Take meter readings
It's easy to forget this, but take a meter reading for your gas and electricity when you move in (if you are unsure of the location of your meters, ask your accommodation provider). This way, you can pass this on to the suppliers to ensure you aren't charged for the previous usage.
If you have the cost of the bills included in your rent payment, your provider will either keep the utility bills in their name and pay them on your behalf or request that the bills are put in the tenants’ names and the paper bills be passed to them for payment.
Either way, it’s important that you keep track of how much gas and electricity you are using. We recommend you take meter readings on a monthly basis, and you may want to supply this information to the energy supplier and your accommodation provider, to ensure that the bills are not estimated. Energy providers usually over-estimate usage, so you could end up paying more than what you should. It is also important to check with your accommodation provider before the start of a tenancy whether there is a cap on utility bill usage, even if bills are fully inclusive.
Know where the stopcock is
Your mains water tap (stopcock) is the off-switch for all the water in your home. Hopefully you'll never need to use it but if you don't know where it is and a pipe bursts, you'll be powerless to stop it flooding your home.
If you don't know where yours is, check NOW. It could be under the kitchen sink, by the boiler, in the airing cupboard or elsewhere in the property. If you don't know where it is, ask your accommodation provider to show you.
Check your inventory
The accommodation provider may provide a report/inventory to you, however when you move in to the property we recommend you make an inventory/condition report of all the furniture and the condition of all the fixtures and fittings (make sure to take dated photographs of any disrepair or damage, however minor you might consider it to be). We also advise that you sign the inventory and email or post this to your provider, so there is a written record of them being informed of the condition of the property at the very beginning of the tenancy. You should do this even if they do not request an inventory.
Towards the end of the tenancy you should arrange for a property inspection with your accommodation provider or alternatively if this is not possible, complete another inventory/condition report and send this to them again.
Ensure that you have the appropriate household contents insurance cover and that important documents are kept in a secure place ie. safe from fire and flood. Contact your provider if you are unsure what level of insurance is in place, it is likely that they will only have insurance to cover the building, however some providers may include contents insurance as part of your tenancy agreement.
See this handy guide explaining what contents insurance is, what it covers and what to look for when purchasing a policy.
Boiler and appliance manuals
Check to see if your accommodation provider has provided manuals for the use of the boiler and other appliances, as it’s important that you know how to use them correctly to prevent damage. If not, request them from your provider or download them from the internet.
Check you have the correct bins
It's important to keep on top of household waste. Bins need to be put out at the right time and place, and stored away between collection days to ensure they don't get lost or stolen. Visit our dedicated recycling and waste page for further information on managing waste and recycling effectively.
If you rent, whether an entire property or a room in a shared property, you must be covered by a valid TV licence to watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV, whether that’s online, on a TV, or on any other device such as laptops, tablets or games consoles. You also need a TV licence if you also wish to download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer, although you do not require a licence if you only watch on demand or catch up programmes on services including All 4, Sky Go, ITV Hub, Netflix, Amazon & NowTV. If you are unsure on whether you need to be covered by a TV licence, please visit the TV licence FAQ page, and dedicated student TV licence page.
If there’s a joint tenancy agreement for the whole house, you may only need one licence. However, you may need your own licence if your accommodation is self-contained – i.e. you have exclusive access to washing facilities or you have your own entrance to the property. If you have an individual tenancy agreement for your room, you’ll need to be covered by a separate licence. Usually you'll have to organise this yourself (or between yourselves if in a shared house). But speak to your provider first, as they may already have a licence for the property.
Please visit our dedicated fire safety page for top tips to keep safe from fire in your home, and more key information on areas such as planning your escape route.