At time of writing, Uther’s flat will not have had hot water for three and a half weeks. The landlord has claimed on no fewer than six occasions that he would come round and fix it within two days. This has not yet occurred. Uther and his flatmates have been using the shower in the abandoned house next door to maintain basic standards of hygiene (Elle: “How do you get in?” Uther: “The doors are unlocked.”)
This is not an altogether uncommon experience when it comes to rental accommodation in Wellington. There are the flats with vomit splattered—inexplicably, gravity-defyingly—on the ceiling. There are the flats where the rats are so settled in, they’ve become acclimatised to humans and will attack on sight. There are the flats with cracks in the windows, holes in the roof, mould behind the curtains, no insulation.
Of course, the actual building itself is but one part of the triangle of flatting. In one corner, there’s Good Flatmates; in the other, there’s Good Flat; and, finally, there is Affordability. You can have any two corners at the expense of the third. Either your flatting experiences can be worth shit, or your credit rating can. The need to eat usually balances that choice in your bank account’s favour.
Flatting is shit, sure, but you have to do it. Ignoring the somewhat pointless argument that flatting in a cold, leaky dump is a ‘character building’ (as though any such constructed ritual carries any weight with our development as people), the realities of the current evils of capitalism means that society basically insists that you rough it for your university years. What’s more, there’s something quite unsavory about people who live with their parents past the age of twenty.
As the cost of rent continues, relentlessly, to rise—six years ago, $120 a week would be the most expensive you’d see—landlords continue to at best not care and at worst be actively negligent. Flatting has become the bane of the post-first-year experience, rather than the first flap of your freedom wings into the real world sky.
This, our Flatting issue, is our attempt to bale out a bit of the brine that is flooding the good ship Rental Accommodation. If you’re in a Hall of Residence now: you have been warned. If you’re not, well, we don’t need to tell you about the banes of cohabitation. And if you live with your parents—get out.
Please do your dishes,
Elle & Uther *