Who to live with

Who you choose to share rented accommodation with - a situation we Kiwis refer to as “flatting” - is entirely up to you. If you prefer your own space, you might like to consider a small rental and a pet fish, or, if you’re a social butterfly, then perhaps a large flat is for you. Whatever the case, choose wisely and select relatively like-minded people to live with.

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Your flatmates may be friends, family members, fellow students or colleagues, or a group of random strangers who all need a place to live and have found each other through an advertisement or online. See Interviewing potential flatmates, as it’s important to choose your housemates carefully to promote harmony at your residence and avoid issues down the track.

If you set up a flat and sign the tenancy agreement with the landlord, you’re legally the tenant in charge. It’s in both your and your prospective flattie’s benefit to add everyone in the house to the tenancy agreement. This means everyone living in the house is legally responsible to hold up their end of the agreement.

Alternatively, you might move into an existing rental where you’re don’t have to sign the tenancy agreement with the landlord, but instead agree with existing tenants’ terms. This means you’re a ‘flatmate’ with less responsibility – but also note you may not always covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 1986.

Flatmates who have not signed the tenancy agreement are not responsible to the landlord, but are instead responsible to the head tenant(s). In these circumstances, it would be useful to have a written agreement between tenant and flatmates to establish ground rules. Any disputes between flatmates need to be taken to the Disputes Tribunal, while disputes between tenants and landlords go through the Tenancy Tribunal.

And remember, flatting is not like a marriage or buying a property, if things don’t work out then you can always move, or ask a mismatched flatmate (nicely) to leave.