Problems dealing with utility companies when the students leave?

by Readers Question

9:33 AM, 19th May 2013
About 7 years ago

Problems dealing with utility companies when the students leave?

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Problems dealing with utility companies when the students leave?

Student UtilitiesEvery summer I have to sort out the new names and contact details for my 120 plus students in all my HMO properties for the Gas, Water and Electric. Council tax is pretty easy as the University send these across to the council automatically.

The process I go through is checking who the utility provider is (students do switch during the year) then emailing the provider the new tenant details as well as the meter readings.

Every year there are issues, some providers saying they have not had the email, no new bills arrive for months requiring me to chase things up, utility companies trying to chase me for unpaid bills when the students try a fast one etc etc.

I know there are a few companies out there: utility warehouse etc that provide 1 single bill but in my experience the students are very wary of these companies.

What do other HMO landlords do?

Is this process a ton of hassle for everyone?

Regards

Laurie Hugues


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Comments

Michael Holmes

9:56 AM, 21st May 2013
About 7 years ago

Hi Laurie,

I only run 3 HMO.s with around 26 students to look after, so I am not quite in your league when it comes to numbers, but what I soon discovered about ten years ago was that the majority of students had not got a clue how to deal with writing a coherent letter, let alone deal with utility companies, so I set all these things up myself and included them in the rent, problem solved! Why go through all that hassle.

If you use an agency like Get solutions, they will scan the whole market and organise reduced rates on all the utilities for all your properties. You might think that the students will abuse the provision and leave everything running all day long. They will to some extent, but generally I find them to be fairly good once you explain to them the environmental aspects of their profligacy, they have all been brainwashed over the years about this anyway, so it doesn't need too much emphasising.

Regards,

Mike Holmes

Mark Alexander

10:34 AM, 21st May 2013
About 7 years ago

My stepson goes to the University of Greenwich. In his first year he stayed in Halls of Residence which were bills inclusive. Each group of 5 rooms was individually metered. The students were advised of the utilities budgets and were told that they would get 50% of anything under budget back at the end of the year. Posters which promoted saving energy were put up and leaflets were handed out too.

We all know what penny pinchers students can be don't we? If anything they are worse than landlords! My stepson and his student mates immediately took two of the bulbs out of the spotlight in the kitchen and they had some heated debates about leaving lights on for the first few weeks until they were all energy concious. At the end of his first year he was delighted to get £13.66 refunded to invest into the fountain of all knowledge - well the Student Union bar anyway LOL.

Just a thought, it might work for you guys too.

PS - he even switches lights and TV's off when he comes home now so at least I know he's learning something useful as well as games development!

Robert M

13:56 PM, 21st May 2013
About 7 years ago

Impossible burden really.

I just tell students that until the utility company have their details they will be on a deemed contract that will cost more. Then I tell them not to ignore letters from utility companies, how to find out their supplier, what the average use has been in the past, how to select a provider and let them get on with it.

Oh – and I tell them it is £15 per letter off their deposit if they ignore all this advice and I have to get involved.

Sorted

Fiona Macaskill

16:17 PM, 21st May 2013
About 7 years ago

We rent to over 200 students and have found that Utility Warehouse provide a top rate service: we buy gas, electricity and broadband from them and I pay all the bills. We therefore manage all the bills for our tenants: we charge them £12 pppw to cover all their utility bills (including TV licence & water). this is included in their monthly rent payments. We send them a copy of their bills by attachment every month and at the end of the year calculate the actual costs and refund them any underspend. The tenants have to read their meters every month and email the readings to us. Apart from that we take all the stress out of having to pay all the bills for them and encourage them to be eco by guaranteeing a refund of any underspend of their £12 x 52 weeks. We often refund up to £100 per student at the end of their tenancy. It's totally paperless and a bit of work for us but it really works for the students and they love it. I DO NOT recommend doing a fully inclusive rent without offering a refund of their underspend as they tend to leave lights on, heating turned up etc. this is very UN eco!

Laurie Hughes

19:31 PM, 21st May 2013
About 7 years ago

Many thanks for the replies, some useful comments.


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