Do you have an awkward flatting situation? Then read this for tips and information on how best to deal with the situation and your rights.
No-one likes a stray, but a stray that pays is okay.
There are three single flatmates, and three bedrooms. Everyone can have a room and friends can come over and leave, whenever they want. After a while, you notice that one guy is coming over a fair bit, and staying a few times a week. Then suddenly, he and your flattie fall in love. He never leaves your flat again. He’s showering when you’re dirty, he’s eating when you’re hungry, and he and your flattie are banging against the wall every night when you’re trying to sleep. He doesn’t even live there!
What can be done? Well, you need to establish whether or not he really does live there.
If yes, he needs to be incorporated into your rights and responsibilities of your flat. It’s not all bad – this splits your rent and you don’t even need a bigger house.
You probably should clear it with your landlord if you want to do this because the landlord may not want any extra permanent resident in the house.
If no, he needs boundaries. Have a meeting with all your flatties and develop a policy:
-Each flattie can have guests stay on specific nights e.g. Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
-No guests can be in the house when the flatties are all out.
-Even something so complicated as allowing guests to stay for a maximum of two nights per week for free, but if they stay any longer it’s $15 per night.
-All guests have to make the flatties breakfast the morning after their stay.
The advice: Knock it on the head before there’s a problem. Develop something everyone agrees on before you get strays (partners or randoms).
The single girl or boy
So the flipside of the above is the singletons. You move in as two couples (double dating flat) but one couple breaks up. Awkward.
One stays with a friend for a while but she wants to come back because she is still paying to live there. What to do:
One way to deal with this is to have one of the flatties sleep on the couch, and officially turn the lounge into their bedroom. This of course means you don’t have a lounge anymore… and the only common spaces are the hallway and the kitchen (unless your house is huge). This is arguably less than ideal, though it may be a good option for the short term.
They may get back together. If they don’t, one of the flatmates may want to move out. This ultimately will increase your rent as now the cost would split among only three people. Unfortunately unless you get creative, this situation is hard to avoid, especially if only one flatmate wants to move out.
There is, of course, another problem that can be born out of this situation. The singleton brings a new girl home every night, and they do the walk of shame every morning. Depending on how liberal you are and how far apart the bedrooms are, this may be a problem.
Advice: Agree on which days and how often flatmates can have guests to stay. Buy earplugs and relocate your bed to the other side of the room (and make sure their bed is not touching the wall or ask them to disassemble their bed, so it doesn’t repeatedly hit the wall).
Cooking and buying flat goods
One flatmate doesn’t like tomatoes, another is a vegetarian, one refuses to wipe her royal bottom with any less than three ply toilet paper, while the other cannot stand the thought of eating non-free range eggs. Then there is you, all you care about is saving a dime and making sure your tummy is full and the house is clean. Shopping and cooking as a flat can be a nightmare.
Follow these easy steps to keep everyone happy:
1. Decide what meals and products you want to buy together as a flat.
you could do everything together (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, toothpaste etc), or you could just do some things (dinner on a Sunday and the essentials).
2. Decide how much you want to spend.
I know flats who have managed to survive off $20 per week for all food—it is possible!
3. Decide who will cook on what nights, and when you will do the flat shop or whether you will just purchase items when you need them.
This is the fun part! Tip: getting your “night to cook” out of the way early in the week is generally the best option.
You wake up, head throbbing, lying on the kitchen floor. Staring at the ceiling, you think to yourself “How did that block of butter end up on the roof?” You roll over, glass crinkling beneath you, and notice the massive hole in the wall. Then it dawns on you, “Oh no the flat viewing is tomorrow!”
As the tenant, you are responsible for repairing any intentional or careless damage caused by you or another person who you allow onto the premises. However, you cannot be held liable for damage that arises because of normal “wear and tear”.
The landlord has a right to inspect the premises if they have given you at least 48 hours, have not inspected the premises in the last four weeks, and plan to come inspect the premises between 8am and 7pm.
As the tenant you must also let the landlord know as soon as possible if damage is discovered or repairs are needed.
The advice: Inform your landlord of the damage, then check to see whether the landlord is legally allowed to inspect the flat tomorrow. Then, unless you want to risk having the lease terminated, or saying goodbye to all that bond money, make arrangements to repair the damage.