Dos and don’ts for first-time flatters
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 Neighbourly.co.nz 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.