Reading Time: 9 mins
Renters don’t have to pay for things like broken boilers – but the costs of renting still add up really fast.
From turning your thermostat down a degree to negotiating rent raises, there are tons of ways you can knock the cost of living in rented accommodation down to a more manageable level. Follow these quick and easy ways to reduce your living costs to save cash!
- Consider your location
- Negotiate on rent
- Reduce your energy bills
- Use water saving devices
- Challenge your Council Tax band
- Find a roomie
- Shop around for tenant’s insurance
- Share your subscriptions
- Bulk shop together
- Boost your credit score by renting
- Save on your TV licence
- Find second-hand furniture
- Rent space for extra cash
If you’re new to renting or looking for your next place, make sure you take into account your usual journeys. Renters often go for a cheap rent – but end up spending a lot on commuting.
Do you travel to university, work, or visit family on a regular basis? Choosing a location that’s further out of town centres can be cheaper in terms of rent – but could raise your travel costs. The same goes for your supermarket shop and other leisure activities – if you live further away from the things you love to do, it could cost you more in the long-term.
If you’re already renting, think about ways to reduce your travel costs. We’re all now familiar with Zoom and video calling thanks to the coronavirus lockdown – and it’s a handy way to keep in touch with friends and family without travelling.
You could also consider investing in a bicycle for local jaunts – it’ll reduce public transport or car costs and keep you fit, too!
Rent negotiations aren’t just for when you first sign a lease!
Of course, if you’re just about to move into a rental property, it’s a good time to negotiate. If your landlord won’t reduce your rent, find out if you can arrange a two- or three-year rent fix, instead. This’ll reduce your long-term bills as your landlord won’t be able to raise your rent on an annual basis.
If your income has been affected, such as you’ve been made redundant, it’s time to talk to your landlord. Being honest – and offering solutions with your problem – will help build a trusting relationship. Your landlord’ll be more willing to help if you are upfront about your finance struggles.
During the coronavirus crisis, you can ask for a rent holiday or reduction as your landlord can apply for a mortgage holiday. However, remember you’ll still owe the money so try to avoid suspending your entire rent if you can – otherwise you’ll end up with a big bill in a few months’ time!
What you can do, however, is suggest a reduced rent in return for higher rent in the future. Or, if something needs fixing or redecorating in the property, see if you can negotiate offering your time to fix it for the landlord. You’ll need to do so to a high standard, of course! But it can save them a lot of money.
First, ask your landlord if you can change supplier. If your name is on the utility bills, you can do so anyway – but if they pay the bill, request that they switch energy and gas supplier. Renters have the right to ask for this. Do the research for them to find the cheapest tariff. Reducing the work the landlord needs to do will make them more likely to help!
You can do other things to save on your bill costs, too:
Wash full loads only
Washing half-loads of laundry expends a lot of extra energy. Try to limit the number of laundry days you have – only wash when you’ve got a full load to put in. This reduces how much you use the energy-guzzling machine and saves water, too.
Avoid tumble-drying altogether wherever you can as well, as it’s a very costly exercise. Invest in a decent airer – you can buy heated clothes airers for under £40. This’ll save you a lot in the long-term – and you can take it with you to your next home!
Switch to LED bulbs
Invest in LED bulbs to reduce your energy consumption. If you’re on a tight budget, switch the bulbs in the lights you use the most often, such as the kitchen overhead light or your bedroom lamp.
You can cut around £40 a year from your electricity bill just by making this small switch. LED bulbs also last a lot longer than traditional bulbs, so you’ll save money by not having to replace them so often!
Insulate your water tank
This is something you could ask your landlord to fund. If they won’t do so, it’ll set you back around £15.
A water tank insulation jacket wraps around your hot water tank to reduce the amount of heat that escapes. This saves you a LOT of money over the course of a year – so it’s well worth investing in!
Find out if you can get a boiler grant
Renters could be entitled to a free boiler upgrade – and your landlord won’t have to pay for it.
If you’re on certain low-income benefits, such as Universal Credit, and your boiler is older than 7 years, look into free boiler grants. Local authorities often offer a free boiler replacement to help reduce the carbon footprint of the property.
You will need permission from your landlord for a boiler replacement to take place. If it means some DIY work will need doing – such as repainting the wall – offer to complete the work yourself.
A new boiler is far more efficient and will reduce your energy bills across the year considerably. It also reduces the risk of a broken boiler in the middle of winter!
Your water supplier will offer a range of water saving devices that are completely free to order.
For example, Yorkshire Water offers shower timers, cistern bags, tap and shower regulators, and toilet leak detection strips. All of these are entirely free to order!
You can save significant amounts of water using these devices – reducing your bill AND your impact on the environment!
Request a water meter
Contrary to popular belief, renters do have a right to request a water meter for their property. You’ll need permission from your landlord – but it’s in their interest to have one. When the property is empty between tenants, they’ll pay a LOT less than on a tariff.
Water meters are ideal for properties for one to two people. Family properties probably won’t benefit as they use a lot more water. You could save hundreds of pounds each year with a water meter, as the amount you use is accurately recorded.
Did you know that your property Council Tax band is based on what it was (or would have been) worth in 1991? When property valuations took place, they were ‘2nd gear’ valuations. The valuers literally drove down streets in second gear noting the property types. They didn’t investigate every individual home!
That means you could be overpaying for your Council Tax. If you moved in within the last 6 months, you can challenge it. Renters need permission from their landlord: there’s a risk the valuation will RAISE rather than drop the price.
However, if your property doesn’t fit with others in your area, you could be paying too much.
How to find out local council tax rates
Use the Government’s online checker tool. Check your property – and then look at others on your street. It’ll show you if you’re in the same or different band to your neighbours.
If you think there are similar properties in a lower band, check it out. Pop onto Rightmove or Zoopla to look up property history – you’ll be able to find out if these properties are the same as yours.
For example, if you’re in a two-bed flat, you can use the Rightmove listings to find out if the other properties on your street are also two-bed flats.
Challenge your council tax band
You can’t challenge the band with your council directly. Instead, you need to apply to the Valuation Office Agency.
Gather evidence – such as the fact properties similar to yours are in a lower band – and send it as an appeal. It can take some time for the decision to come through. If the VOA decide you’re in too high a band, it’ll lower it and backdate to the date you moved in. This means you’ll be due a refund from your local council.
If you’ve got a spare room, consider asking your landlord to add another person to your lease. A roommate can help slash the bills as well as the rent!
Your utility spend will go up, but the cost will average out between more of you. This often means it’s a lower cost overall. For example, if the heating is on, you’re now sharing the cost with someone else instead of shouldering the entire cost yourself!
Renters must check their tenancy agreement to find the rules on subletting. If you’re not allowed to sublet, you must ask your landlord for permission to alter the agreement and add another housemate.
Make sure the new agreement separates the new roommate’s liabilities from your own. Otherwise, you could be responsible for their share of the rent or damages.
Do you insure your stuff? Renters’ insurance helps protect you against damage to your own property – and can help with other things, like legal costs if you get into a dispute with your landlord.
Like any insurance product, you’ll need to shop around to get the best price. Some are designed exclusively for students, for example, with a 9-month policy to cover halls of residence rather than a private rental.
Don’t set it to autorenew either – shop around for the best price each year. This can save you hundreds of pounds over the course of the time you rent.
Are you a group of renters in a house share? You’ll probably find you’ve all got the same subscriptions to things like Amazon Prime, Spotify, and Netflix.
Band together! You can share your Prime with your household, for example, and sign up for Spotify Family. This saves loads of cash over the course of the year.
Maybe you love other subscription services, like Hello Fresh. Adding an extra person or two to the subscription box service will increase the overall cost – but reduce the cost of your share.
Similarly, consider bulk buying items for your household and pantry that you can all share. Toilet roll, potatoes, pasta, cleaning products: things you all use regularly are MUCH cheaper if you buy in bulk.
If you’re renting on your own or as a couple, you can still split the cost of regular household goods to save money. Bulk buying where you can (and if you have storage space) can slash your long-term household bills considerably.
Most renters have a long-term plan to buy a house eventually. Getting a mortgage is the crux of the issue: credit scores can be a bit pesky!
The good news is that you can use your rent to boost your credit score. CreditLadder is free for tenants to use. You pay your monthly rent to them, and they pay it to your landlord. Your payment is reported as paid in full and on time every month to all three credit reference agencies.
As rent is such a large expense, paying it regularly and on time each month helps boost your credit score relatively quickly.
The better your credit score, the better rates you’ll get when it’s time to apply for a mortgage. So, paying your rent on time now can save you literally thousands of pounds in the future!
Do you actually need a TV licence? Renters need to share one as a household if you have a TV in a communal area like your living room.
However, if you have a separate lock on your bedroom door, it counts as another property. So, you’ll need another TV licence. Student accommodation and house shares often have this kind of setup.
Think: do you actually watch live TV in your room? If you’re only using a laptop to watch Netflix or other streaming services (except BBC iPlayer), you don’t need a separate TV licence.
Students can also get a refund on the outstanding 3 months (or, let’s face it, 6 months in coronavirus times) that they’re not in their student accommodation over the summer.
Moving into a part-furnished or unfurnished rental property means you get to put your own stamp on the place. However, you don’t need to spend a lot to furnish it!
Try local Facebook groups, the NextDoor app, Gumtree, and Freecycle to find cheap – or totally free – furniture.
Sure, it might not be to your taste – but you can buy decent furniture when you’ve found your forever home! Or, at the very least, once you’ve got more cash to spare.
Do you have a garage that you’re not using? Perhaps you have an allocated car parking space but no car. Maybe you’ve got a spare room ripe for storage.
You can make a bunch of extra cash every month just by renting your spare space! Check your tenancy agreement to make sure you can do so – then start marketing your space for hire.
Share your renter’s hacks
Do you have more tips and tricks for renters to save money? Pop on over to our Magpie Messageboard and share them with other Magpies!
Even better, the Post of the Week wins a £25 Amazon voucher – so get involved!
More useful reading
- 10 easy ways to improve your credit score
- What you need to know about cohabiting and finances
- How to buy a cheap house
- Things to think of when renting out a room
- 22 storage tips to save space and money