As if moving wasn't expensive enough. The deposit on your new place, hiring a van, picking up any new furniture you need – it all adds up. But sometimes the biggest surprise comes from those end-of-tenancy bills.
No matter how well manage your utilities throughout your tenancy, sometimes those final bills end up being much higher than ever expected – prompting empty bank accounts and a couple of hours on hold while you wait to talk to a human being about the whole thing. Even if they're at your normal rate, the extra cost of those final bills at an irregular time can be one you don't need.
If you're looking to keep the cost of moving house as low as possible – or even if you just want to make sure you're paying a fair amount for what you've used – then these simple tips should help keep costs down.
Don't neglect your meter
Collecting meter readings should be near the top of any moving house checklist, but it's something you should be doing throughout your tenancy too. Unless you're on a pay-as-you-go meter, submitting meter readings is essential – and it only takes a couple of minutes!
If you don't submit meter readings, your gas, water and electric bills are estimated, and may not reflect your actual use. This could mean you're paying too much throughout your tenancy – or it could mean you're paying too little, only to get hit with a much bigger bill when that final, unavoidable meter reading is carried out when you move.
Regular meter readings are key – your utilities providers should prompt you when they're needed. But if you're about to move, submit one as soon as you know, to ensure that your bill from your final reading is manageable.
Account for fees
No one likes cancellation fees and, fortunately, many companies are starting to get the message. Although they're probably more common for internet or TV contracts, some utilities companies will have them, but it may vary from account type to account type, or when your tariff terms end. UKPower have a great list that you can view here, which can help you work out whether or not you will need to pay a fee, and factor that into your moving budget.
Internet or TV contracts, on the other hand, will likely have minimum service periods, which will result in an early termination charge if you want to leave the contract early. Others may have a minimum notice period – it's often best to notify as early as possible to avoid fees, as well as a seamless transition to your new home.
Check your contract, search online, or call up the company to find out, and you'll be able to plan ahead in the event of any extra charges.
If you need to put some extra money aside, take a look at the Money Advice Service budget planner and other money management tools.
Should you switch?
It's all too easy to just go with the flow when moving from one rented place to another. The easiest option is usually closing your account at one, and sticking with whatever your landlord already has in place at the next – after switching the accounts to your name, of course. But you always have the option of switching providers – you may have to ask permission, but it's against the law for your landlord to refuse you the ability to do so.
Whether to switch at the end of your tenancy, or take your account with you when you move, is really up to you – you'll have to settle the final bill for your current property either way – but you may be able to avoid cancellation fees by switching.
Of course, one of the best ways to save money in the long run is to switch providers tariffs – but if you're worried about the costs climbing while you move, it may be best to take your account with you and switch when you're better able to afford any extra charges.
Question anything unusual
If fees and final fees look too high, they might be – we're not saying providers are pulling a fast one, but you certainly wouldn't be the first person to see mistakes made on your account! It's no one's favourite activity during the stress of moving, but enduring the hold queue to talk to someone at the company in question can often clear things up – there's no guarantee of course, but you may be able to see fees written off, bills from erroneous meter readings reduced, and perhaps the negotiation of a better deal in future.
If you really think something is unfair, but your supplier feels differently, then it may be a good idea to talk to Citizens Advice for a little extra help.
Don't forget council tax!
It's easily forgotten, but don't forget to put in a call to the council as well – particularly if there's going to be an overlap period between you getting the keys for a new place and handing back the keys for the old.
Depending on when you want to move in your billing period, and if you're using direct debits or not, you could see yourself paying twice for the same month. You shouldn't have to – but councils' systems can be very slow to update.
Don't just assume you've done it wrong – if you call up and explain your situation, you can get refunded for any duplicate payments.
When moving house, planning and budgeting is what's most important. Taking a little bit of care in the weeks or months leading up to moving day – perhaps even starting when you begin looking for somewhere new – can save you plenty of headaches, and mean any costs can be dealt with a little easier.