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How to find a flatmate and not breach the Human Rights Act

Finding a housemate is hard, let hunters know who your 'ideal flatmate' is.

23 February 2021

When writing a Flatmates Wanted ad on Trade Me, it is important that you’re honest so everyone is on the same page and you’re not wasting anyone's time. That way, you attract people who you think would be a good fit for your place.

To help with this, you can add details to the ‘ideal flatmate’ section of your ad.

Under the Human Rights Act you are allowed to be very specific about who you want to live with. However, we don't want our members to be dicks when writing their ads which is why we have recently updated our policy when it comes to Flatmates Wanted descriptions.

What’s changed?

We will not allow exclusionary references in Flatmates Wanted listings which are targeted at:

  • Racial ethnic minorities
  • Religion
  • LGBTQI+ identity
  • Disability, impairment or illness

We will edit or remove listings which we think break this rule.

Why are we only targeting these four groups?

Flatmates Wanted listings are tricky and we think some exclusions are acceptable when finding someone to live with.

For example, a group of females might only want to live with another female flatmate or a group might want to live with someone of a similar age.

Shouldn’t you be able to say a flat isn’t appropriate for someone with a disability, for example someone who needs a wheelchair?

You can make a statement about the nature of the accessibility, and let others make judgement for themselves.

Guidelines for writing a Flatmate Wanted ad

Below are some helpful tips on how to craft your Flatmate Wanted ad:

  • Use positive and inclusive statements rather than negative ones
  • Writing what you’re looking for is better than saying what you’re not looking for.
  • Say what you want, rather than relying on a stereotype or generalisation
  • Err on the side of caution - If in doubt, leave it out. Focus on positive and inclusive statements.

If you’re looking for a flat and come across an ad that goes against the standard you expect from the Trade Me community, you’re welcome to report the listing by clicking on the ‘Community Watch’ button at the bottom of the listing.

If you’re keen to know more about the Human Rights Act please see our Human Rights Act page or head over to the Human Rights Commission’s website.