Ask Abe – Tenancy

Hi Abe,

I moved into a place in Stanmore at the beginning of February. I paid my bond and 4 weeks rent in advance. Now that I’ve lived there a while I really hate it and want to move out. The house itself is dark and gloomy and I don’t really like my neighbourhood. I told my landlord but she said I had to stay until the end of my contract. This is a real problem because I’ve already signed a lease for another room in a different house. Please help me.

Doubled Up

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Dear Doubled Up,

There are 2 types of renters: tenants and borders/lodgers. Tenants are covered by the Residential Tenancy Act (2010). It sets down rules for both you and your landlord. In the situation you have described you want to “break your lease early”. As a tenant you would have to pay a penalty of between 4 and 6 weeks rent in addition to rent up on till the day you move out. If you have maintained your room in good order you should receive a refund of your bond.

You may be able to convince your landlord to let you find someone else to take over your lease in exchange for no or a reduced penalty. They are under no obligation to do this.

If you are a border/lodger you are covered by the contract that you signed. There is usually some clause in there about how to break the contract early. Again, you may be able to convince your landlord to allow you to find someone to take over your contract. If this doesn’t work you might like to speak to the SRC Lawyer about breaking your contract with as little financial penalty as possible.

Abe

Abe is the SRC’s welfare dog. This column offers students the opportunity to ask questions on anything. This can be as personal as a question on a Centrelink payment or as general as a question on the state of the world. Send your questions to help@src.usyd.edu.au. Abe gathers his answers from experts in a number of areas. Coupled with his own expertise on dealing with people, living on a low income and being a dog, Abe’s answers can provide  you excellent insight.

Tips for living on little money

Many students are forced to live on very little money while they are studying. Here are some ideas that might help you get by.

LOANS, BURSARIES & SCHOLARSHIPS

University Financial Assistance Office: 9351 2416
Loans are interest free and bursaries do not need to be repaid. Talk to them about your situation and they’ll guide you to the most suitable option.

Scholarships Office (University & Government scholarships) 8627 8450
There is range of different ways to qualify for a scholarship. Talk to the University about which ones you’re eligible for and how to apply. There are also some competitions you could enter that have cash prizes.

SRC Emergency loans up to $50 are good to fill that gap the day before payday or if you forget your wallet. 9660 5222

MANAGING MONEY

Many students are forced to live on very little money while they are studying. Here are some ideas that might help you get by.

When you don’t have enough money to make little mistakes it is a good idea to have a budget plan. Write down how you are going to spend money each week, including putting some aside for unforeseen expenses if you can. Look for “leaks” that can help you to save a bit more. Look at: www.moneyminded.com.au
www.wesleymission.org.au/centres/creditline “budget planner”.

DEALING WITH DEBTS

The SRC Legal Service will work with you to clear your debts. This service is free to undergraduate students.
If you have a problem with gambling, free, confidential help is available at the University. Call 9351 6346 for more information.

HAPPY HOUSING

Cheap quality accommodation is hard to get. Most of the cheap options go very quickly, so you’ll have to be patient and flexible. If you are in urgent need of housing ask an SRC Caseworker about emergency accommodation.
If you are about to move into a home or if you are behind in rent and are on the lease you might be eligible for Rentstart through Housing Pathways (Housing NSW).

PHONE

Pre-paid accounts allow you to give yourself a fixed budget for phonecalls. Encourage your friends to call you or text to make a skype date. Viber and Whatsapp also allow you to make free texts or calls. However, be aware that you are using your internet for this.

FREE FOOD, CHEAP FOOD

There is no reason to be hungry if you live in Sydney. There are many places around Sydney that offer free meals and a few that may do food parcel. http://www.newtowncentre.org/_pdfs/meals.pdf

HEALTH

Bulk billing (or direct billing) doctors means that you will not be charged for the appointment. This is covered on Medicare and Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). eg University Health Service in Wentworth and Holme buildings.

Safer sex is important. You can pick up free condoms from the SRC office, Level 1 Wentworth Building.

Clean needles and injecting packs are available from the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS). Call their 24 hour confidential telephone service on 9361 8000 or 1800 422 599. Some chemists do needle and syringe exchange. In Newtown this includes Chemist
on King, Ford’s Pharmacy and Rainbow Chemist. In Auburn there’s Alpha Pharmacy and Rite Aid Pharmacy. There’s also Camden Pharmacy and Adore Pharmacy Rozelle.

Dentists can be super expensive on a student budget. But your teeth are important. There are some limited services you may be able to access for free. Speak to SRC HELP caseworkers.

Australian citizens and permanent residents can apply for a Low Income Health Card Card if you earn $501 a week or less, or get a Centrelink student payment. This gives you a reduced price on prescription drugs, free ambulance cover etc.

help@src.usyd.edu.au | (02) 9660 5222

Abe gives tips for success at uni

Dear Abe,

I’ve attended all of the sessions and stalls available at O week.  I was wondering if there was anything else I needed to know to be able to do well at this degree.

Just a Little Bit


Dear Just a Little Bit,

I’ve seen lots of different types of people go through uni and I reckon there’s a bit of a recipe for success.

Attend all of your classes and do all of your readings.  This sounds like more work than just bluffing your way through tutorials, but you’ll actually pick things up much quicker and have a better understanding of the material.  Assessments and exams will also be easier to prepare for and you will score better marks.  Most importantly you are less likely to fail anything, meaning you won’t have to repeat a subject.

Check out the Learning Centre courses as soon as you can.  Some people say they have no time to do these extra courses, but actually putting in the time for them now, will save you heaps of time later.  Generally speaking people who get help from the learning centre will improve their marks by one grade.  That is, if you had got a pass for that assignment you’d probably get a credit with the Learning Centre’s help.  Check out their website too, they have great modules on referencing properly, time management and a bunch of other topics.

Deal with any problems you have during the semester WHEN THEY HAPPEN.  Talk to SRC HELP or someone in the Faculty to get whatever it is you need.
Most of all allow yourself to have fun.  This should be an awesome time of your life.

Abe

Abe is the SRC’s welfare dog.  This column offers students the opportunity to ask questions on anything.  This can be as personal as a question on a Centrelink payment or as general as a question on the state of the world.  Send your questions to help@src.usyd.edu.au.  Abe gathers his answers from experts in a number of areas.  Coupled with his own expertise on dealing with people, living on a low income and being a dog, Abe’s answers can provide you excellent insight.

Welcome to the Big House… (well, not in a prison kind of way)…

It doesn’t matter how big your school was, it was not as big as this place.  This place even has its own postcode, which makes it even bigger than the Rooty Hill RSL.  Even the satellite campuses are many times bigger than most high schools.  So whilst adjusting to this change can be exciting and challenging, it can also be down right horrifying.

The workload here is significantly higher than for most high schools.  There is less individual direction and increasingly larger class sizes.  The onus really is on you to stay focused and do lots of work to learn all of the required information.  Most students will tell you that you don’t have to do the readings before tutorials or read all the resources you list in your assignments.  What they won’t tell you is that this is an extremely stressful way of not doing very well at uni.  Being full time at uni is definitely more work than being a full time worker. We don’t mean to alarm you, we’re just telling it like it is. But don’t despair, there are ways to make it work for you.

Studies have shown that if you don’t make some sort of attachment to the uni by about week six you’ll find it very difficult to be successful in your degree. What do we mean by attachment? Your attachment may be that you’ve met some other people who like the same hobbies as you, so check out all of the different clubs and societies available through the Union.  If you get the chance, go through the O-Week stalls so that you can meet them face-to-face and join straight away.  If not, you can also find them online and go along to a meeting.

Your attachment may be your love for the subject material.  Take the time to complete at least the required readings so that the lectures make sense to you.  Attending classes is compulsory for a reason, so save the socialising for another time.  Most people say that doing the reading before attending the class (not to mention paying attention whilst you’re there) makes the exams a lot easier.

Your attachment may be as simple as meeting a new friend or potential new partner.  This is always exciting.  Remember to have (safe, consensual) fun, but don’t neglect the main reason you are here. You are now a University of Sydney student. Embrace it like you would a blossoming new romance.

Remember that most people feel just as nervous and out of place as you do – even the students that have come to USYD already equipped with friends from high school.  The best thing that you can do is to try to be yourself, be
open to meeting new people and having new experiences, and know that if you ever need to talk to someone, USYD has a free counseling service.
Another area of difference to high school is the increase to your own personal freedom.

The University prefers to treat you as an adult.  You are free to make your own decisions about alcohol and other drugs, and sexual activity.

If you have questions about anything to do with these feel free to contact the SRC.  We can always point you in the direction of reliable and non-judgemental information.

Living in Sydney is increasingly difficult for anyone on a limited budget.  Where you live needs to be affordable so you’re not spending more than 10 – 15 hours a week working (for a full time student) to be able to support yourself.  It needs to be stable, so you are not worrying about whether you’ll have somewhere to live next week, or whether your flatmates are going to pay their rent.  It needs to be appropriate.  Some students we have met were sleeping on a balcony in the middle of winter and not getting very much sleep…probably not the best idea they’ve ever had. Exhaustion and illness does not a good student make. Having trouble with accommodation? You guessed it; the SRC can help you out.

Always remember that you are not alone here.  There are lots of people willing to help you settle in.  The trick is to ask.

help@src.usyd.edu.au  |  (02) 9660 5222