Instant Access Properties

Instant Access Properties

March 28, 2007 19:01 ET

Instant Access Properties: Utility Bills Cost Tenants An Unexpected £7 Billion A Year

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - March 29, 2007) -

Strictly embargoed until 00:01, 29 March 2007

Nearly all (98%)(i) first-time tenants forget to take into account the extra costs associated with renting a property when deciding where to live, new research reveals.

Electricity, gas, water and council tax bills are the lowest priority for new renters - with just 2% saying they make a decision on a property with these factors in mind. Rent (37%) is the biggest influence, followed by the location of the property (14%), how safe the surrounding area looked (9%) and the choice of local amenities (5%).

Figures from the 'Rental Requirements Report' by leading residential property company, Instant Access Properties, show that two in five (41%) British tenants paid out more than they expected to in their first year living independently.

Half (49%) of the tenants surveyed admitted they were shocked at how expensive energy bills were the first time they rented; perhaps not surprising when figures show that British tenants spend a staggering Pounds Sterling 7 billion(ii) on electricity and gas each year. More than three quarters (76%) said high fuel prices are a bigger concern than things such as missing rent or smoke alarms failing.

Four out of ten (43%) tenants said they would consider a move to new build accommodation to take advantage of a 67%(iii) reduction in utility bills.

Anthony McKay, chief operating officer of Instant Access Properties, said: "Despite energy providers cutting their prices recently, the cost of the average annual bill is still very high and all would-be tenants need to ensure they have enough funds to cover these costs as well as their rent payments.

"There are measures people can take to ensure their outgoings are not over-stretching them and tenants may want to consider recently-built homes, which are vastly more energy efficient and so cheaper to live in than older properties."

In response to its findings, Instant Access Properties has teamed up with the National Landlords Association to create a Top Ten Tips for first-time tenants on what to look for when renting a first property.

John Socha, vice chairman of the National Landlords Association, added: "The figures from the report are startling and just go to show how many people forget to consider the added financial burden of costs such as fuel bills before renting. We hope our Top Ten Tips will arm first-time tenants with all the information they need to find the right property for them."

The Top Ten Tips are available to download from


1. Do your sums

Be fully aware of what you can afford to spend each month by calculating your outgoing budget. The main cost is usually rent, but bills such as electricity, gas, water, council tax, TV licence, contents insurance and telephone/internet can also add up. These items are considered essential, so make sure you know what you can realistically spend.

Don't forget To factor in the cost of food, travel and social spending into your outgoing budget, too.

Did you know? If you are living alone, you can claim a 25% single person discount on your council tax. Simply call up your local council offices or check the government's website on

2. Consider new, energy efficient properties

By renting a property that's not decades old, you could save yourself up to Pounds Sterling 600 a year on fuel bills. Flats and houses built in the last few years are far more energy efficient and are invariably cheaper to live in than their older counterparts.

3. Get ready to negotiate

Everyone knows you can barter when buying a house but did you know you can do the same when renting? Make sure you haggle with the landlord or agency on the listed rental price and you could save money.

4. Look at commuting costs

Work out the cost of your commute to work before you take on a property. Living out of town can mean lower rent, but you need to establish the additional time and cost it could take you if you live further away from where you work.

5. Think about the extras

If you're looking at new developments, some include gyms and other recreational facilities in the rental price. You could find that it works out cheaper to move in somewhere where the cost of keeping fit is already part of the deal.

6. Security is everything

Take some time to walk around the neighbourhood and see if you think it feels safe. If you are moving into a block of flats, check that all the doors and windows in the property are secure. Some older properties may be lacking in decent locks and burglar deterrents which could have a knock-on effect for your insurance premium.

7. Insurance is a must

Take out a good contents insurance policy that will cover the total value of your possessions. Remember to check that it includes cover for accidental damage to the landlord's fixtures and fittings - a dropped aftershave or perfume bottle can cause damage to an expensive bathroom hand basin and without the right insurance you could be forced to foot the bill.

8. Services can cost

Be prepared to pay for reference checks - all estate agents will ask you to do this and some landlords will, as well. Also, find out whether you have to pay for the first inspections of the property - some agents charge these to new tenants and you need to budget for it.

9. Make sure your deposit is protected

From April 6th, the government is introducing a new initiative to protect tenants' deposits. Under the new rules, landlords can only hold onto your deposit if they are signed up to an insurance policy or it can be paid into a custodial scheme that keeps it safe for you. Alternatively, the money can be paid to a recognised letting agent. Be sure you are aware of these rules and that your deposit is going to be protected.

You can find out full details of the new legislation at

10. Read the small print

Your contract with the landlord or letting agent may be a long, daunting document, but make sure you read every word and query anything that you're not sure of. Don't sign until you fully understand everything.

Case studies and high-res PDF versions of the Top Ten Tips are also available on request.

Notes to editors:

(i) Instant Access Properties commissioned YouGov to speak to 562 British tenants in February, 2006.

(ii) Based on average fuel bills cost - Pounds Sterling 900 (Energywatch, July 2006) x no of rented dwellings in the UK - 7.78m (Communities and Local Government Office, 2005)

(iii) Average cost of new build home fuel bills are Pounds Sterling 300 per year (Energywatch, 2005)

- Instant Access Properties has more than 8,500 members and has sourced more than Pounds Sterling 550m in quality residential property over the last 12 months. Instant Access Properties members have consistently been the largest buyers of new build property in the UK, Florida and Spain investor markets.

- The National Landlords Association, founded as the Small Landlords Association in 1973, has members right across the United Kingdom, including five special corporate members, Birmingham Midshires, Bristol & West, Mortgage Express, Mortgage Trust and Paragon, and forty local authorities who are associate members. It protects and promotes the interests of private landlords of residential property and represents their views to government, local authorities and the media. The NLA seeks a fair legislative and regulatory environment for the private-rented sector while aiming to ensure that landlords are aware of their statutory rights and responsibilities. It campaigns to raise standards in the private-rented sector whilst fostering a professional and amicable relationship between landlord and tenant.

Contact Information

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    Sam Holl or Jo Misson
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