SRC Help: Week 7 – Keep your receipts and records

Wouldn’t it be great if we could trust that everyone did the right thing by us. Sadly we can’t. That’s where receipts and contracts come in.

When you pay a deposit, or rent, or any other bill, get a receipt. A printed receipt. On paper. Perferably in English. Take a photo of it, and email it to yourself, just in case you need it in the future. Having a record of the electronic bank transfer will not necessarily substitute for a receipt. Where possible it is best to have both.

A receipt is the only way that you can prove that you have actually paid. This may become useful in the future if someone, like your landlord, or housemates were to insist that you did not pay that money, or that you paid less.

If you live in a home where the landlord or (their agent) does not live, you are considered a tenant and should have a lease. If you live with your landlord (or their agent) you are a boarder or lodger, and should have a contract. This should show what the address is, how much you are meant to pay, when you are meant to move in, when you are meant to move out, and sometimes what happens if you move out earlier. It is important to keep a copy of your lease or contract, so that you can prove if there is a breach of the lease or contract. Again, you could scan it and email yourself a copy. This in turn may help you to claim back any money you are owed.

The SRC has had many cases where students have paid bond for their home, then moved out, and had their landlord refuse to refund the bond, saying that they didn’t pay any. Similarly we have seen landlords claim that students were behind in rent. We have even seen landlords agree that a student could move out of the home early and charged them extra money for this. In all of these cases written records would have helped the student at the tribunal.

The SRC has caseworkers able to help with tenancy and accommodation issues like this. Make an appointment by calling 9660 5222.

SRC Help: Fake Medical Certificates – Don’t Risk it!

It’s not difficult to find fake medical certificates on the internet or Wechat. It is not difficult to make yourself a fake medical certificate. However the SRC recommends that you do not use them EVER. In creating, buying and/or submitting a false medical certificate you are committing FRAUD. This isn’t just against University rules, it’s also against the law, and carries the risk of a maximum prison sentence of ten years, if prosecuted by the police. It is unlikely that the police would prosecute you, but bear in mind that it is possible. The University also treats this as Academic Misconduct and carries a very likely outcome of a suspension from your studies for at least one semester.

The University is very aware that there are false medical certificates out there and routinely checks Special Consideration applications and the attached medical certificates. The chances of them finding any fake certificates are actually very high.
Some students have tried to get genuine medical certificates and have been tricked into paying for false ones. This is unlikely to be a good defense for you with the University. Instead of using online services, see your regular doctor, or if they are not available try the University’s Health Service (Level 3, Wentworth Building), or go to your local medical centre. If you are too sick to leave your home get an after hours doctor to come to your house. Google will give you a list of these services available in your area.

If you are stressed or struggling to the point that you even consider obtaining a false medical certificate, your best option is to talk to someone about what’s going on. SRC Caseworkers can give you advice without any judgment. The University has a free Counselling Service, or you could talk to your doctor. There might be a way to manage your study load without risking far more serious consequences in the long term.

Ask Abe: Discontinue Not Fail (DC)

Dear Abe,

I recently had some family stuff happen and now I think I might fail a couple of subjects if I don’t do something about it. Is there a way that I can have them wiped off my record, and just pick them up next semester?

Thanks
Avoiding a Fail
——
Dear Avoiding a Fail,

The deadline for applying for a Discontinuing without Fail (DC) grade is the Friday of week 7, and in this semester that is 27th April. You can go do this through Sydney Student. There is no academic penalty for DC subjects; however, you are still liable for the HECS/fees. If there is a compelling reason that you need to drop the subject now, like unexpected illness or misadventure, you could apply for a remission of HECS/fees. You will need documentation to support your claim, and you will need very strong supporting documents. If you need help with this ask an SRC caseworker by emailing help@src.usyd.edu.au.

Abe

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.

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.