It’s an exciting time — you’re moving into a new apartment! How’s that moving checklist coming along? While there are likely still a few things left to do before moving day, an important one to note is setting up the utilities in your apartment. Your utilities should be high priority, as they’re essential for a comfortable living space.
But maybe you aren’t looking to set up, and instead, are looking to transfer your utilities from one apartment to the next. Either way, we’ve got you covered.
Types of Apartment Utilities
While some apartments offer utilities as an amenity, others give tenants the ability to choose their own providers. This allows residents to pick their plans based on the criteria that’s important to them, such as price and length of contract. These are the types of utilities you may need when moving apartments:
● Natural Gas
● Internet, Cable, and Phone
● Security System
Some apartments and appliances may solely run on electricity, making natural gas an irrelevant household item (at least for your new living situation). Your apartment community might even wrap water, sewer, and trash into one flat fee that you pay on top of your monthly rent. Make sure you understand your lease, what responsibilities you have as a renter, and the utilities required (and their costs) for your new home.
What is an all-bills-paid apartment?
In some cases, you may find a unit that is known as an all-bills-paid apartment, which means that as the tenant, you pay a flat rate for the rent, and the landlord is responsible for paying all the basic utility costs. This depends on the landlord, but some may choose to only pay for the basics like electricity, gas, water, trash, and sewage. Others may choose to pay for all utilities, including internet and cable. Although only paying one bill to the landlord each month will be much simpler, that one bill will likely be substantial because of everything included in the rent price.
Are utilities always included in the rent?
There are many utilities-included apartments, which is a similar way of saying an all-bills-paid apartment. The utilities that landlords pay versus the utilities that tenants pay vary by apartment. You may find a unit that includes water, trash, and sewage in the cost of rent (perhaps at a flat rate), but the property manager or landlord requires the tenant(s) to set up the other utilities like electricity, gas, internet, and cable on their own. In another scenario, you may find an apartment that requires you to set up all utilities separately in your own name. It entirely depends on the property manager or landlord, so be sure to ask which utilities (if any) are included with the rent before you sign a lease.
How to Set up Your Utilities
Before you even start the process, ask your property manager or landlord about preferred providers. These providers have an established partnership with an apartment community, and often times give out discounted plans and rates in exchange for exclusive servicing rights to the tenants’ homes.
1. Research local service providers
If you can choose your own providers, start researching companies that serve your area. Online research can help you find the best rates, plans, and coverage. While one provider may offer a better deal, another provider may have more coverage in your specific area. For instance, one internet and cable company may offer you a great discount, but another internet and cable company has better reach in that area.
2. Determine move-in date
Once you’ve found a service provider for each utility not already provided by the property manager or landlord, you’ll need to determine your move-in date so your utilities are activated by the time your lease starts. If any utilities are included in your rent, such as water, then that utility will already been set up and ready to go on move-in day.
3. Schedule an appointment if needed
After you’ve determined your dates, you’ll need to speak with the utility companies’ customer service department to turn on your services — you can do this over the phone or online. The rep may ask you to schedule an appointment if the technician has to come out and physically turn it on — and they’ll need your apartment address in the process. For example, a brand new or recently vacant apartment may have had the gas turned off by the landlord to save money. When you move in, you’ll need to schedule a technician to come out and turn the valve on.
How to Set up…
An account for water and sewage will need to be set up if it’s not already included in your rent. You can do this online at the city or county government’s website. They’ll let you know when your service and meter tracking begins, and when you can expect your first bill. Schedule this service at least two weeks before moving in.
Getting set up with electricity should only take a few minutes. You’ll sign up for an energy plan online or over the phone, and your service could be ready in as little as one day, if necessary. Be sure to schedule it at least one week in advance, but again, most energy supply companies can have you up and running in less than 24 hours.
If your appliances (stove, furnace, and water heater) run on natural gas, you’re going to need a natural gas service provider to supply it to your apartment. A gas plan can be purchased online, but a technician may need to come to your home if it’s not already on. Schedule this service at least two weeks in advance in case a home appointment is needed.
Like most residential neighborhoods, your apartment community likely has a preferred supplier for trash pickup. Whether the service fee is included in rent or as a separate item, your property manager should handle the service set up. If you do have to set it up with the city or county, schedule trash service one week before you move in.
Internet, Cable, and Phone
Many renters bundle these items to take advantage of the extra savings. High speed internet and cable installation may take a bit more time to set up than a landline, since a technician may be called out to your home to run cable lines and set up the W-Fi router and cable box. Be sure you schedule it two weeks in advance. Most companies will charge an installation fee for the set up, but some companies allow you to set it up on your own and avoid the fee.
A security system will give you peace of mind in your home, and it can even lower the cost of your renter’s insurance! If your home has a security system in place, you may just need to pay for the service if you choose to use it. If you don’t have one but would like to, you’ll have to buy the product and service. Schedule your security system installation one week prior to your move-in date.
When to Transfer Utilities or Switch Service Providers
If you’re moving locally and already have accounts in your name, you may not need to create a new account. Instead, you can simply transfer them. Transferring accounts can be done online or by phone and typically takes just a few minutes. Switching utility providers may be a better option for those whose contracts are (or almost) expired, which allows the renter to look at other providers for the best rate plans. If you go this route, you’ll have to set up a new service and will be given a new account number. But hey — you’re switching to save money, right?
When Your First Bill Arrives
Utility bills are often sent monthly with a due date on the invoice. It’s important to pay these on or before the date to avoid getting your services stopped due to non-payment. You can also change from a paper bill to paperless if you prefer this route.
You see, getting your utilities set up, transferred, and switched can be an easy process as long as you have a game plan and the right tips and tricks. Just make sure that you’ve turned off utility services at your old rental and that they’re turned on at your new apartment. And don’t forget to give the companies your unit number when you provide them with your home address!