(Top image: This room was advertised in Wellington for $220 per week. Exactly like this. At least 20 people wanted it. Image by the author.)
With the Wellington flat crisis in full swing, it seems like you need to be a 30-plus, full-time professional who volunteers at the local shelter just to get a goddamn three-bedroom apartment. There is currently one-third the number of rental properties on offer compared to last year. Ultimately, to secure a place you need to be in the top third of desirable tenants. The situation has sent flat hunters returning to university into a bit of a state, resorting to bringing CV-like cover letters to landlords with their achievements, hobbies and aspirations. Ugh.
What happens if, quite frankly, you're a bit of a nutbar and have never managed to get any of your bond back? Where do you go if you're a group of less-than-average second year university students looking for a place to pretend to be adults? The answer is: you lie.
Wellington rental properties have given us no choice. We spoke to the best of the best liars* in town and found out what stories they gave to secure their ranking in this years top third eligible
VICE: Hey Mark, so what lie secured your flat this year?
Mike: This wasn't so much a lie but a joke that somehow the landlord took seriously. A group of us kept getting rejected at every viewing and we had no idea why. We noticed everyone else around us had these cover letters so we thought we might as well give it a try. When that didn't help either, we were feeling pretty over it all. After a few drinks we made a joke cover letter and sent it to basically everyone on TradeMe. Anyway, one landlord took it pretty seriously and it just went from there. We move in next week.
What was the joke?
In every bio photo of us we had different cleaning products. I was spraying the kitchen bench and my mate was polishing the floor. You get the idea. Then for hobbies we put things like walking softly, cleaning the kitchen and silent dance parties. My reference was my family's cat Barnaby.
Surely your soon-to-be landlord knows it was a piss-take?
Yeah he must do. But he's never asked us for our actual references or actual interests so he must just be down for the laugh.
VICE: Tell me about your lying habit, Amelia.
Amelia: I was honestly forced into this one. A few days ago I had almost secured a flat for myself and five other girls, the landlord just needed to ask a few quick questions so I was like, "okay sure". I was expecting the usual ones about being tidy or what universities we go to but these questions were next level. He brought up the topic of boyfriends and kept pushing me to see if we all had any. He said he wouldn't like it if we all had boys around for one-night-stands or anything because there would be too many people in the house. Confused what to say, I panicked and said I have a boyfriend but he lives in China so will never be around.
And do you have a boyfriend?
Yes but he lives in Wellington too so I didn't really think that one through.
What if you two run into your landlord?
I guess just say he's visiting from China but he's like the most typical Kiwi bloke you can imagine. I don't even know why I said China, I'd just seen the movie The Great Wall so it must have just been in my brain.
VICE: Hi Tim, what lie got you your flat this year?
Tim: I think this year it was a mix of a lie and a bit of cold hard cash. When asked for my references I realised that they all hate the shit out of me and I was in a bit of situation. My mate is in acting school and is always going on about how good he is so I thought it was the perfect opportunity for me to test out his skills. He was my landlord for three years apparently and I was a perfect tenant. I also used my other mate for a reference from a job I've never worked at. There could be a career for actors in this shit. Probably the only career actors can have in New Zealand too.
And what about the cash?
Landlords don't really want to see any CV bullshit. I know the way they think. To put it simply, if you do a little whisper in their ear saying you're willing to pay $20 more per week it doesn't go a miss.
All this secured you a place?
Well yeah, I actually got offered two places this year so I must be pretty dope at this.
VICE: Hey Blair, tell us your deceitful ways.
Blair: I'd been having trouble like everyone else this year when my friend mentioned that having charity work on your flat CV looks really good. I was hesitant at first but by this point I was pretty desperate. I have no work experience, no hobbies and no interests. Sometimes applying for a flat is a huge wakeup call to be like wow, I'm actually a piece of shit. So I made up some volunteer work and it actually did work.
Where did you "volunteer"?
To be honest, where didn't I volunteer? I spent some time at the RSPCA but have volunteered for two years at the local old folks home. Everyone loves old people so I figured who wouldn't give their house to someone who volunteered with them?
I did feel really bad for lying. Like really really bad. But that only lasted for like a second because I found out I got the place and then my guilt turned into excitement. To be fair, the way the market is right now like what's the alternative? Tell the truth but end up living on the streets? Maybe I will go volunteer or something now though, I definitely liked the sound of my new CV me better than me in real life.
* Names have been changed to protect future flat-hunting prospects
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