Sharing a house or flat

Sharing a house or flat with someone else can be a good way to cut down on rent and other costs.  Usually, all the people in the house divide up the cost.

Finding a flat

Finding a flat depends on whether you want to start your own flat, or move into an existing flat.
If you want to start your own flat you’ll need to find a home to rent and the other people to live in it with you. Remember, everyone shares all the costs and responsibilities of the flat so make sure your flatmates are reliable and will pay their share.

To find a place in an existing flat, try:

  • the 'Flatmates wanted' section on the Trade Me website
  • local newspapers
  • noticeboards in supermarkets and community centres
  • advertising on noticeboards, or on Twitter or Facebook, saying you're looking for a flat
  • talking to family and friends to see if they know anyone looking for a flatmate.

Choosing flatmates

Whether you’re planning to share with friends or people you haven’t met, there are important things to think about.

  • If possible, flat with people you know.
  • If you need to choose someone you don’t know, make a list of things that are important to you. For example, a non-smoker, clean and tidy, ok with pets, similar goals, interests, lifestyle and values.
  • You need to feel comfortable with the person you’re about to share with, as asking an unsuitable flatmate to leave can be awkward.

Once you've found your flatmate

It's important to understand your rights and responsibilities as a flatmate or head tenant. You might want to have a written flat or house sharing agreement.

Make sure you talk about household rules, for example:

  • how money and bills will be managed
  • cleaning
  • buying groceries
  • sharing space
  • telephone and internet use.

University accommodation websites have good advice for first-time flatters.

Financial help

Whether you're the head tenant or the flatmate, moving into a flat can be expensive at the start. You usually have to pay a bond and some rent in advance. If you can’t afford this, you may be able to get help with the initial payments or to meet ongoing rent payments.

It’s a good idea to check with Work and Income, Senior Services or StudyLink (if you're getting support from them), to see what financial help you can get before you agree to take on the room.