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Good Morning,

I have recently been having problems with an HMO, for which I pay the bills.

I just wondered how other HMO landlords play it. Do you pay the bills or are the bills paid by the tenants. I think I read somewhere that the council wont accept HMO properties to be paid by anyone but the landlord.

Mainly I am talking about gas and electricity, but also braodband & sky etc, since these are good ways of getting tenants in, but then since you have to have a lanline you are then left open to large phone bills, any way around this.

Any comments would be greatly appreciated, since I have lost approximately £100 per month due to paying the bills and am keen to not get burnt on the next one which I plan to advertise next week, but just want to get everything straight.

Kind regards,


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Hi Mattew

I have recently been thinking about the same problem - not so much with a phones but with the gas bill - as whenever i go to my hmo houses ( rooms only ) the heating is always on full tilt- whether there is is anyone at home or not - when quizzed on one ocassion one tenant told me he was going out later that night so the heating was on to dry his shirt on the radiator !!! ( i felt so much better after he told me that )

Considerations i have had are

1 to box heating controls in and padlock the door with timer deciding when heating comes on and go off - the problem with this is a lot of my tenants are nurses and work shifts so had to scrap that ! also they would all plug in their fan heaters and send the electricity bill thru the roof

2 To allow a reasonable amount for gas electrcity etc and to do meter reads monthly and bill them for the difference - problem with that is first it takes time and second usage is far higher in winter than summer and "fair usage" is difficult to quantify !

3 I would not allow myself to get into a position where i was responsible for the phone bill ! unless it was incoming calls only ! Speak to provider - i use ntl and they will do Broad band and tv but no phone special rates for HMO's ( i use a local rep )

If you are stuck put an extra line in your lease -Bills do not include phone usage. or get yourself a pair of pliers and snip the wire outside!

As you have pointed in the past HMO's do give much greater profitability but with that comes greater hassle, expense and risk !!

At the risk of complicating it - ( depending on wether you have residents on 1 lease or seperate) - charge them for the bills then refund them (cash gift etc) the "bills " amount back(upto a set limit) - you are still paying for them to have the service but in their name not yours!

A friend of mine who always has a queue of waiting student tenants - gives them a car - taxed and insured with the house !!! ( to be precise he gives them authority to spend upto £350 on a banger £300 on insurance and then pays the tax as well ) all in their name - gimmick - Yes does it work - you bet !

Also Know Landlords who give a free Xbox, PS2, dishwasher, snooker table, with each house!

There is always one person in the house who is cleaner than everyone else - i often identify this person and discount their rent by £10 a month and make them responsible for motivating the others to clean th place !

The thing is these all have set costs which you can allow for - phone bills on foreign students in my name are completely unthinkable !

All the best Simon

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Ah interesting Simon,

I thought you would say you don't pay the bills, as you say it is a load of hassle. Any problems with the Sky, broadband, telephone etc, all directed via me.

I have also been to the said property and realised that the heating is on in the daytime when nobody is in. It is not only well out of order, but with this type of setup, we as the landlord are being abit irresponsible by having an agreement that lets them use as much energy as they like.

Also re your last point, I have a telephone bill in my name at the said property, with 5 people living there most being foreign and some students :-(

But no problems yet in nearly a year, touch wood :-)

Would you consider not paying for anything and letting them "sort it out themsleves" like everybody else has to do?

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If they are all on one single lease- I have absolutely nothing to do with bills -EVER!

If you letting on room by room basis (seperate contracts)then things are little more complicated with people coming and going all over the place - and have found that it is actually simpler (and quicker!) to pay the bills yourself- also single tenants do not have a utility in their name shared with a stranger who could run up silly bills then dissappear ! I have spent to much time in the past talking to utility companies and especially council tax trying to sort out utter chaos that people create when you leave them to sort themselves.

Just work out a fair fig add 12-15% (for voids) add to rent

ct 1200

gas 800

elect 800

water 500

tot 3300

15% 495

3800/6rooms /12mth approx £50/mth /rm (not inc BB/TV/phone )

Go and cut the wire !


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Nope - Never ! leave that one to them !

Also make sure you do not have a TV in the house ( tenants often leave them behind ) I either skip them or sell them to incoming tenant as YOU will be responsible if they use it without a licence!

I think you mentioned something b4 about being a charity !!! LOL


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Wowsers! I didn't know that about needing 6 licenses, why is this when you usually only need one license per house. Seems really unfair, but thanks for mentioning,will try and check this, and be careful in the future if it is the case.

Do you actually have a house that has about 6 licenses?

It does seem weird to have all this red tape for HMOs, it seemes like they don't want people to do this, even though it is so much more energy efficient living this way. For me the regulations should be sooo much tighter for families with young children, but they can pretty much stick as many kids in as they like.

Also the company I bought a place from said they were exempt from HMO rules since they rent at below normal rent to NHS workers, but I bet they probably didn't charge much less than me and their places are dumps, I renovated so it is 100 times nicer to live in now. It just seemslike a rule for one etc......

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Hi Matthew

I have several that should have 6 licences but whether the tenants have actually got 6 or not i dont know ! None of my business!

I think it has something to do with as 6 leases then it is 6 households also on 6-8 and bigger lets on one lease; i think you will find that one license will only cover upto i think 4 sets ! there is also a complication ; as students i think they can operate a portable from their licence at home !

I am not at all sure of the above - anyone out there know ??

but if you are paying for licences you are liable if you have got it wrong - so would be good if anyone can put us straight on the above?


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