This week, the AFS team caught up with Alex Back of Glide Utilities and discussed the benefits and challenges associated with offering bills inclusive rents.
51% of the properties on AFS offer bills inclusive, why do you think this is?
The main reason is that it is what students want. The majority of students spend some time in halls of residence and get used to the simplicity of bills being included in their rent. Students are also really busy, often having to work alongside their study, so they just don’t want the hassle of managing bills in shared accommodation and the friction it can cause with housemates. This trend is reflected in a recent survey of over 1,000 students where 72% of respondents thought that having bills inclusive rents was important.
Do you think that it offers a marketing advantage to landlords?
Yes, given that so many students would like to have bills included, it can. For example, many student landlords are feeling the pressure of competition from private halls of residence. Offering similar services can help address that challenge. One thing to consider is to promote two price points when advertising your property. The headline rent without bills inclusive and the second price point with bills included within the body of your ad. That way you can get the best of both worlds and balance the price v service dilemma.
What are the main barriers for Landlords to offering bills inclusive?
Mostly the perceived hassle factor. This is really two fold. Firstly, if a landlord has several properties, it can be time consuming to administer multiple utilities across a portfolio of properties and this ‘hassle factor’ can deter people. Secondly some landlords worry that their tenants will misuse the service.
How can you help?
Glide simplify the process, by taking away the administrative burden. Our landlord customers receive one monthly bill for all of their utilities across their portfolio. Each bill itemises usage per household, so that you can keep a track of each property. Furthermore, we are able to provide all services, from the obvious stuff such as Gas and Electricity, through to telephone and broadband and even a TV licence. Finally we encourage all landlords considering offering bills inclusive to adopt a ‘fair usage’ policy. This, in effect, protects the landlord from over usage by the tenants.
What about a landlord with one or two properties?
We are happy to work with landlords with all sizes of property portfolio. We do find that many landlords with one or two properties prefer to refer their students directly to us. This way the students take responsibility for paying their own bills, but can still benefit from one simple monthly payment, reducing the friction and hassle. The great news from a landlord perspective is that we pay a referral fee for each household, so the students benefit and the landlords get rewarded.
What are the next steps.
If you are interested in offering bills inclusive properties you can contact me directly – by email email@example.com