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Newcomers and Visiting Scholars



The majority of rental agreements will not include provision for your utilities, such as: gas, electricity, water and council tax. You will need to manage and pay for these separately. If renting a property, the landlord or letting agency should be able to tell you which provider(s) the previous tenant used.

On the day that you move in, we recommend that you take meter readings for the gas, electricity and water meters, as this will ensure that you do not need to pay for any usage prior to you moving in. You can contact the gas, electricity and water companies and give them the meter readings and find out what plan you are on. Once you have this information you can compare the market and find the best deal to suit you. It can take a few weeks to switch providers.



Gas and electric are billed on usage; it is calculated by your supplier once you’ve provided meter readings. Suppliers are competitive and therefore you will often find the best deal by searching the market. Comparison websites are useful for this purpose, for example:



Water can be charged either by a standard annual charge or by exact usage if you have a water meter installed.  Further information can be found on the Cambridge Water Company website.


Council Tax

Council Tax is a tax set by the local council and helps cover the cost of services such as waste collection, police and fire services. The cost of council tax will vary depending on the Council, the type of property you live in and the market value of the property. Each council is responsible for collecting council tax from all households in its area.

When you have found your accommodation, you are legally obliged to inform your local Council within 21 days of moving in. Likewise, if you move, you must inform the Council of the change within 21 days.

All residents must register with Cambridge City Council for Council tax. It is easiest to do this on their website:  



It is recommended that you insure your belongings against loss, theft, accidental damage and fire. In some rental agreements, it is a written condition that you must have contents' insurance, so do check your contract. Price comparison websites allow you to compare quotes from different providers and find the best deal for your circumstances.



Broadband is the standard (and perhaps most cost effective) way of connecting to the internet. Broadband internet often requires a landline telephone line unless you are with a provider such as BT or have Virgin Media fibre optic broadband. In some instances, suppliers now offer broadband without a requirement to pay line rental. When looking for a broadband deal, you might want to consider:

  • How much do you intend to use on a monthly basis?
  • What speed will you require?
  • How often do you download and is there a cap within the deal?
  • Are there any installation and set-up fees?
  • The length of the contract.

Comparison websites such as moneysupermarket, uswitch and comparethemarket are a good way to compare rates.


Television (TV) Licence

You will need to purchase a TV license if you want to:

  • Watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on TV, on any channel;
  • Watch or stream programmes live on an online TV service (such as ITV Hub, All 4, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, Sky Go, etc.)
  • Download or watch any BBC programmes on iPlayer.

This applies to any device you use, including a TV, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, games console, digital box or DVD/VHS recorder.

To find out more or to buy a TV license, visit the TV Licence's webpage. You can pay for a license in one lump sum or in instalments.