If you’re thinking about renting, whether it’s an apartment or a house, it’s important to consider every financial angle before making any commitments. One of the first questions you’ll probably be asking is which bills you’ll have to pay as a renter.
Renters can usually expect to pay a minimum of the following bills: sewer, water, trash, gas, electric, cable, internet, and renter’s insurance. There can also be additional bills if you’re renting a house.
The following article is a guide to the bills that renters have to pay, as well as the circumstances in which your bills will be included in rent, the pros and cons of the latter, and homeowner costs that renters don’t have to pay.
How Do Bills Work When You’re Renting?
Knowing which bills you’ll need to pay can be confusing if you’re new to the world of renting. Some payments will be going to your landlord, while other payments will be going directly to the utility companies. It’s vital that you’re well informed about how everything works before renting.
Usually you’ll need to set up your gas and electricity with your local provider prior to moving in (otherwise you’ll move in and won’t have any… well, you can guess). There can also be other bills you’ll be required to pay prior to moving in if the property is a house, rather than an apartment.
These can include sewer, water, and trash. It’s common for your landlord to require proof that these have been set up at the point of signing the lease.
Most bills, be it bills paid to the landlord or bills paid to the utility providers, can be paid online, but a lot of the time the option to pay them via a check or over the phone will also be available.
One thing you’ll need to be aware of when it comes to water bills is that they often run a month (or more) behind. For this reason, it’s possible you won’t be paying your first water bill until a couple of months into your lease.
If there is anything you’re unsure of regarding your bills, be sure to ask your landlord. They will know (or should know) the answer.
Bills That Renters Pay
The following is a rundown of the bills that renters are usually expected to pay, as well as estimations as to how much you’ll be paying for each. It should be noted that, just like the prices of renting itself, the costs of these bills can vary greatly depending on your location.
While they should give you a rough estimate of how much bills can cost, you should take them with a pinch of salt.
Water and Sewer Bills
Water bills tend to be a lot lower when you’re renting an apartment compared to when you’re renting a house, because you’re not paying for things like lawn sprinklers.
Because of these differences, you’ll usually be paying roughly between $25 and $40 for the water and sewer bill if you’re renting an apartment. Again, though, this can vary.
Cable and Internet Bills
You don’t have to pay for internet, and you certainly don’t have to pay for cable, but the options are there. Paying for cable tends to set you back between $25 a month to $100, but this just depends on the package you’ve gone with.
The internet bill, on the other hand, tends to be between $25 and $75 a month. Your Internet provider is certainly something to look into before committing to renting an apartment or house, because in certain locations there will only be one choice of provider (could’ve sworn there was a word for that…).
Trash and Trash Valet Bills
It doesn’t matter if you’re renting an apartment or a house- you’ll always have to pay for the trash service. The cost of this service can vary, but is usually somewhere between $15 to $45 each month. Trash valet, on the other hand, is a service employed by an abundance of apartment complexes.
At its core it’s just a trash pickup service, where someone will pick up your trash either at night or in the early morning.
Electric bills tend to be one of the higher bills you’ll be paying when renting a house or apartment, but it can vary. Naturally you’ll be paying less in the months where less electricity is required for things like air conditioning or central heating. If you’re not using a lot of electricity your bill can be as low as $30 to $40.
But in the months where you’re using a lot of electricity because it’s required to keep your house at a livable temperature, you can be paying more than $125. Remember to turn those lights off when you leave the room!
While it’s lower when you require less heating, a winter gas bill tends to cost you roughly $25 a month. If you’re renting a house there will probably be more space, meaning you’ll be paying more for your gas bill than you would at an apartment.
Parking Space or Garage Bills
If you drive (and in some cases even if you don’t) and you’re renting an apartment, you’re often required to pay for a parking space in the apartment complex’s lot. Sometimes parking is free, though- it just depends.
Renting a garage will naturally cost you a lot more, usually somewhere in the range of $100 a month to $150 a month. If you’re renting an apartment it would be very rare for a garage not to be optional, unless the garage was part of the apartment itself.
Yard Maintenance Bills
This tends to only apply if you’re renting a house, for obvious reasons, but could also apply in cases where your apartment either has a yard or a shared yard.
Your yard maintenance bill when renting a house tends to be anywhere from $25 to $85 a month, but if you elect to maintain the yard yourself, it’s possible you won’t have to pay this particular bill.
Are Your Bills Included In Rental Payments?
Bills are sometimes included in your monthly rent payments, but it depends on the landlord. Keep an eye out for mention of ‘bills included’ on property listings. The majority of landlords tend not to include bills in the rent, the main exception often being if you’re renting a co-living development.
There are pros and cons to having your bills included in your monthly rental payments.
Benefits Of Having Your Bills Included In Rental Payments
- No additional payments: An obvious one, of course, but it can feel like a huge weight off your mind knowing that your monthly rental payment is the only significant fee you have to worry about. All your bills being included in your rent payments makes it far less likely that you’ll lose track of what you owe.
- Less paperwork: Another benefit is that you won’t have to communicate with the utility companies directly. All your utilities will already be set up by the time you move into the property. The only thing you’ll need to worry about is paying your single rent payment on time every month.
- Less chance of going over budget: You also won’t have to worry about things like financial fluctuations, or needing to set aside a little extra money during certain weather conditions when you’re expecting your electric bill to increase.
Drawbacks Of Having Your Bills Included In Rental Payments
There are also downsides to your bills being included in your rental payments. These include the following.
- You may not have control over your thermostat: If you’re not the one directly paying your own utilities, your landlord might take it upon themselves to control your heating themselves. This could potentially be a major issue during the colder months when you need the heating up higher but the landlord refuses.
- You may end up paying more overall: When all your bills are paid with your rent, you’re putting a lot of faith in your landlord not to charge more than you should actually owe. It also won’t be possible to switch providers if the provider you’re with starts hiking up prices unexpectedly, because you’re not the one who set up the utilities.
It’s not all that common that a landlord will include your bills with your rent, so if you’re looking for a new place to live you shouldn’t be looking exclusively for this type of lease- your options will probably be limited.
Should You Get Renter’s Insurance?
Renter’s insurance is a way to protect your personal belongings in case of issues you have no control over, like floods, fires, or theft. This will usually not be covered under the insurance policy of the landlord.
Renter’s insurance essentially acts as a security blanket, and will help you to avoid extra expenses in the long term. Prices will vary depending on how much you decide to get covered.
Homeowner Costs That Renters Don’t Have To Pay
Because apartments and houses have so many differences, there are a number of payments homeowners are required to pay that renters avoid. These include the following.
The most obvious cost that homeowners pay and renters don’t pay is property tax. Although many landlords will factor property tax into the monthly rent, you only pay property tax directly to the local or municipal government, county, and state if you own the property in question.
This bill is one that homeowners will be paying for as long as they own the property. The amounts can vary depending on the property’s value, which tends to fluctuate, and depending on the location of the property. Before buying a home, it’s very important to be aware of the property taxes in the area.
This amount can vary depending on a number of factors, like the rate and interest on your mortgage. While fixed-rate mortgages will always have the same interest rate, adjustable-rate mortgages can fluctuate.
Unlike renters, homeowners can’t just give their landlord a call when something goes wrong with the property. The homeowner will be responsible for seeing to these problems, and it’s most recommended that you set aside a minimum of 1% of the purchase value of the home every year for potential maintenance.
It can be astonishing just how quickly maintenance costs can stack up throughout any given year. Some homeowners set aside as much as 10% of their monthly expenses purely for maintenance.
While renters often pay renter’s insurance, home insurance is a whole other ballgame. The difference is that renter’s insurance only covers the contents of the property, but home insurance accounts for the physical property itself.
This is most necessary when factoring in the risk of fires or natural disasters. Premiums can vary when it comes to home insurance, so it helps to do as much research as you can when buying a house.
Lawn Care and Landscaping
There will also be costs associated with your lawn, if you have one. If you opt to pay a landscaping company to maintain your lawn, you could be paying more than $45 every visit.
Costs will be lower if you decide to maintain your lawn by yourself, but you still have to consider the costs associated with tree maintenance, fertilizer, and tools. There is also the time cost to consider- it might not be worth doing all the work by yourself if it requires many hours every week.
Real Estate Fees and Legal Fees
Real estate agent fees tend to be based on commission. The average rate tends to be somewhere around 6%. There can also be additional closing costs owed to real estate lawyers when it comes to purchasing or selling your property, so you should make sure to budget for this.
Conclusion: What Bills Do Renters Have To Pay?
There’s a lot more than just rent payments to consider when deciding to rent an apartment or house. While the costs of each kind of bill varies depending on factors like your location and the size of the property, you’ll usually be required to pay most of the bills on our list.
If you’re not sure which bills you’d be expected to pay or you’re not sure whether your bills will be included in your rent, be sure to enquire with your prospective landlord. Setting up all your utilities can be both stressful and confusing when you’re renting your first property, but once everything is in place, it shouldn’t be much of a hassle.
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