Dos and don’ts for first-time flat­ters

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By SARAH MOORE

Flat­ting is a right of pas­sage for young New Zealan­ders; quintessen­tially Kiwi and a heap of fun when it’s all go­ing well.

But it can also be a source of stress, not to men­tion awk­ward mo­ments, that can be avoided with a bit of for­ward plan­ning and a few ground rules. En­sure first-time flat­ting is flat-tas­tic with this handy list of dos and don’ts.

Do make sure white­ware comes with your flat.

If you do need to buy ap­pli­ances, think about ask­ing ev­ery­one to buy one each, rather than ev­ery­one pitch­ing in. Things get com­pli­cated if some­one who par­tially owns the fridge moves out.

Web­sites like Neigh­ are great places to find cheap – and of­ten free – ap­pli­ances.

Do get the low-down from cur­rent res­i­dents. It’s not al­ways pos­si­ble but if you can, ask the ex­ist­ing ten­ants how cold the place is in win­ter, what their av­er­age power bill is and what the land­lord is like.

Do set up a clean­ing ros­ter. Piles of un­washed dishes and filthy toi­let bowls can cause dishar­mony among the tight­est bunch of flat­ties, so give each flat­mate a clean­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity of their own.

If no-one likes clean­ing, think about pay­ing for a cleaner.

For about the price of a pint of beer each you can prob­a­bly find a cleaner for a cou­ple of hours ev­ery week. And re­mem­ber – there’s a big dif­fer­ence be­tween a moun­tain of dirty dishes and the odd cup left on the bench – don’t be ‘ that flat­mate’.

Do get con­tents in­sur­ance. If you value your stuff, this is a no brainer; you just never know what’s gonna hap­pen to it.

Do know your rights. If yours is the only name on the ten­ancy agree­ment, you’re en­tirely re­spon­si­ble for what hap­pens in your flat – even if it’s not your fault. Ev­ery­one who signs the agree­ment is equally re­spon­si­ble. Con­tact your Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Bureau or the Ten­ancy Tri­bunal if you have any prob­lems with your land­lord or flat­mates.

Don’t for­get about the bond. Most land­lords ask for one be­fore you move in so it can be pretty ex­pen­sive. The bond cov­ers dam­ages just in case you or the flat­ties trash the house and is nor­mally up to four weeks’ rent plus two weeks in ad­vance. Don’t fret though; if you haven’t dam­aged the place you’ll get your bond back when you move out and your last two weeks of rent will be al­ready paid for.

Don’t have unan­nounced par­ties – es­pe­cially on a school night. Be­ing a rude flat­mate is just plain, well, rude.

Treat ev­ery­one with re­spect; that in­cludes keep­ing noise lev­els to a min­i­mum. If you do want to have a party, make sure ev­ery­one’s OK with it – and do con­sider invit­ing your flat­ties too!

Don’t cook to­gether. If you’re a lit­tle Cor­don Bleu while your flat­mates’ ef­forts are just a bit ‘bleugh’ – or if your flat is full of so­cial but­ter­flies and you’re rarely at home to­gether, con­sider do­ing your own cooking. Set­ting aside space in the fridge and pantry for each per­son will help deal with clash­ing sched­ules – and dif­fer­ing tastes. Think about buy­ing com­mon con­sum­ables like milk, mar­garine and Glad Wrap out of your weekly flat ex­penses, though, since you’re all likely to use it.

Don’t smoke in­side. Even if you’re all smok­ers, the nico­tine will stain the walls and ceil­ing and it’s near im­pos­si­ble to re­move when it’s time for the crew to move out. Plus it’s 2015 – smok­ing in­doors is so 90s.

Don’t mix kisses with dishes. Avoid awk­ward con­ver­sa­tions the morn­ing af­ter by es­tab­lish­ing clear flat­mate bound­aries.

If you value your stuff, con­tents in­sur­ance is a no brainer; you just never know when you’re go­ing to need it.

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