Housing expenses

Whether you are renting or buying a property in the UK, you will need to budget for a range of expenses linked to your property. If you are buying a property, you will have additional costs associated with the purchase of your property, which are discussed here

Rental Deposit

It is standard practice in the UK to pay a deposit to the landlord in advance of moving into your rented accommodation. This is normally equivalent to one or two months' rent, but the exact amount may vary. Make sure you get a receipt for any deposit or fees you pay.

The landlord should refund the deposit in full when you move out, unless there has been damage to the property or its contents during your tenancy. Your landlord must not make deductions from the deposit for fair ‘wear and tear’, ie, the normal deterioration of fixtures, fittings and items which occurs through normal use during your tenancy.

It is advisable to keep a written record of all the rental payments that you make. If you have problems with your landlord, you can get advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau, which has rental specific guidance here.

Your landlord is legally required to put your deposit into one of the government-backed Tenancy Deposit Schemes. This ensures that your deposit will be protected if your landlord refuses to refund it without good reason or makes unreasonable deductions. Every scheme provides a free dispute resolution service. If you disagree with your landlord about how much of the deposit should be returned, the dispute resolution service will resolve the matter and refund the appropriate amount of your deposit.

Council Tax

Council Tax is collected by local authorities and used to pay for local services such as street lighting, road maintenance, rubbish collection and some education and social services. 

The amount of Council Tax you are liable to pay will depend on the type of property in which you live and on the area. In Oxford, this is set by Oxford City Council, and if you live outside of Oxford but within Oxfordshire, it will be set by Oxfordshire County Council.

Most individuals will have to pay Council Tax on the property in which they live, although some individuals, such as full-time students, may qualify for a discount or they may be exempted from paying altogether. Council Tax must be paid directly to the Council.

For further information, including the cost of Council Tax and exemption rules, please visit:

Utility bills (gas, electricity and water)

In the UK, the tenant is normally liable for utility bill payments though some landlords may choose to include some of these charges in the rent. The costs for gas, electricity and water may differ between providers.

Arranging utility services: You can use price comparison websites to help you decide on a provider, however, you may be restricted in the choice of providers available in your area. Some of the popular price comparison websites include Uswitch, Gocompare.com, and MoneySuperMarket.

Check with your landlord whether the property is currently being supplied with electricity, gas and water. If not, you should make supply agreements with the providers before moving into the property.

Paying for utility services: When you move into your property, you should make a note of the gas, electricity and water meter readings to ensure you are billed correctly. The independent consumer advice group, 'Which,' offer guidelines on how to get the cheapest utility tariffs here

You will usually receive a bill every three months, although you can also pay for your bills by monthly direct debit, straight from your bank account. Make sure you take a reading regularly (monthly) and alert your providers when you move out to ensure you do not overpay.

In the UK, you will often be required to show a recent utility bill as proof of residence. If you buy or rent a property together with a partner it is advisable, where possible, to sign up to providers under both of your names as this will help you to establish a UK credit history.

Telephone and internet

There may be an existing telephone line in your property. To activate an existing telephone line or to arrange for one to be installed, you will need to contact a telephone provider, such as BT, Virgin Media or TalkTalk.

There are many different providers of telephone and internet services. You can find quotes on websites such as broadbandchoices, Gocompare.com, comparethemarket, and MoneySuperMarket.

TV licence

You will need a licence to watch television in the UK, including viewing live television on devices such as your computer, mobile phone, games console, digital box and DVD/VHS recorder. Information on how to pay and the fee is available on the TV licensing website.

Contents insurance

Insurance is highly recommended to protect you against the loss of personal property and damage within your home or flat, particularly if insurance from your home country does not cover you whilst abroad. 

You may wish to protect your possessions against damage or theft. Go to the Citizens Advice Bureau website for more details.

Comparison websites, such as MoneySuperMarket, Gocompare.com or comparethemarket.com, will give you competitive rates from a variety of insurers. Your bank may also offer special deals on insurance cover.

Please note that the University does not endorse any of the external websites listed above, or elsewhere in this guidance.

Mr Micawber's recipe for happiness: 'Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.'

- Charles Dickens (1812-1870), David Copperfield