All-Inclusive or Non-Inclusive: Which Rental Option Is Best For Student Housing? 

Monday, January 16, 2017

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For many first-year students, on-campus housing is often seen as an ideal transition into independent living. Students can accept more responsibilities and independence, while still enjoying the luxuries of having mostly everything taken care of for them.


The next stepping-stone for many students is the move into off-campus housing, where even more freedom and responsibilities are awarded to them. Typically, living off-campus is where students get their first real taste of complete independence. Students can choose one of two rental accommodations.

  1. All-Inclusive: A rental accommodation where tenants do not pay their utility bills (electric, gas, sewer, water, etc. are paid for by the landlord and factored into the monthly rental rate).
  2. Non-Inclusive: A rental accommodation where the tenants set-up and pay their utility bills.

In most cases, students (specifically ones without much rental experience) will prefer all-inclusive rentals for a variety of reasons.

  • Less Hassle: Chances are, students have never had the opportunity to set-up utility accounts, aside from perhaps their cell phone. For many students, this can be unfamiliar territory filled with uncertainty. Some students would prefer the easy route of having everything bundled and set-up for them.
  • No Surprises: There’s a certain comfort in knowing exactly what is owed at the end of each month, especially for students. Living on a student budget can be tight and having to resourcefully budget for utility bills can be difficult; especially with varying due dates and fluctuating costs based on usage. Some students would prefer to just pay rent at the beginning of each month.
  • No Utility Deposits: Generally speaking, most utility providers will require new account holders to pay fairly sizable security deposits that can add up quickly. Students will have to pay first and last month’s rent up-front. Adding utility deposits can often make the first month extremely expensive and impractical for some student’s budget.
  • Less Responsibility: There’s less of a burden placed on students when they aren’t responsible for managing their utility accounts. The first few weeks of school can be hectic and having a move-in ready accommodation with utilities already set-up can make life a little easier. Plus, there’s no need to worry about canceling utility accounts at the end of the school term.

Having said all that, there are some arguments in favor of non-inclusive rentals that are worth mentioning.

  • Cheaper Rent: In most cases, non-inclusive accommodations will be considerably cheaper based on the fact that they do not include utilities. This option may be appealing to a tenant who considers him or herself energy conscious and could keep utility costs low.
  • Build a Credit History: Setting up utility accounts in a tenant’s name and always paying the bills on time is an ideal way to develop a credit history. This may not be of utmost importance to students now, but it is an important consideration for the future.
  • Pay True Usage Costs: When a landlord lumps utilities in with the monthly rent, they more or less have to guess what type of energy consumption the tenants will use. To play it safe and ensure they don’t get stuck paying out of pocket, many landlords will assume a high level of energy use. For a frugal student, the non-inclusive option gives more control over what is paid in utilities.

So which is better – all-inclusive or non-inclusive? This largely depends on the tenants and their own personal preferences; but in many cases, all-inclusive rentals tend to be favored in student housing.


SEE ALSO: Joint Leasing vs. By-the-Bed Leasing: How It Impacts Roommates

The Team