It would be great if we could trust everyone we met, or even just the people who seemed trustworthy, but 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. Preferably in English. Take a photo of it, and email it to yourself, just in case you need it in the future. Email serves the dual purpose of filing and time stamping. I know that phones have a time stamp for photos, but an email is preferred by most tribunal members, in case you need to ask them for your money back. Having a record of the electronic bank transfer will not necessarily substitute for a receipt.
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.

Other types of renters are probably boarders/lodgers, and should have a contract. This should show what the address is, the cost, your move in date, your move out date, and hopefully what penalties you need to pay if you move out earlier. It is very 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 email yourself a copy.

As a renter, you are responsible for the care of your home. Just before you move in, take photos of anything that is damaged, not working, or dirty. When you move out, take photos of every floor, window, wall, oven, bathroom, etc, to show that you have left them in clean, good working order. Email those photos to yourself, so you can prove that you were not the one that damaged or dirtied that part of your home, and that you left the place clean and undamaged. This will make it very difficult for the landlord to blame you for any repairs or cleaning bills, that they can take out of your bond.

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.

For more details on things you should know about tenancy and accommodation, See:
1. Accommodation Guide
2. Accommodation Checklist

We also have professional caseworkers who can help.
Make an appointment by calling 9660 5222, or if you prefer, email your questions to help@src.usyd.edu.au.