Whether you find yourself in student accommodation or sharing a flat with post-university mates, there’s a good chance that you’ve encountered at least one student housemate who consistently fails to pay their share of the bills on time. While it might be tempting to let it slide initially or cover their expenses to maintain harmony, the situation can quickly become frustrating and strain relationships. Here we look at what to do if your student housemates won’t pay their share
It’s essential to understand that many individuals face financial difficulties at some point in their lives, so it’s crucial to approach discussions about household finances with sensitivity. However, it’s equally important not to shoulder their burden or assume that they’ll reimburse you in the near future.
In this blog post, we’ve compiled a set of proactive tips to help you encourage your student housemates to fulfil their financial responsibilities without unnecessary hassle. By implementing these strategies, you can foster a cooperative and responsible living environment for everyone involved. Before we dive in, let’s look at who is actually liable.
The tenancy agreement
If you share a property with others, all of you will be named on the tenancy agreement in a joint tenancy. This means that anyone named is responsible for payment. If one person refuses to pay, the others must cover the owed amount. Being stuck with a housemate who doesn’t contribute means you’re liable for their share, which is not fair.
Who is responsible for the bills?
Likewise, with bills all those named on the bill are liable for payment, utility providers and such don’t really want to get in the middle of your domestic and at the end of the day don’t care who isn’t chipping in. They will hold whoever they can as liable and leave it as your problem to sort out between yourselves.
What to do if your student housemates won’t pay their share of the bills.
Handling the situation between yourselves is the first step to try, keeping dialogue open is the best way forward, whereas keeping quiet and ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. Tread firmly but be aware that money issues can be one of the top reasons for housemates to fall out.
- Communication is Key: Initiate an open and honest conversation with your housemates. Choose a calm and relaxed environment where everyone can talk without distractions. Express your concerns about the unpaid bills and ask if there are any reasons or issues that might be causing the delay in payments.
- Understand Their Situation: Listen to your housemates’ side of the story and try to understand their perspective. Sometimes, financial difficulties or personal problems might be the cause of their inability to pay. Be empathetic and see if there is any way you can support them, such as creating a payment plan or finding temporary solutions. remember the cost of living crisis is hitting everybody.
- Reevaluate the Bills: Go through the bills together and ensure that everyone agrees on the amounts owed. Sometimes, disputes can arise due to misunderstandings or mistakes in calculations. Double-check the bills and clarify any discrepancies to avoid confusion.
- Create a Written Agreement: If your student housemates continue to be uncooperative, consider drafting a written agreement outlining each person’s responsibilities for bill payments. This document should be signed by all housemates and could serve as a reference in case of future conflicts.
Look at ways to manage how the bills are paid:
- Set Up a Shared Account: Consider creating a shared bank account solely for bill payments. Each housemate can contribute their share of the money into this account, making it easier to manage and ensuring that bills are paid on time.
- Appoint a Bill Manager: Designate one person in the house to manage the bill payments and keep track of contributions. This person can send regular reminders to everyone, making sure that payments are made promptly. Alternatively, it may be sensible to appoint each individual to be responsible for certain utilities. That way each individual is liable for paying what they are named on. If one Housemate doesn’t pay you are left with a smaller deficit that you owe. While you can then deduct them for whichever utilities are in their name.
Look to outside help
Speak to the Landlord or Utility Companies
If the situation persists and your housemates are unwilling to cooperate, consider reaching out to the landlord or utility companies directly. Explain the situation and ask if there are any alternative arrangements that can be made. However, avoid doing this as a first resort, as it could create tension within the household.
If tensions are escalating and communication has broken down, consider involving a neutral third party to mediate the situation. This could be someone from your university’s accommodation office who can help facilitate a resolution.
Explore Legal Options
As a last resort, if your housemates’ refusal to pay becomes untenable, you may need to seek legal advice or take appropriate legal action. However, this should only be considered if all other attempts to resolve the issue have failed. Firstly consider speaking to citizens’ advice or your student union for advice.
How to prevent this situation from happening?
Learn from the Experience
Living with housemates can teach valuable life lessons, including financial responsibility and conflict resolution. Regardless of the outcome, try to learn from the experience and use it to make better decisions in future living situations.
Use a third party
Using a bills-included option like Unihomes means that all bills are fixed and split equally. They will handle collecting payment from each individual tenant and will chase them for any non or late payments. Completely taking the hassle and issue of dealing with this situation out of your hands.
About Thornsett Properties
Thornsett Properties have been providing Sheffield student accommodation since 1985. We supply housing to over 650 students studying at Sheffield Uni and Sheffield Hallam Uni every year. Thornsett Properties are property owners and not agents, meaning all our properties are managed by ourselves and not reliant on third parties. Our aim is to help you succeed whilst living and studying in Sheffield student accommodation