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Students could be missing out on £240 a year

If you’re off to University, money is probably tight. There are a few essentials you can’t avoid, with rent and bills probably your biggest expenses. However, choosing the wrong contract and not knowing your rights can leave you out of pocket.

On average each student misses out on £240 a year through unfair and high charges. Almost one in five have been overcharged on energy bills, and one in six charged for damage to their property which they didn’t do.

The way to avoid these costs is often to complain, yet just one in four students had actually complained about these extra or unfair charges according to new research from Ombudsman Services, an impartial consumer dispute group set up by government.

Their research also found some students even pay bills from previous tenants or forget to claim their home deposit.

You can also rack up extra costs by paying bills you don’t need to, or for paying for services you won’t use once the university year finishes next summer.

 

If you’re having to pay bills for your student accommodation, follow our top tips below to make sure you don’t pay more than you need to.

Students don’t need to pay Council Tax

If everyone in your house is a student, you can apply for exemption from this bill. If it’s a mixed house, the non-students need to pay it, though if there’s only one not studying person in your home they can apply for a discount.

Rent breaks could help you leave early

Some halls of residence will only be for term time, meaning you don’t pay in the holidays. Though that can also mean moving out completely at Christmas and Easter, which would bring moving or storage costs.

You can ask private landlords for a break clause too. This would let you give notice after a set time in the contract. Though that also means they could ask you to leave. For example a clause may say you can give one month’s notice after 9 months.

Gas and Electricity switching can save you money

If your landlord lets you switch and/or fix supplier, go for one which doesn’t charge early exit fees. That way you’ll get a better price than standard tariffs but can cancel it when you move out.

Broadband doesn’t need to be for 12 months

Some providers offer 9 month contracts, though you may be able to find cheaper providers for 12 months. There are also some that have ‘rolling’ contracts which you can cancel with a month’s notice. Remember most will need a landline too, which might have a separate contract.

Contents could be covered on your parents’ insurance

It’s worth seeing whether your parent’s home insurance will cover some items. Some include attending full time education as part of contents temporarily removed from the home.

If not, when you get a quote, check the terms and conditions. You might be able to end the policy early and get a part refund, though expect a small fee as well.

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