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It's the season for frayed tempers among flatmates

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  • It's the season for frayed tempers among flatmates

    It's the season for frayed tempers among flatmates
    5:00AM Monday April 30, 2007
    By Anne Gibson

    A voluntary Auckland tenants' organisation is expecting a flood of disputes and complaints as flatmates find they cannot live together and begin fighting.

    Angela Maynard, executive officer of the Auckland Tenants' Protection Association, said combative co-habitants usually arose in autumn.

    Flats which were formed early each year often struck problems around March or April. Then, the tussling tenants called her organisation to seek help to resolve difficulties which were often disagreements about money.

    But the association has to tell many truculent tenants they have limited powers because they failed to have their name entered on the tenancy agreement when they rented the place, she said.

    The association is encouraging all flatmates to have their names on the agreement with the landlord so that if disputes arise all are protected by the Residential Tenancies Act.

    "We encourage all tenants to be on the agreement," she said. "Then the landlord and those tenants listed have rights under the act." The association also encourages warring tenants to maintain steady rental payments to keep their property.

    It has a model flatmates' agreement which it is encouraging people to complete.

    Angela Maynard said flats in Auckland were in good supply and many students leaving the city in December did not pay to keep their places. Some Dunedin students paid a nominal rent to keep their flats but this was due to a squeeze on accommodation there, she said. Auckland rents had not risen lately because wages had not risen.

    Barfoot & Thompson's average weekly rent remained almost static last year, moving from $348 a week in January to $359 at the end of the year.

    Auckland property management firm Crockers said average median rents for three-bedroom houses had risen nationally from $252 a week in 2003 to $295 last year. Auckland rents rose in line with the national trend in the three-year period. Ponsonby rents rose from $549 to $555, Papakura $264 to $298, Mission Bay/St Heliers from $496 to $516 and Takapuna from $410 to $452.

    Angela Maynard said the association, which has a monthly budget of $2000, fielded 1171 inquiries, complaints and requests for information last year. Many tenants are referred to the Department of Building and Housing's inquiry line.

    But the number of people calling on its resources fell last August when it was forced to leave Auckland's CBD for a fringe city location. The association has shifted to Trades Hall at 147 Great North Rd in Grey Lynn because of rent costs.

    Flatmates, Take Heed

    The Auckland Tenants' Protection Association tells flatmates:
    * Put all tenants' names on a tenancy agreement.
    * Sign this agreement before you shift in together.
    * Agree on what your responsibilities and duties are.
    * Agree on how much money will be paid and when.
    * Agree on the bond and compensation for any damage.

    "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx