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Energy Bills in shared houses

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We let individual rooms with shared facilities. The problems arise with 'shared' bills - council tax, water rates and energy. We have solved the tax/ rates by simply adding the share to the rent but energy causes problems. As there is no single 'permanent' tenant the bills are addressed to us. Initially we expected the tenants to chip in to pay the bills as they arrived. This caused problems between tenants taking responsibility and chasing up the rest and we also found that the meters were rarely read - and when they were it caused a shock!

So we added a fixed charge to the rent and paid the bills ourselves. But how to keep the bills down when there is no incentive? Saying "The rent will rocket if you don't turn lights off " etc. has little effect because most know they will have left when that happens. Also I now have several oriental tenants who feel the cold and the costs are rocketing - 1800/ year for gas/electricity in a basic terrace house with four tenants - which equates to nearly 40/ month for a tenant..

I have thought of all sorts of complex schemes including my reading the meters, say, quarterly and adjusting the rent accordingly but does anyone have any experience/ ideas??

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16/03/2007 00:00

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