C5 - Having a Flatmate
A flatmate is someone you share your home with on a more-or-less equal footing. If you are in rental accommodation, there may be restrictions on the number of people who can live
there, and so you may not be able to have a flatmate.
You may arrange for your flatmate to have a furnished room. However, you will need to clear all the existing personal belongings out of the room, leaving them with a bed, desk,
chair, wardrobe and dresser.
If they have their own furniture, you will need to find somewhere else to put the room's original belongings.
Your flatmate should be able to lock their bedroom door for their own privacy, and they should be able to access and leave your house at any time, so they will need their own
house key. Also, clear them some space in your kitchen cupboards and fridge so they can store their own food.
If the flatmate does not have their own bathroom, you'll have to share bathrooms. Make sure you settle on some agreements about this, such as, how the cost of supplies (eg,
toilet paper, soap, cleaning products) and cleaning will be shared. Before anyone moves in, decide how you wish to share common areas in your house. Also, clarify if any parts of
your house or any of your possessions are 'off limits' before your flatmate agrees to move in.
It may be best not to let your flatmate store any of their things in other parts of your house (eg, your garage, even if it's empty) because you do not want to be responsible for
their possessions if they move out and leave things behind or if there is an accident that damages their possessions.
There are some questions you can ask prospective flatmates that will help you find the right sort of person for you and your living arrangements. These questions include:
- What's your definition of 'clean'?
- Do you ever work from home?
- Do you expect to have any overnight guests?
- How much do you plan to cook?
- How do you feel about sharing a bathroom?
- Do you need internet access?
- Do you smoke or drink?
- Do you have a car?
- Having someone live with you can provide you with help and companionship.
- A flatmate can provide you with extra income and share some of your living costs.
- You may need to be more considerate and compromise on some of the ways you live.
- You will need to follow the flat agreement as well (eg, when it comes to having family over or to stay for any length of time).
- You will need to accept someone else using your things, especially in the common living areas such as the kitchen and living rooms.
- You may have to pay tax on the income you receive from a flatmate.
- There may also be insurance implications to having a flatmate.
- If you receive the living alone rate of NZ Superannuation or Veteran's Pension and someone over the age of 18 comes to live with you for longer than 13 weeks, then you will
lose your living alone payment.
- If you receive help with your housework because of a disability, you may lose that help if you have an able-bodied person living with you.
What do I need in order to take this option?
- You need to be willing and flexible enough to share your home with someone else.
- You will need to work out how much you will charge in rent.
- If possible, get at least two references for any potential flatmate that tell you what their previous flatmates have thought of them. You may also want to do an internet search
on them to find out if there's anything important you should know about their history.
- The flatmate will need to pay a bond before they move in. This money is lodged with Tenancy Services and is returned to the flatmate when they leave, unless they leave you with
outstanding expenses or damage to your house.
Could this option limit my future choices?
It is important to have a clearly defined exit strategy so that you can make changes in future if you wish.
For more information