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View Full Version : AST: are outgoings included or not at L's discretion?



charger
26-11-2005, 14:07 PM
Hi

After many weeks of postponements , i finally decided to post on this forum.
I had many questions to ask, but for now only this comes up in my mind.
What is intended on the Ast by : "Bills Included" .
Can the landlord decide to include only part of the Bills ?
And if for example the Gas is included, can it be included only for few hours decided by the landlord and agreed by the tenants ?

Ie: In my property tenants have got the privilege of the All Bills Inclusive, and the gas runs for 7 hours a day . Two tenants have asked me to get extra hours per day, and I have agreed to give them 2 more hours for free, therefore the gas now is on for 9 hours a day. Some other tenants have also asked me for two more extra hours at night, and this time i have replied that, they will have to pay for it .
Bills included does it mean the tenants have to have the full control of the boiler ? My boiler is locked .

Ta

lucid
26-11-2005, 14:18 PM
It may well depend upon the exact term on the AST but normally means you account for the bills included in the rent, and they are in your name and you cover the cost.

As to the legality of locking the bolier I would be very careful there you may well not be allowed to do that for Health and safety reasons.

And to be quite honest i think the idea of restricting the hours the boiler is on by is ridiculous. Indeed could well be deemed to be in contravention of the right to quiet enjoyment which is a statutory term in all tenancies.

I wouldn't like to be in your shoes should a tenant object and get legal advice,

But hey thats only my opinion I suggest you go get one and check as to the legality of yours re the Gas installation and use Regs and Landlord and tenant act.

Energise
26-11-2005, 14:57 PM
The withdrawal or restriction of services (eg. gas, electricity, heating, water) is likely to be regarded as harassment.

Ericthelobster
26-11-2005, 18:34 PM
The withdrawal or restriction of services (eg. gas, electricity, heating, water) is likely to be regarded as harassment.I've never heard of anyone locking off a boiler like that; sounds utterly bizarre to me. I'd agree with Energise.

charger
26-11-2005, 19:36 PM
Hi , yes it does sound ridiculous to lock the boiler, and that is what i use to think of my previous landlord before i bought this house .
Only later on i understood the reason ; Excessive cost as the tenants will keep the heather on 24 hours and cost of the bills is scary .

The tenants have agreed since the beginning to do so ; But wouldn't like to be on the wrong side, therefore if tha's kind of illegal i will leave the boiler unlocked and I will organize the next ast contract with Bills not inclusive .

I am a new landlord and don't even like this word, as i see my tenants like people i respect

lucid
26-11-2005, 19:56 PM
Thats good then, as you wouldn't want to be in breach of Gas safety Regs, quiet enjoyment and possible harrassment in front of a judge... oops several thousand pounds later and costs.

Doubt they'd give you a safety certificate either with the boiler locked there's rules about access in emergencies to be able to switch these things off! Does it have a pilot light what if it went out, if the safety cut off went faulty you'd have a gas leak on your hands. Assuming it was a modern boliler with a safety cut off that is.

You do have corgi certs don't you?

susan 2
26-11-2005, 20:01 PM
Charger - Do you not have a separate timer for the boiler. I have a similar setup to you, with five flats sharing a boiler. The bills are added to the rent, so there is one payment each month. I set the timer to come on from 6am to 10am and then from 4pm to 11pm.This makes sure that the heat is on while they are home but off during the day while they are at work. Hot water is on constantly. The controls are in the communal hall, so that in case of very cold weather they can be changed. However next to it is a note reminding them to contact me first. If I find the bills have gone up then I simply increase them with the rent yearly. However strangely we have found that there have been no increase in usage and costs for three years. Apart of course for council tax! Tenants generally are reasonable people and the very fact that they can have some control over the heating makes a much more pleasant atmosphere. Tenants like having bills included and I personally have found it a simple system.

lucid
26-11-2005, 20:06 PM
Good idea Susan and Common sense really...much better than locking up the bolier with all the additional issues associated with that.:)

charger
27-11-2005, 17:59 PM
It seems to work , and with great surprise of all tenants i have today removed the lock .
They now said that it's not very cold anyway . However i have made sure that i reduced the rent of 10 per month to one of the most trustworthy and friendly tenant and asked him to keep an eye for me in case people go to work and leave the gas on 24hrs or lights or water .. Let's not forget that a waste is a waste and this planet will not have much resources left for too long .

BUt please, once again just for it to be clear once and for all : On the Ast contract the landlord can include the Bills or not include the Bills; There's not any half way ? I mean Including the Bills, up to a certain point and the rest will be covered by the tenants ?
Is it whether this way or that ? Or can the landlord with the new arrived tenant agree for the Bills to be paid half and half ?
I would like to know more please.

PaulF
27-11-2005, 23:39 PM
Oh dear! Another misguided landlord who gives with one and then realises he has made a mistake, and wants to withdraw something - no you can't do that.

If you ahve included "bills" which is a poorly worded phrase as it is likely to include just about everything a tenant would otherwise have to pay, such as council tax as well as all ultilities.

You can't actually just withdraw these when you draw up a new AST unless there is a commensurate reduction in the rent based on what the amount was used to cover these accounts, and can show you haven't made a "secret profit" as a result. You've painted yourself into a bit of a corner!

charger
29-11-2005, 08:37 AM
Yes paul, it is true i am not experienced.
However, since i have removed the lock everybody is happy and to be honest Susan was right . When you give freedom to people they manage quite well.
Perhaps at next tenancy i will be more careful .

susan 2
29-11-2005, 11:21 AM
Paul - You are getting a bit snipy in your old age! You do not have to keep telling new posters how wrong they are. The reason they post is for our advice and help, not to be told off for doing something mistaken through lack of knowledge. Christmas is coming - peace and goodwill to all!

ahfh1
23-06-2008, 21:04 PM
Hi all,

I currently live with lodgers in my house, and I include bills in their rent (mainly because I can keep tabs on when the utilities are being used). I'll be moving out soon but will keep the house and rent out all the rooms. I'm not sure whether to keep things as they are and include bills in the rent, or exclude bills. Here are my advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages of including bills:

- All bills will be paid on time.
- The address won't get blacklisted if tenants don't pay on time
- No chasing tenants up if bills unpaid when they leave

But run the risk that tenants can rack up huge bills knowing that I'm paying for it e.g. they can't be bothered switching off the heating.

Disadvantages of not including bills:

- Bills unpaid
- Blacklisted address
- Have to try and contact tenants when they leave if bills unpaid
- Deposit may not be enough to cover bills (e.g. deposit also used to pay for rent arrears)


What are your thoughts and experiences?

SEB
23-06-2008, 22:15 PM
Hi all,

I currently live with lodgers in my house, and I include bills in their rent (mainly because I can keep tabs on when the utilities are being used). I'll be moving out soon but will keep the house and rent out all the rooms. I'm not sure whether to keep things as they are and include bills in the rent, or exclude bills. Here are my advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages of including bills:

- All bills will be paid on time.
- The address won't get blacklisted if tenants don't pay on time
- No chasing tenants up if bills unpaid when they leave

But run the risk that tenants can rack up huge bills knowing that I'm paying for it e.g. they can't be bothered switching off the heating.

Disadvantages of not including bills:

- Bills unpaid
- Blacklisted address
- Have to try and contact tenants when they leave if bills unpaid
- Deposit may not be enough to cover bills (e.g. deposit also used to pay for rent arrears)


What are your thoughts and experiences?


I wouldn't include bills unless you live at the property, as you are currently, because, yes, the tenants can become lackadaisical and permit energy usage to be consumed unchecked.
There is also a potential fire hazard if stuff doesn't get turned off.

You shouldn't worry about your property becoming black-listed as no such thing takes place.
Properties aren't blacklisted or "marked" in any way - its the people who live in them who are marked and chased for the bills.
Their energy usage has nothing to do with you, your home or future occupiers.
Also, it is not your responsibility to chase old/existing tenants for any matter concerning any energy bill or even any phone bill. Tenants council tax bills are also nothing to do with you either.

If you really want to include energy bills, you could try including the bills up to a pre-defined level and then tell the tenants that anything over this level is for the tenants to pay for.

As you've lived in the property and with lodgers, you'll know fairly accurately what the bills should come to over the course of each quarter (winter will be higher and summer will be lower of course) and so you can average this over a year, to a month and then to a per person amount and then you add this amount to each of their rents.

When I rented out rooms in a shared house, I worked out everyone's share of each bill and "invoiced" them separately and which each tenant just added their share to their next rent.
I had setup a little spreadsheet that worked out everything for me after I entered the meter readings and the period the bill covered.
If everyone had lived at the property for the same amount of time, everyone paid the same share but when tenants had moved out/in, the spreadsheet was able to adjust the amounts to take the tenants' movements into account.

A bit of work but it seemed the fairest way to do it and it worked well for years.

If you have unrelated people living together (separate tenancies), getting them to manage the bills and take responsibility for paying them can be a problem which is why I did what I did.

If you can, I would get a group of sharers (who all know each other before they move in) to take the property and then all the bills go into ALL of their names.
They then manage everything themselves, as if the property was their own, from move in to move out.

Ericthelobster
23-06-2008, 22:46 PM
Just wondering, do you appreciate that by simply "moving out" you make a pretty fundamental change in the status of the people living in the house - from lodgers to tenants, which has major implications?

Poppy
24-06-2008, 08:34 AM
You need a formal assured shorthold tenancy agreement if you are no longer a resident landlord. Anyone who intends to stay after you have moved out must have signed an AST agreement with you.

Do not permit anyone to reside at the property without agreeing and signing an AST agreement BEFORE you move out. If they don't sign an AST before you leave, then make them move out pronto. Telling a lodger to move out is easy because they have no rights of occupation. But if you make the mistake of moving out yourself then trying to get the remaining occupants to sign - you'll regret it all the way to the courts.

I do not recommend a landlord including any bills in an AST scenario. Put that right out of your mind - it's the least of your concerns.

How many lodgers do you currently have? How many storeys in your house?

jeffrey
24-06-2008, 08:55 AM
You need a formal assured shorthold tenancy agreement if you are no longer a resident landlord. Anyone who intends to stay after you have moved out must have signed an AST agreement with you.

Do not permit anyone to reside at the property without agreeing and signing an AST agreement BEFORE you move out. If they don't sign an AST before you leave, then make them move out pronto. Telling a lodger to move out is easy because they have no rights of occupation. But if you make the mistake of moving out yourself then trying to get the remaining occupants to sign - you'll regret it all the way to the courts.

I do not recommend a landlord including any bills in an AST scenario. Put that right out of your mind - it's the least of your concerns.

How many lodgers do you currently have? How many storeys in your house?
Also, and even whilst L does reside, ensure that all lodgers sign a letting contract that includes joint and several obligation to pay/contribute towards outgoings that an AST tenant would pay (e.g. Council Tax, Water Rates/Bill, electricity/gas/telephone) but NOT those that L always pays (mortgage, property insurance, service charge [if flat], ground rent [if leasehold], property repairs, etc.)

ahfh1
24-06-2008, 12:42 PM
You need a formal assured shorthold tenancy agreement if you are no longer a resident landlord. Anyone who intends to stay after you have moved out must have signed an AST agreement with you.

Do not permit anyone to reside at the property without agreeing and signing an AST agreement BEFORE you move out. If they don't sign an AST before you leave, then make them move out pronto. Telling a lodger to move out is easy because they have no rights of occupation. But if you make the mistake of moving out yourself then trying to get the remaining occupants to sign - you'll regret it all the way to the courts.

I do not recommend a landlord including any bills in an AST scenario. Put that right out of your mind - it's the least of your concerns.

How many lodgers do you currently have? How many storeys in your house?

Thanks for pointing out that I'll need an AST before I leave. Do you know if there are any AST templates I could use?

I currently have 2 lodgers in a 3 storey townhouse.

rockedboat
27-07-2009, 16:42 PM
My friend is on benefits and is having various problems but this is well mentioned on another thread so wont go into that much.

He moved in last September to a student place as he is part time. The landlord filled in the form as council tax included but is now demanding he pay the whole houses CT bill.

I think they only put council tax included since they thought my friend would be exempt but surely since they put that its included to council they cant charge it?

The LL refused to give copies of the Tenancy Agreement.

havensRus
27-07-2009, 20:56 PM
The LL refused to give copies of the Tenancy Agreement.

That isn't right - T should by right have a copy of the AST.



I think they only put council tax included since they thought my friend would be exempt but surely since they put that its included to council they cant charge it?


student houses, I think, are exempt from CT - but if i remember rightly from a not-so-recent LL training, the LL has to apply for the exemption. If you friend is getting HB/LHA, then s/he can get their CT paid or get some assistance with the payment.

MrAgent
27-07-2009, 21:43 PM
student houses, I think, are exempt from CT.

Student TENANTS are exempt from council tax, not student houses.

You are correct about the landlord applying for the exemption however.

rajeshk4u
27-07-2009, 23:45 PM
What happens in a shared house, where only one person is a student? The rest are working...

thevaliant
28-07-2009, 06:23 AM
What happens in a shared house, where only one person is a student? The rest are working...

The non student tenants pay the council tax. If the student feels like contributing, that is up to him.

tom999
28-07-2009, 07:14 AM
"Student TENANTS are exempt from council tax, not student houses."

"What happens in a shared house, where only one person is a student? The rest are working..."

"A place occupied only by full-time students is exempt from Council Tax", i.e. no CT bill.

"Council Tax is charged per ‘dwelling’ or household, and each household gets a single Council Tax bill."

"If there’s someone in the household who’s not a full-time student the household will get a bill, but may qualify for a discount on the full amount."

"If your household has fewer than two adults who are counted for Council Tax purposes, it will qualify for a discount on the full amount. If there’s only one, you’ll get 25 per cent off . If the household doesn’t have any adults who are counted - but is not exempt - it qualifies for a reduction of 50 per cent."

Source: Directgov: Students and Council Tax (http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/EducationAndLearning/UniversityAndHigherEducation/LifeAtUniversityOrCollege/DG_071488)

Would be a good idea to contact your local authority to confirm the above as different council's may have slightly different rules.