Moving Out: How to End a Rental Agreement

Make sure you are informed about how to end a rental agreement.

Are you going to stay for the length of your agreement?

Refer to your original contract or lease. It should state an end date. If it is a contract you should be able to give notice to your landlord equivalent to the frequency that you pay rent that you are moving out on the end date. Sometimes contracts will have a clause about the fee for ending the agreement early. If it is a lease this amount of notice is either 14 days (fixed term agreement) or 21 days (continuing agreement). Notice should be in writing. This does not include text messages and may not include email. It is best to send this by letter. Allow 4 days extra for mail to arrive.

What if you want to leave early?

This will usually cost you lots of money. If you have a lease agreement you will usually have to pay four or six weeks worth of rent, depending on what percentage of the agreement you have already completed. Sometimes you can find someone to take your place in the agreement to avoid paying all of this money. The replacement person has to be a “reasonable” replacement. For example, they need to have a similar capacity to meet rental payments and a good rental history.

If you’re under a contract you may need to pay the equivalent of the rent up to the end of the contract. Sometimes you can find someone to take your place in the contract or start a new contract, but that is completely up to the landlord.

When am I considered to have left?

You have only completely left your accommodation when the landlord (not another tenant) has received all copies of all of your keys and other door locking devices (like swipe cards). You also have to provide “vacant possession” which means all of your belongings have been moved out.

What if I want to move out and my housemates want to stay?

You will need to find a replacement for yourself. If you are on the lease or contract have that changed before you go. If you are on the lease, regardless of whether you live there, you are legally and financially liable for the condition of the premises. Make sure you keep a copy of the new lease or contract to show that you are no longer on there.

How do I get my bond or deposit back?

After you have moved out take photos to show the condition of the accommodation. This is to avoid disputes with the landlord’s assessment of the condition of your accommodation after you moved out. The cost of any repairs or cleaning will come out of the bond or deposit. The rest of your bond (leased property) should be returned in the form of a cheque or electronic transfer from the Department of Fair Trading. Deposits placed on contracted properties are less regulated. Make sure you have your receipt to prove that you did pay it in the first place. If there is any dispute about getting back this money talk to an SRC Caseworker.

ASK ABE: Earning while on Youth Allowance – Student Income Bank

Dear Abe,

I am on a Youth Allowance payment and I also work a casual job with varying hours. Sometimes I receive the full payment just under $500, but other times I get much less than that. I heard that there is some sort of banking system that affects the amount of money I get, but I am very confused by all of this. Could you please explain why my payments vary?

Nursing Student
…………..

Dear Nursing Student,

The banking system you are talking about is Centrelink’s way of keeping track of the extra money you are earning. It is called the Student Income Bank. Each fortnight you are allowed to earn $427 without any reduction in your Youth Allowance. If you earn less than $427, the left over carries over to the following fortnight. For example, if you only earned $147 in the first fortnight, you will be allowed to earn $727 ($427 + $300) in the second fortnight. This process keeps going until you’ve accumulated a maximum of $10,600. Your Youth Allowance payment is reduced when you have earned more than your Student Income Bank. That is, by 50 cents in the dollar for amounts between $427 and $512, then by 60 cents in the dollar for income over $512. If you are unsure about whether you have been paid the correct amount, gather all your paperwork and talk to an SRC Caseworker about it.

Abe

They’re Picking on Me! Harrassment and Discrimination on Campus

The University is bound by state and federal laws, to protect you against harassment and discrimination. But what should you do
if you feel you are being harassed or discriminated against?

What is Unlawful Harassment?

The University’s Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Policy and Resolution Procedure defines “Unlawful harassment” as “any type of behaviour that:
the other person does not want; and
offends, insults, humiliates or intimidates them; and is either sexual, or targets them because of their race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, transgender, sexual preference or orientation (including homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality and heterosexuality), disability, age, carers’ responsibility, political belief, lack of a political belief, lack of a particular political belief (including trade union activity or lack of it, and student association activity or lack of it), religious belief, lack of a religious belief, and/or lack of a particular religious belief; and
that, in the circumstances, a reasonable person should have expected would offend, insult, humiliate, or intimidate.”

It then goes on to define Unlawful Discrimination. “Unlawful discrimination is any practice that makes an unlawful distinction between individuals or groups, so as to disadvantage some people and advantage others.”

What can you do if you feel you are being harassed or discriminated against?

Contact an SRCHelp caseworker. They can gather your information and act as an advocate for you to place a complaint with the Student Affairs Unit.

What if the bad treatment you receive is not technically harassment or discrimination?

The definition of harassment and discrimination is very specific. If you are being treated badly in another sense perhaps it is more like bullying or just unprofessional behaviour. This does not mean that it doesn’t count. It just means that your complaint would be framed in different terms to suit a different policy. SRC Caseworkers are still a good point of contact.

Who does this protect from?

Students are protected from other students, teachers (permanent, casual and contract), placement supervisors, and other contractors on campus.

Ask Abe – International Student Super & Tax Returns

Hello Abe,

My friend told me that I can get back the superannuation payments that my boss made while I was working here. I am going home to my country in December. What do I need to do?

Overseas Money

—————–
Hello Overseas Money,

The news on this is great for international students. If you worked here your boss could have paid money into a Superannuation fund for you. This is meant to be savings for your retirement, however, since it is unlikely that you will be here then, you can usually have it now. Of course there are conditions like your visa has expired or been cancelled and you have to be out of the country to apply. You’ll need all of the details of your Superannuation fund so keep copies of the statements that they send you. Go online to apply – www.ato.gov.au/content/downloads. Normally you will get your money about a month later.

Remember also, that you can fill out a tax refund from any wages you earned. Do this before you leave Australia. Again ask the Australian Tax Office for the forms you need.

Abe

So you can’t be scammed? Think again.

A scam is a trick to take your money directly or indirectly by getting your personal details. There are new, imaginative scams being hatched everyday. They even target low income earners like students and come in many forms including mail, e-mail, telephone and door-to-door.

Fake websites can easily be set up to look like the real thing. Giving your personal details to anyone should be handled with a large degree of caution. Even leaving your phone number to be called back by a sales rep can end in harassment or worse.  Ask yourself why they can’t give you their direct number for you to call them. How many websites have you supplied with your name, address and date of birth in order to win a competition?

Some of the more recent scams have included lotteries, sweepstakes and competitions. Some are obviously fake, like the Nigerian millionaire dying scam, but some are very subtle, like the competition to win a new mobile phone or an iPad. Some scams involve government departments like the tax department asking you to confirm your tax file number so that you can claim your lost superannuation. Some involve people pretending to be from a large computer company offering to help you rid your computer of viruses.

Banks have very strict rules about how they identify you to speak to you. However, they do not seem to be so strict about contacting you and asking for your details. Ask who they are and call them back on the number you find yourself. Do not give any details, no matter how incidental, until you are sure of who they are.

Mobile phone ring tone offers are another potential scam. Once you sign in or subscribe, you may not be able to sign out. This will lead to huge phone bills.

Health and medical scams may offer products or services that will cure your health problems or offer a simple treatment. Often these cures and treatments do not work. The diet industry is littered with scammers.

Follow these golden rules to avoid being scammed:

  • Don’t respond to offers, deals or requests for your personal details. Stop. Take time to independently check the request or offer.
  • Never send money or give credit card, account or other personal details to anyone who makes unsolicited offers or requests for your information. Get a receipt for any money you do spend.
  • Don’t rely on the glowing testimonials they provide: find solid evidence from independent sources (not those provided with the offer).
  • Never respond to out of the blue requests for your personal details.
  • Always type in the address of the website of a bank, business or authority you are interested in to ensure you are logging into the genuine website.
  • Don’t open unsolicited emails.
  • Never click on a link provided in an unsolicited email as it will probably lead to a fake website designed to trick you into providing personal details.
  • Never use phone numbers provided with unsolicited requests or offers as it probably connects you to fakes who will try to trap you with lies.
  • Don’t reply to unsolicited text messages from numbers you don’t recognise.
  • Always look up phone numbers in an independent directory when you wish to check if a request or offer is genuine.
  • Don’t dial a 0055 or 1900 number unless you are sure you know how much you will be charged.
  • If you are scammed contact the SRC Legal Service or the NSW Fair Trading. You can also lodge a complaint online.

For more information, visit www.scamwatch.com.au

ASK ABE: Centrelink payments cut off

Dear Abe,

I hope you can help me with a problem I have with Centrelink. I am in my third year of my health science course and I am on a Youth Allowance payment. Even though I didn’t receive anything previously, they say that the one year I did at another uni doing a similar course counts towards the amount of time I’m allowed to study and my payments will run out in the middle of the year. Is this true? And if so, what can I do?

Healthy Now

——-

Dear Healthy Now,

The basic formula for the “satisfactory progress” (or maximum allowable time for completion for Austudy) of your course is the normal length of your course plus the length of one subject. For example, for a Bachelor of Arts course that would be 3 years plus 1 semester. If you had completed the previous course, you would be allowed the full 3 years plus 1 semester. If you withdrew from the course, because of “special circumstances beyond (your) control”, you would also be allowed the full 3 years plus 1 semester. However, if you did not complete the previous course, and you did not have special circumstances causing you to withdraw, the amount of time allowed would include the time spent at the other course.

So to answer your question, if you had special circumstances (with documentation) you would be able to study for 7 semesters in this degree and be payable. If you did not have special circumstances, you would be eligible for 7 semesters minus 2 semesters (from previous study).

If you were on an Austudy payment this answer would be completely different!
In terms of alternative payments for the period not covered by Youth Allowance you should talk to an SRC Caseworker to see if there is another payment available.

Abe.

The Mythical Rainbow Family

by Moo Baulch

Rarely does a week go by without some level of debate raging in the Australian media on queer themes as diverse as whether girls should be allowed to marry girls, homophobes should be given airtime and if Penny Wong’s Kitchen Cabinet appearance helped or hindered the cause.

Regardless of where you sit on the gay marriage/civil partnership spectrum and whether you think “It Gets Better” speaks to lesbians in Lakemba or not, it looks as if we’re closer than ever to achieving complete equal same-sex rights in Australia. So, as the queer ‘lifestyle’ becomes more mainstream, and Mardi Gras drops the “gay and lesbian”, it’s time to start having some honest conversations about the way that we treat each other within the mythical rainbow family.

It’s not easy to begin talking about the not-so-fabulous things that occur in our communities and relationships—domestic violence (DV) for example. How do we contextualise it in a queer framework? Let’s begin with an important statement. Most queer relationships are loving and respectful. Some are about power and control. Just as some men abuse women, so some of us also abuse one another. Research suggests that DV in same-sex relationships occurs at rates comparable to the wider population. The effects on the victim are similar—isolation, fear, intimidation and the cycles of explosion, remorse, pursuit and honeymoon before the violence recommences.

There are precious few prominent models of healthy LGBTIQ relationships. Those new to the queer world may therefore find it difficult to picture what a healthy relationship looks or feels like. Sometimes it can be hard to decide whether what’s being experienced is abuse or just the usual conflict that occurs periodically in most relationships.
DV can be packaged in a number of different ways—it can be financial, emotional, psychological, physical, social, sexual or cultural. It may involve overt threats of violence or feature a subtle controlling of how someone might make decisions about their daily life. An absence of physical violence doesn’t mean that a relationship is not abusive. Ultimately DV is the exercise of power by one partner over another with the intent to control.

But there are some fundamental differences in the dynamics of queer DV. Abusers may manipulate their victim into believing that this is the way all queer relationships are, that the rules are different, that no-one else will want them or support services will not believe them if they ask for help. Abusers may threaten to ‘out’ their partner or disclose their HIV status. They may also threaten to withhold medications or control finances to limit a partner’s movements. They may use regular put downs in public or private which target a person’s expression of gender, appearance or sexuality. They may isolate their partner from their friends or family or they could threaten to harm pets. They may also threaten self harm or suicide or blame their partner for their own anger, health, condition or behaviour.

Discussing the existence of bullying, sexual racism, misogyny, DV and the prejudice in our own communities is challenging, especially when we live in a society or culture that sometimes may seem to only just accept us. But it’s the measure of a maturing LGBTIQ community if we are able to create space and nurture a culture of diversity that fosters open, honest dialogues on these sticky subjects. We have a responsibility as friends, ethical bystanders and as part of the alphabet-soup family to speak up and ask if someone is ok or let them know we are there. It’s not an easy thing to do but it could help someone who really needs it.

There are a number of LGBTIQ-friendly places to get help if you’re in an abusive relationship. If have experienced DV or want to support a friend, visit http://www.anothercloset.com.au/
In an emergency call the Police 000

The Safe Relationships Project provides statewide LGBTIQ domestic violence legal support. Ph: 02 9332 1966/1800 244 481 http://www.iclc.org.au/srp/
ACON’s Anti-Violence Project supports LGBTI people who have experienced DV. Ph: 9206 2116 or 1800 063 060 http://www.acon.org.au/anti-violence/
The Transgender Anti-Violence Project supports gender diverse people in NSW who have experienced violence. Ph: 9569 2366 or 1800 069 115 http://tavp.org.au/
DV Line is free, confidential and staffed 24/7. Ph: 1800 65 64 63

Moo Baulch was the LGBTI Domestic and Family Violence Project Officer at ACON’s Anti-Violence Project.

ASK ABE: Discontinue NOT Fail

Hi Abe,

I had an absolutely shocking time last semester and failed every subject I attempted.  I have previously had an excellent record, but had a lot of family problems last semester.  Is there any way that I can have last semester wiped off my record so my bad marks don’t spoil my record?

DS-

——————————————-
Dear DS,

If you had a serious illness or misadventure (your family problems may be described as this) that was out of your control, became worse after the deadline for DC (end of week 7) and seriously affected your ability to study, you can apply to have those fails or absent fails changed to DC (Discontinue Not Fail) grades. You will need to be able to explain how your illness or misadventure affected your study. Naturally you will need documentation from a doctor or counsellor, a community leader or someone else who knows about the issues your family have been dealing with. Remember that this is not just a method to “clean up” your transcript, but rather for students who have not had a genuine opportunity to demonstrate their competency in the subject.

You may also consider talking to an SRC caseworker about having your HECS/fees refunded. The deadline for applying for a fee refund if you are a local students is 12 months, but it’s so easy to forget that you’d be better off dealing with that straight away too. Fee refunds for international students have only recently been changed by law. Talk to SRC HELP for more information.

Abe.

As a University of Sydney student you have many assessment rights. Policies entitle all students to full information about course goals and requirements and this information must be given to you before the end of the first week of a course. Information you are entitled to includes:

  • assessment criteria
  • attendance and class requirements
  • weighting – breakdown and calculation of assessment marks
  • explanation of policies regarding ‘legitimate co-operation, plagiarism and cheating’, special consideration and academic appeals procedures
  • early and clear statement of sanctions and penalties that may bring your mark down, and fair application of these penalties
  • balanced and relevant assessment tasks
  • fair and consistent assessment with appropriate workloads and deadlines
  • written consultation before the halfway point of the unit if assessment requirements need to change
  • changes must not disadvantage students
  • adequate arrangements to cater for disabilities and other requirements
  • access to staff out of class time at reasonable hours
  • fair and relevant marking procedures
  • anonymous posting of results (or arguably de-identified at least)
  • timely return of assessments
  • helpful feedback
  • access to exam scripts up to six months after the result
  • enough time for remedial learning when there is reassessment

Appeals – University Procedures

If you believe a mark or University decision is wrong and you want to appeal you must lodge an appeal within 15 working days.

The first step is to talk to the person who made the decision – often your lecturer or subject co-ordinator. See if you can go through the assessment and discuss your performance with them. Make sure you know how the mark was worked out – including any scaling or marks deducted or changed for reasons not directly related to that particular assessment. This may mean attending an exam review session or making an appointment with your lecturer. Your questions and concerns may be resolved at this stage, helping you understand how you can improve in the future. Alternatively, you may feel the matter is still unresolved and wish to continue with your appeal.

  1. Make your appeal in writing and make sure it is easy for other people to understand
  2. Listen to or read staff comments and reasons for a decision closely. Keep these in mind when you write your appeal letter.
  3. Base an appeal on a process matter rather than an academic judgement.
  4. Know your desired outcome
  5. Familiarise yourself with the relevant policies
  6. Know who you are appealing to: Lecturer/Unit of study Coordinator; someone higher in the appeal chain within the Faculty; and then the University Student Appeals Body (Academic decisions only, and only where there has been a breach of process); You must be given reasons for each person’s decision.
  7. If you cannot resolve appeals internally, you may be able to approach external bodies eg. NSW Ombudsman, the Anti-Discrimination Board etc.
  8. Administrative decisions made outside of the Faculty have appeals to different people. Speak to the SRC for advice.

Your Appeal Rights

According to University policy, appeals should be dealt with:

  • in a timely manner
  • with confidence
  • impartially and not disadvantage you in the future
  • procedural fairness
  • free access to all documents concerning your appeal

For help drafting your appeal talk to an SRC caseworker.

ASK ABE: Youth Allowance and Casual Work

Dear Abe,

I am on a Youth Allowance payment and I also work a casual job with varying hours. Sometimes I receive the full payment just under $500, but other times I get much less than that.
I heard that there is some sort of banking system that affects the amount of money I get, but I am very confused by all of this. Could you please explain why my payments vary?

Nursing Student

——–
Dear Nursing Student,

The banking system you are talking about is Centrelink’s way of keeping track of the extra money you are earning. It is called the Student Income Bank. Each fortnight you are allowed to earn $415 without any reduction in your Youth Allowance. If you earn less than $415, the left over carries over to the following fortnight. For example, if you only earned $115 in the first fortnight, you will be allowed to earn $715 ($415 + $300) in the second fortnight. This process keeps going until you’ve accumulated a maximum of $10,100. Your Youth Allowance payment is reduced when you have earned more than your Student Income Bank. That is, by 50 cents in the dollar for amounts between $415 and $496, then by 60 cents in the dollar for income over $496. If you are unsure about whether you have been paid the correct amount, gather all your paperwork and talk to an SRC Caseworker about it.

Abe