Flatting is an important part of the university lifestyle, offering both responsibility and freedom. Dunedin has a wide range of rental accommodation from historic houses to multi-unit, purpose-built complexes.
Information About Flatting
What is a lease?
There are two types of lease
1. A Periodic lease is not for a specific term. It continues until the landlord or tenant gives the correct notice to end it.
- The tenants should give three weeks notice to end the tenancy
- A landlord should give three months written notice
- A landlord can raise the rent after 6 months
2. A Fixed Term Lease finishes on a specific date. There is no provision for either the landlord or the tenant to give notice to quit.
- Security of tenure for the period of the lease
- A commitment that the rent will not be increased unless an option to increase is included in the lease
- The opportunity to renew the lease for the following year
- Terms and conditions of tenancy can not be arbitrarily changed
A lease is a signed legal agreement (covered by the Residential Tenancies Act) between the tenants and the landlord. It sets out your names and home addresses, how much rent you pay, the length of the lease and any other conditions you have agreed on. If your lease states that you are "jointly and severally liable" the names and addresses of all individuals in your group should be on the lease.
When do we sign?
When you have seen a flat you like and all in the group are satisfied with the conditions of the lease, you and the landlord sign the lease for the flat. If you sign a lease when you do not have enough people to fill the flat you could be responsible for paying the rent for vacant rooms. If you will be leaving at the end of the first semester do not sign a lease for the full year.
Make sure you have
- Enough flatmates for every room
- Everyone is present to sign the lease
- You have a property inspection report and a complete list of chattels
When should I look for a flat for 2014?
Vacant flats and rooms in flats are readily available from mid July. Some students will wait until they return before Semester 1 before they look for a room in a flat.
How do I find a flat if I don’t have a group?
If you want to join a flat that is already established you can obtain a list of students advertising for flatmates from the Accommodation Office. This is easier than starting a new flat especially for your first year or if you are new to Dunedin. Some flats have several vacancies. You should check that you and prospective flatmates share similar attitudes to budget, cleanliness, quiet times, etc. If you want to form a group to look for a flat you can record the details on a card file available at the Student Accommodation Centre.
What equipment is in the flats?
Curtains, floor coverings, a cooking stove, fridge and washing machine are usually provided. Apart from these items, most flats are unfurnished with a growing number of flats fully or partly furnished. You can buy good furniture and kitchen equipment cheaply from Trade Me or second hand stores. Furniture and appliances such as clothes driers, microwaves, TV’s etc can also be rented. Different members of your group may be able to bring items from home eg toaster, iron, electric jug, sandwich maker, etc. Setting up the flat as you want it is an important part of getting started.
How much will it all cost?
You will need to buy all your groceries and cleaning products, pay for your electricity and telephone as well as your rent, transport and entertainment. If you are a new group you may also have to pay power and phone connection fees. You and your flatmates need to agree on a budget. Out of this the shared bills and expenses are paid. If you are filling a vacancy in an existing flat, many of these matters will already have been organised and you should expect to pay your share. Flats cost approximately $95-$135 per week per person for a 52 week lease. In 2013 the average rent for a room in an unfurnished 5 person flat is $118.00 per week.
What insurance should I have?
The landlord is responsible for insuring the building. As a tenant you need to have your possessions adequately covered by an all risks policy. It is also advisable to take out liability cover in case of major damage to the landlord’s property (eg a fire caused by cooking or by an electrical fault in an appliance owned by the tenant).
Why have a roster?
Flatting groups draw up a roster so tasks can be shared: cooking, tidying, washing dishes, cleaning the flat (eg the bathroom, toilet, kitchen, lounge) shopping, putting out rubbish, etc. Each person’s turn to do the different tasks may be for a day, a week or more. The Otago University Students’ Association Flatting Agreement is a useful document for intending flatmates to use. Copies are available at the Accommodation Office and the OUSA Office along with the OUSA Flatting Magazine.
A good roster that everyone keeps to will reduce friction between flatmates.
What are Studio Rooms?
There are a number of privately owned, good quality houses offering accommodation suitable for quiet, mature students and postgraduates. Most are located close to both the campus and city centre.
These furnished rooms generally provide a fridge and tea making facilities (some also include a microwave). Well appointed kitchen and bathroom facilities are shared although some rooms have ensuites. The common areas of some houses are serviced regularly. Some or all of the electricity and use of a house phone are included in the rent. These rooms are usually let to single people but a few are suitable for couples.
Each resident has an individual lease and the lease period is negotiated with the landlord. Rents range from approximately $180 - $350 per week depending on the size of room and the range of services and facilities included.
Dealing with Problems
If you have problems with either your flatmates or your landlord, advice can be obtained from:
The Student Accommodation Centre
109 St David Street
Tel 03 479 5100
Fax 03 479 8249
The OUSA Student Support Centre
Tel 03 479 5448
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
PO Box 10-729
Tel 0800 83 62 62 (0800 Tenancy)
The Community Law Centre
52 Filleul St
Tel 03 474 1922 or 03 477 9562
Fax 03 474 9521
Monday - Thursday 5:30 - 7:30pm
Tuesday and Thursday 12:30 - 2:00pm
Saturday 11:00am - 1:30pm
Before course approval begins in the first semester each year, the Accommodation Office organises a hospitality programme to help you find accommodation. The hospitality programme starts after Waitangi Day in February and runs for up to three weeks depending on demand.
Information will be available at Dunedin Airport and at the Student Accommodation Centre on campus. During Orientation Week if you are looking for a flatmate or want to join a flat consider Speed Flatting. Contact the Student Accommodation Centre for more information about this event.