Dear Ethel | Issue 19

Dear Ethel | Issue 19

Signing a Lease with Shit People

OUSA’s Student Support Centre wants to help you with your issues: from dodgy flatmates to unfair grades, email your questions to and she will respond to them for you each week, right here in Critic.

Dear Ethel,

A couple of months ago, I signed up for a flat with five other people from my hall. But now three of us hate the other three. We can’t stand the thought of living with them for a whole year. What can we do?

Eeek! We have a mantra here at Student Support: do not sign your lease half a year in advance; do not sign your lease half a year in advance. 

There are a couple of options you could consider. Firstly, there’s mediation. The idea of mediation is to provide a safe space where everyone can have their say and, potentially, clear the air and move forward in a different and more positive way. Mediation is voluntary of course, so all six of you would have to be willing to give it a go. There’s a fabulous peer mediation programme here at Otago and you can find them at 

The other option you have is to attempt to assign your lease to someone else. It’s tricky to do this when you’re still five months away from actually moving into the flat! But, you can try. The thing you need to keep in mind is that if you find someone to take over your rooms, all parties need to be in agreement. That means the landlord and the other three flatties that you no longer want to flat with have to agree (and sign). 

Please don’t even think about signing up somewhere else before you’ve legally extricated yourself from this lease. You could end up with two rents to pay! It is so important to take your time when signing a lease. There are more flats than there are renters at the moment, so you are in a good position to negotiate and find good-quality accommodation when you want it. You could even sign up a place at the end of January (there will be loads of places available) and save yourself a few weeks’ rent. Shit happens and people you think you’re gonna love forever turn into freaks. Sorry you’re going through this and best of luck with getting out of it!

This article first appeared in Issue 19, 2015.
Posted 2:30pm Sunday 9th August 2015 by Student Support.