View Full Version : OT: first time flatter

21-05-2003, 04:13 PM
as i know some of u are adults and have experienced flatting...i'm here to ask quessies so i know...i've been on the student websites but they are slack and dont reply etc

i going flatting yeah..but am in the process of looking, and i'm noticing alot of ppl are asking for references...but..if i havent flatted b4..what references would they want...

and what things should a first time flatter consider...money wise and other things that mite be handy to know...

21-05-2003, 04:37 PM
Make sure its not your name as in the person who has the phone bill sent to or who signed up for account. Just in case someone in the flat decides to do a runner and has run up a huge bill, this could fall back on you to pay.

21-05-2003, 05:49 PM
references would be for saying that in your last flat you payed rent and dident set fire to anything.

I would say dont flat with your good friends because they wont stay friends for long :-)

always get it in writing! this appliys to how much rent is to be payed and when , who will pay the bills , anything that involves $$

have one persons name only on all the bills and have everyone pay that person weekly or monthly.

only flat with people you can trust, your flatmates will have access to your computer your bills your secrets and your property.

as for want to look for in a flat?

a flat that wont cost more than you have :-)

things to think about would be cost of:

transport (bus, train, petrol)

where in NZ are you looking for a flat??

I Know a few people in wgtn who might have a room for you.

Jen C
21-05-2003, 06:34 PM
Hi Chris

As you haven't been flatting before you may want to ask a neighbour who has known you for a while to write a reference. This is called a character (or personal) reference. They will not be able to comment on whether you pay your bills on time or regularly set fire to the sofa, but can mention that you are trustworthy, honest, kind to small animals etc :D. You should also ask an old school teacher for a reference as well if possible.

A lot of the other things to watch out for have already been mentioned, but I would also password protect your computer as well. Depending upon how much time you spend on the net, you may want to put in a second phone line for your private use (so that you are not hogging the line) - but do put a toll bar on it.

Make sure you pick your future flatmates well, as this will be your home too and you must feel free and comfortable in it. :)


21-05-2003, 06:35 PM
ok, first time flatting - get the idea of budgetting into your head. Read up as much as you can on it, because if you can be effective with it, you will survive comfortably.

Bills are your number one priority. Get them out of the way first. Balance food in there and then other living costs/transport costs etc and then in a VERY distant last comes material items.

I agree that you should not flat with good friends - this almost always ends up with a punch up within 6 months, it's just the way it is. I am flatting with people I considered friendly - I knew them at tech, but because we werent good friends first, I am able to easily sort through problems etc Things are on a professional basis first, friendship basis second. Not the other way around. Flatting with good friends is like mixing business with pleasure - good if you can pull it off, but not recommended.

Definately flat with people you can trust.. flatting is communal living, there are bastards out there who will make your belongings theirs. There are those who will help themselves to your private space and your items.

>>have one persons name only on all the bills and have everyone pay that person weekly or monthly

I disagree. I was taught the ways of flatting by a hardened scarfie, who is now a business analyst. What you want to do is get as many people's names onto an account as possible - Get legal consultation on this, and also consult with your utility provider (elec company, telecommunications company etc); you want everyone to have equal legal standing on the bills, this is for your protection and for your flatmates protection. If someone skips the country on you, you're essentially stuck with the bill. If their name is on the bill though, they are stuck with their share whether they like it or not, and you can slam them in the courts if they try to weasel out of it.

I learnt this the hard way. I had a female flatmate for a short time who behind my back cranked up $390 bucks of toll calls. I was the only one with a name on the telephone account so I got stung, big time. Several months later, Baycorp is only just interested in paying her a visit, though I dont have much legal ground as her name was not on the bill. Now we have a permanent tollbar. My attitude is - you want to contact someone? Use your cellphone. This makes the telephone bill dead easy too - one set price for everyone per month.. no need to chase people around saying "did you make this toll call?" and then adding up all the toll calls..

You want to have everyone's name on the bills BUT have a single bank "flat account" that everyone pays into, and all the rent/bills come out of it. One person should have sole control over this account, again this is easily established in a sole-tenant situation, but a joint-tenancy situation is a bit trickier.

You want to find a flat with someone in a position of leadership - A sole tenant based flat is like this. Currently I'm the sole tenant of my flat, and I dont rule over it with an iron fist, but I make sure to sort out issues quickly, keep the flatmates updated on where things are at financially etc, I keep the responsibilities going (cleaning, cooking etc).. and because of it we have a great flat harmony. I've stayed overnight at some student flats that were just not working out, simply because nobody had risen to the challenge of leadership. The flatmates were disagreeing on silly little things, the places were a mess, and the flats did not have a good atmosphere to them, like the flatmates resented each other. You wont get that at my flat. I live in a completely functional, happy home.

Remember though that a flat is not a dictatorship, it's a democracy. Majority rules, the leader only gets casting vote.

Can you provide me with some links to the flatting/student sites you have looked at, and can you fire a whole bunch of questions my way too please?

I'm looking at writing a flatting FAQ style article.. the more input the merrier...


21-05-2003, 06:38 PM
Hmmm... well as a person looking to flat, remember that when you look at the weekly rent, remember that expenses will be additional to that... like we have a 3 bedroom place in Balmoral which rent costs $420 for.

On top of the $140 each (split 3 ways) we pay $20 per week for expenses including; power, sky digital, basic essentials (toilet paper) and also phone. We have ADSL internet access as well, and are pretty hooked up...

You would prob best look at something with a mate first, otherwise the flatting experience can be a bit daunting. Remember to check stuff out like what things you can use in the flat (internet, etc) and what expenses actually are... like does the rent cover water rates, etc? Do you share food, do you buy your own, how many toilets, etc...

I mean, there was a mate of ours who was flatting with 5 other guys, and there was only one toilet... that's just not right...

With regard to references, a lot of people don't really like flatting with people who have never flatted before... kinda sucks, which is why your first flatting experience should be with a friend or friends you trust...

Anyway, do you have things you can bring to a flat? Like a fridge, microwave, extra tv or something? Little things can be the difference... like we chose our flatmate cos he bought in an ADSL connection and a fridge... My other flatmate, and close friend supplied stuff like furniture, iron, toaster, microwave and stuff... I supplied an extra PC, 29" tv, dvd player and stuff... so it's not just the person, but what else they can bring in...

Main things to look for if you HAVE to flat with strangers is whether your room can be locked or not... it's sad, but better to be safe than sorry... other than that, that's about all I can offer in terms of advice...

Oh yeah... as for money... you really need to budget hard, otherwise you could easily overspend more than you earn and leave nothing for a rainy day... always try to save something... you never know when an unexpected bill or fine can arrive. Trust me... once you go flatting, you will realise just how sweet you've had it at home with free everything...


21-05-2003, 07:36 PM
Get everything in writing, and when you pay up get a receipt, even if this is just a notebook, and the person receiving the money, writes the amount, what for, dated and signed.This is your book, not the flats, the flat can have their own. As for a bank account for the flat, if their is no till receipt, the flat shouldn't pay for it, and check supermarket dockets, you shouldn't have to pay for someone elses personal items.

21-05-2003, 09:00 PM
Isn't most of this common sense?

21-05-2003, 09:01 PM
Yeah... could pretty much be... but what could be simple to us, might not be to him.


22-05-2003, 12:27 AM
Wow..thanks guys!..i can admit i knew some of this already...and i guess all of u are speaking from experience of ur own or familys?

i've actually been determined to find a flat and live on my own...and budgeting. have worked out how much i rather have before i move..so i can like pay a month in advance on phone power so i have a lil extra over for a start..just to stock up on food etc...is it a good idea this way?

with references...neigbours...well they have moved and got new ones here less than a few weeks so wouldnt be good asking, but my mums church pastor is a good friend of family and he knows me enuf (nearly 6-7 years i think) to know i wouldnt burn down a house with intention...i also have my old school principal's reference from when i was there..but i am guessing its not the same..or is it? coz i havent been to school for 3 years now..well nearly 3..

with companys..power and phone..i've emailed a few different companys for various prices...came back with trustpower being a cheap connecter fee of $30 nothing more..others ask for a bond of $100-$200 and a $55 fee etc...telecom for the phone, am just gonna get the line connected for internet access as yeah deaf cant use phone but of course will have a phone there for emergencys or when a friend comes over etc...

and yeah i agree with the whole flatting with friends business...its just crazy how ppl think they can do that...

have been told and also a few of u recommend me get a book of some sort for records of bills paid...rent when and etc...
is it a good idea to actually have the rent coming out every week thru automatic payment from the bank...that way its recorded on monthly bank statement?...or should i get the landlord signature or is a bankstatement good enuf?

and robsblonde...i'm moving up to Rotorua...i know u mite say its expensive considering its a tourist destination..but i've had my mind on this for nearly a month now..and saving up to $100 a week..am not even planning on moving till end of June...and every week the library gets the papers..even if its a few days behind..like we get their saturday paper 4 days later..i'm seeing a few cheap places...but yeah will travel up check out etc b4 moving..

well enuf yabber...better post this and go 2 bed...

will check on this 2morrow afternoon after town

many thanks for the posts so far :-)

22-05-2003, 09:33 AM
> Make sure its not your name as in the person who has
> the phone bill sent to or who signed up for account.
> Just in case someone in the flat decides to do a
> runner and has run up a huge bill, this could fall
> back on you to pay.

Then is a couple of solutions here,
(1) Toll bar is good, how ever toll bar does not get some telecom numbers that start with "0" (stupid telecom)

(1a) Toll bar with PIN umber, remove & replaced by telephone account payer,

(2) Toll bar, with a clear account, You dial a clear telephone number first, enter you clear number, enter your PIN umber, enter the toll number you wish to dial,

Every flat mate could have a clear card, then they get there own bill.

22-05-2003, 09:56 AM
I think I missed one option (1b)

There is a couple of solutions here,
(1) Toll bar is good, how ever toll bar does not get
some telecom numbers that start with "0" (stupid

(1a) Toll bar with PIN umber, remove & replaced by
telephone account payer,

(1b) Toll bar, every one that wishes to make toll callls have there own PI Number, When the telephone bill gomes in it might have e.g.

Bill $3.67
Mary $5.75
Sam $1.78
Jill $0.46

I am not sure excelty how it goes, I have hever seen such a bill.

(2) Toll bar, with a clear account, You dial a clear
telephone number first, enter you clear number, enter
your PIN umber, enter the toll number you wish to

Every flat mate could have a clear card, then they
get there own bill.

22-05-2003, 10:59 AM
if you really do feel the need to overcomplicate the telephone bill, take a look here (http://www.telecom.co.nz/content/0,3900,200480-1002,00.html). I still reckon the permanent tollbar + cellphone option is the best.

22-05-2003, 11:36 AM
Wow you people pay so much for flats!
I rent my sleepout out for $50/week
This covers "rent", power, and my flatmates phoneline.
I'm so greedy that i make him buy his own food and all that stuff too!

Mind you.. The cave is a complete pit.....


22-05-2003, 02:11 PM
Thought I would contribute some opinions.

In my first flat, we paid the bills on an ad-hoc basis. So a bill, say the power bill, would come in, we would divide by 4, and have x number of days to pay our share. Money would be left on the fridge, and when we had enough, we would go and pay it. But that sucked, primarily because everyone was too skint, and let the bills rack up. When they left, we settled all the bills, but its not always so friendly.

I found a better method the next time around - a joint account where all flatties pay into the account. Rent, and fixed amounts for power, phone and food. We established the power on the basis of an average monthly power account, split into four weekly payments, and divided by the number of flatties. E.g:
$100/month power bill (average)
$25/week (average)
4 flatties = $6.25

$40/month phone rental account (doesn't include toll calls)
4 flatties = $2.50

Food we budgeted at $30/week /person.

So... Rent/person +Power/Person + Phone/person + food/person = $x.xx
This is put into the joint account by Automatic Payment same day every week. AP's for the rent and phone come out at the same time (rent is paid, and the phone bill is paid by the time the bill arrives), and a Direct Debit with Genesis takes care of the power - no need for a bond if you have a direct debit (essentially the same as an AP, but Genesis don't offer an AP option). In our flat, with 3 flatmates, we put in $100/week, and $165 for rent comes out, $11 for the phone rental, $24 for the power, and it leaves us with $100 for flat food (meat, veges, essentials, etc - chocolate extra!)

This works well, but obviously if you can't trust the people you flat with, then this isn't going to work. But I'm surprised more people don't use AP's and DD's to pay their bills. So much whining about the power bills not coming for months, and not being able to pay their bills. When I set up a flat last year, I got the power connected but didn't receive a bill for 6 months. I paid my bill anyway through DD, and when they finally sent me a bill, I had a $120 credit. If it comes out of your account before you can spend it, you never notice it, and bill's aren't an issue. In a flat situation, if there's a credit when you disband, just split the money left over, or use it to pay any left over disconnection fees.

TO sum up this convoluted message:
AP's and DD's all the way!
Joint account - but everyone has a card. Weekly statements if you can, and don't be afraid to challenge unauthorised usage. If you can't trust your flatmates, then rethink your cohabitants!
Tenancy/Flatmate agreement. The first is an agreement with your landlord. V.V. Important. This sets out existing damage, so he can't screw you on the closing day, claiming you damaged his crappy carpet. Of course, if you break his windows, then you lose out. But more often than not, it's important. Lays down notice periods (like 2 days notice of inspections, 2 weeks notice of rent increases (something like that) ), rental costs, and other stuff. Just don't sign a fixed term agreement unless you really, really mean it!!! If you do, then you may be liable to pay for rent even if you move out, untill the term is over. Especially if you flat with others. A flatmate agreement is a signed contract laying down what your responsbilities and obligations are. For more on tenancy agreements go to http://www.tenancy.govt.nz/tenancy/Brochures/

For flatmate agreements, you can probably find stuff at Citizens Advice Bureau.

Listen to your common sense above all. Good Luck!