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March 10, 2008 | by  | in Opinion |
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Just moved in

OK, so you’ve just moved into your new flat, lectures have started and you drank yourself sick last week before any assignments were due. Now maybe you feel it might be time to knuckle down, as the first of the three hour labs start, and you’ve stopped shaking enough to actually do a successful titration. Hopefully the place you have moved into is not mouldy (apparently 75% of NZ dwellings are), gets some sun, and your flatmates are good, decent people who care about each other and do their bit…….Yeah, right!

The first pitfall of new flats is the bond – you need to see where it’s going. If there is only one leaseholding flatmate, they are allowed to ask you for bond, but they have to give you a receipt which says more than “Thanks, bro’” on it. If your flat has a flat account, and each person is responsible for the rental of their own room, kind of like a boarding house, each person pays rent and bond into the flat account, and usually two or so people in the flat can get access. In this case, you really need to trust those two people so they don’t run away together to Mauritius with all your money. In any case, your landlord is responsible for giving you a bond receipt, and it is required by law to be lodged with the Tenancy Bond Division. WARNING: There is a boarding house in Petone where the landlady does not give receipts for bonds, and then makes outrageous claims when you move out (“you sat on the toilet and it subsided into the floor….”) so be careful there.

The next thing which is absolutely essential is paying rent, however much this offends the sensibilities of those of you who have lived at home for free all your lives with your own personal slave (known as “Mum”). You MUST pay your rent – it is the one thing which separates us from other mammals, apart from the fact that whoever doesn’t pay their rent is truly a slimy toad (an amphibian, of course) who lets down their flatmates. The Vic students renting clique is pretty small, and word gets around – far worse to have a reputation for not paying rent than for slutting around! My current flatmate’s last place had a flat account, and when he looked at the bank statement after several weeks, he saw that two of the flatmates (he calls them “stoners”) had not paid rent for some weeks. Maybe they thought no one would notice…..? Wonder what they spent the money on? (D’oh!)

Another thing which is well worth doing as soon as you move in is to note anything that is in poor repair. Things which the landlord must fix immediately are stuff like broken windows and anything else which threatens your security (ex boyfriends don’t count), as well as anything to do with regular running water, sanitation and electricity (like burst pipes, blocked toilets or ‘naked’ electrical fittings). If you are about to move into a place and there is anything life-threatening, just one word of advice – DON’T. Also, remember that if you blocked the toilet, you will have to pay to have it unblocked – I know it sounds really icky, but find somewhere else to put those used condoms and tampons……. Also, please please please don’t keep using a blocked loo. (gross!!)

If you have not had to do very much housework over the years, now is the time to change your attitude. One flatmate of mine did his dishes so seldom that we ended up putting them in his bed, only to find that his room was so damp that he had mushrooms growing underneath it! I know a lot of people hate it, but the good old roster system is tried and true. The arrangement my flatmate and I have is that the one who did the housework last time doesn’t have to do it this time (only you forgot to clean the microwave, R. – maybe I should remind you in the normal way instead of publishing it?) But I am the naughty one anyway – I forgot to do it last weekend – I swear I’ll do it this week… (really… I will… as soon as I have time… I get so busy writing for Salient…)

In a new flat you not only have to try to control yourself by trying really hard (and this seems almost impossible) not to screw the crew, for obvious reasons, but you need to go one step further. Try to control your friends. No one likes having a cold shower because your girlfriend who stays over all the time used all the hot water and then left her hair in the sink. (that is so revolting). When she then stays in the bathroom for 45 minutes when everyone else has 9am lectures, that is just criminal and you should “Kick ‘er to the curb” before one of your flatmates beats you to it. Very noisy friends late at night and ones who smoke should be sent outside in all weather, and you need to tell your friends which food and drink is not yours. Finally, you will be very unpopular if you tell your friend it’s ok to park in the residents’ only parking and actually get them a permit. (Yes, someone actually did this!!)

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t use what isn’t yours. Nothing is worse than getting up and finding that some bastard who got up before you has finished your coffee/milk/bread/ sugar AND has buggered off with your favorite mug (and then claims they didn’t and blames it on someone else). The only time this is acceptable is if you do what my flatmate R. did. He and his friends drank all my Export Gold, but they replaced it with more! And shared his bourbon, and vodka and rum….. (Yeeha! Bless his cotton socks).

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