Bills and Council Tax
If you have not agreed for the cost of the bills to be included in the rent, you as tenants will be responsible for paying them. Household bills include gas, electricity and water. There are some additional bills to consider, such as WiFi and a TV Licence. The day you move in, take the gas and electricity meter readings (ideally with photographs as evidence in case there is any dispute) and pass them on to the suppliers. If you don't do this, you may end up paying more than you owe.
You may already be aware of your utilities suppliers but if you don’t know or are unsure, you can call the following numbers to find out:
Gas - To obtain details of your Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN) or gas supplier call 08706 081524.
Electricity - To obtain details of your electricity supplier, call the Meter Point Admin Service: 0845 50159721
All enquiries about water supply should be made to Dwr Cymru Welsh Water on 0800 0520145. Welsh Water is the only water supplier in Wales.
How to pay household bills
If you are paying bills in a shared house, it is usually possible to have more than one name on each of the utility bills. If only one person signs for the supply and has their name on the account, the utility company will deem that person liable to pay the bills. That person cam pursue the other tenants if they do not contribute as agreed but that can be a difficult position to find yourself in and one best avoided. It is a good idea to come to an agreement that means different tenants take on different utilities and add multiple names if the supplier allows it.
In a shared student house, it is important that you have a conversation with all tenants about how you want to go about paying the bills. As boring as it sounds, it is very important and means that you avoid missing payments, having difficulties with your utilities suppliers, or ending up with a very big bill to pay in one go.
Setting up a joint bank account for the house
You may wish to set up a joint account with other tenants to pay your bills - you can do so by contacting your bank. If you set up a ‘house account’ to pay the bills from, you will need to make sure that there is enough money to cover all outgoings and that everyone is paying their share. Although student finance is paid termly, most suppliers offer cheaper rates for a monthly set direct debit and this also helps you to work out a monthly budget. The direct debit needs to be set up with the utility provider and enables them to take the money from an agreed account every month, unless and until you cancel the direct debit. You can cancel a direct debit at any time.
If you set up monthly direct debits with each of your suppliers, you can work out the amount that each tenant needs to pay into the ‘house account’ each month. You can then set up a standing order from each of the tenants’ personal bank accounts to ensure that the payments are covered. A standing order is an agreement set up with your bank to send a set amount of money to an agreed account, usually on a monthly basis. It is a good idea to arrange the standing order a few days in advance of the utility bill payment dates as it can take a few days for the payment to clear.
Changing utility suppliers
You can investigate changing suppliers by using price comparison websites detailed below. Depending on who suplies your property and teh tarif you are on, changing suppliers can save you a lot of money. Before you make a decision, check the terms of your tenancy about changing suppliers. Most tenancy agreements say that you need permission but that the landlord will not refuse that unreasonably. You should also check with the utility company that you are not tied in for a minimum period which is longer than the tenancy.
Remember - fuel is expensive, so budget carefully and use energy efficiently. Get energy saving advice here.
As a modern day essential for many, it’s important that you shop around for the best deal and always check the terms and conditions of the contract when you organise your broadband/media services. For some services, you may need your landlord’s permission, so make sure to check your contract. You can use comparison websites to search for deals, but some companies offer student exclusive deals directly.
You must be covered by a valid TV Licence if you watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV. This includes using BBC iPlayer. It makes no difference what equipment you use - whether it’s a laptop, PC, games console, mobile phone, digital box, DVD recorder or a TV set - you still need a licence.
If you do any of the above without a valid licence, you risk prosecution and a maximum penalty of up to £1,000, plus any legal costs and/or compensation you may be ordered to pay. You will also still have to buy a TV Licence if you need one.
If you think you are exempt from purchasing a TV Licence or need further information, you can contact TV Licensing. You must inform them if you think you do not need a TV Licence.
Whilst your landlord is responsible for insuring the premises and landlord owned belongings, you are responsible for insuring your personal possessions within the house. Student houses are prime targets for opportunistic thieves and, unfortunately, theft and burglary is not uncommon in student areas. It is recommended that you take out some form of contents insurance to protect your personal belongings. You should shop around for the best insurance deals and tailor the policy to your individual needs - you can use price comparison sites to do so
Price comparison websites
Council tax is a British property based tax which is paid to the local council and goes towards paying for local services such as the fire and police services. Council tax is, for many people, a legal requirement. However, there are some exemptions to paying council tax if you are a student under the following circumstances.
You do not have to pay council tax if you are:
- An undergraduate student registered on a full-time course
- An undergraduate student registered on a full-time course and on a placement year
- An undergraduate student registered on a full-time course but temporarily studying on a part time basis
- A postgraduate student enrolled on a full time course as an internal student
- A student on an Interruption of Study (This will depend on your circumstances)
- On an Interruption of Study registered as an external student in your final year
- On a one year postgraduate course
- A postgraduate in the writing-up stage of your study
You do have to pay council tax if you are:
- A part time student
- An external student for the final year of an undergraduate course.
- are on a pre-sessional course that is less than 24 weeks duration.
- Erasmus+ students at Cardiff University for 24 weeks or less will need to manually request their council tax exemption certificate. Please see the information under 'Special circumstances'. Council tax exemption certificates for new students will be automatically issued within 24 hours of your enrolment.
Council Tax exemption
Council tax exemption certificates for new students should be automatically issued within 24 hours of enrolment. A PDF copy of the certificate should be emailed to you and you can also request a copy of your council tax exemption certificate at any time via SIMS online. You will need to download this certificate and send it either to your landlord or agent or directly to Cardiff County Council. It is your responsibility to send your certificate to the Council but some landlords and agents will do it for you. If the agency does not offer this service you can email the certificate to email@example.com.
If you live in purpose built, student only accommodation, you will not have to pay Council Tax and will not need or receive an exemption certificate.
The certificate does not relate to a particular address and is valid for the whole academic year, as long as you attend your course.
If there is no certificate available to download on SIMS and you are on a qualifying course, you will need to contact Student Operations via the Ask Cardiff helpdesk.
Living with non-students
Since April 2004, full time students in this position no longer have a shared liability with those who are not full time students. If there is only one person who is not in full time education in the house they are liable to pay council tax, but will get a 25% reduction on their bill.
Living with your landlord
If you are a full time student living with your landlord and share basic amenities like the bathroom and kitchen then it is your landlord's responsibility to pay the Council Tax. You are a lodger and it would be good practise to have discussions about all bills and council tax before you move in.
Withdrawing from your course
If you leave your course permanently then you will not be classed as a full time student for Council Tax purposes. You will then be liable to pay, though you may be able to claim full or part Council Tax Benefit to help you pay. You can find information on this here.
Interruption of Study
If you have a leave of absence or interruption you should continue to have the exemption. You should contact us at Student Advice to discuss this.
Research students in the writing up period
Postgraduate students who are in the writing up period of their course remain exempt from Council Tax.
Erasmus / short stay students
If you are studying at Cardiff University for less than 24 weeks, you will need to send Cardiff City Council a letter from your home university confirming that you are on a full time programme of study. You will also need a letter from Cardiff University, confirming that your time studying here is part of a full time programme in your home country. The International Student Support office can help you with this letter - you can contact International Student Support at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure you use your Cardiff address on any correspondence with the Council.
If you are an Erasmus student studying for more than 24 weeks you will receive the normal letter with the exemption certificate from the University Registry. This will be sent to your term time address.
Contact details for Cardiff Council
If you have any further enquiries regarding Council tax, take a look at the Cardiff Council website here. You can view information on:
- How to pay Council Tax
- How much your Council Tax is
- Whether you are entitled to further reductions and discounts
- Making changes to your account
- Support available if you are having trouble paying
Telephone: 02920 872087, pressing option 1 for Council Tax
Cardiff University General Enquiries (ASK Cardiff)
+44 (0) 2920 874000
Cardiff University Registry
+44 (0)29 2087 6211
If all of the above fail, students can visit the University Registry, 2nd Floor McKenzie House, Monday-Friday 9:00-16:30.