Compliance in the time of Covid19.
As the year progesses we hoped to get some normaility back in our lives. Unfortunately this hasn't been the case, as we see a spike of COVID cases throughout Australia. This time, certain States, such as Victoria have seen a huge spike, as a second wave of cases emerged and have acted accordinly.
As each state is different, each response is different which makes managing properties throughout Australia a challenge. A challenge we are prepared for.
See below for the latest COVID updates and the impact on the real estate industry.
In NSW over the last month, nothing much has changed in regards to COVID restrictions on real estate. Open homes continue to be allowed, as long as physical distancing of 1.5m and good hygiene is practiced and the number of people allowed into the property is monitored and managed accordingly.
The 60 day stop on evictions that was introduced earlier this year has now ended. In NSW if the tenant falls behind in rent, the lease can be terminated as long as the following criteria are met:
- the landlord has first participated in good faith in a rent negotiation process run by Fair Trading and it's fair and reasonable in the circumstances for a tenancy to be terminated.
In other news, the upper house has passed an amendment to allow pets into Strata buildings and that a by-law will have no force or effect to the extent it unreasonably prohibits having an animal in a strata complex. The amendment now needs to be passed in the lower house before it becomes law. This law will be welcome during lock down as pets are a great companion.
Victoria has seen a huge spike in the number of COVID cases over the last few weeks. As a result, the memorandum of evictions has been extended to 28th March, 2021 from 26th September, 2020. What this means is that a tenant in financial hardship due to COVID cannot be evicted nor can their rent be increased.
When assessing their circumstances, we ask all tenants for proof of their reduced income as a result of COVID. There is help though for tenants, a rent relief grant is still available from the government as long as the tenant can prove hardship and have also negotiated reduced rent from their landlord. There is also help for landlords in the form of land tax relief.
Under the increased lockdown restrictions all property inspection of any kind are banned including for potential purchases and rentals, including routine inspections and appraisals. If a lease is coming to an end during this time, exit inspections are allowed, but only if no one is at the property. If possible, vacant properties should not be re-let, a new tenancy should only commence during this period if the tenant is unsafe or in a vulnerable situation. These rules will be assessed again later this month.
There have not been any new updates to restriction in WA following from the lifting of restrictions on 26th June as the government continues with their plan to re-open the State in a phased approach. The restrictions for the number of people at an open home have been lifted, but people need maintain the one-person-per-2sqm rule. The memorandum of evictions continues until 29th September in WA.
The restrictions for the number of people allowed at an open home have been lifted and there are no reported cases of COVID in NT (as per the government site coronavirus.nt.gov.au/current-status).
In QLD the rules for social distancing have been tightened from 2nd September. QLD had previously relaxed rules to allow gatherings up to 50 people. Now gatherings of up to 10 people in restricted areas are allowed as long as strict social distancing is followed. In addition, if you leave your principal place of residence, you need to practice strict social distancing. If physical distancing is not followed, there are financial penalties for individuals and corporations.
In the ACT, open homes are allowed with a maximum of 10 people and an expectation that health measures such as hand sanitizer and physical distancing of 1.5m are followed.
Open homes are allowed in South Australia as long as there is a limit of 1 person per 2 sqm and a maximum of 10 people for gatherings in private homes.
In Tasmania the emergency period for residential tenancies has been extended to 1st December 2020 from 30th September 2020. What this means is that a notice to vacate given to a tenant, has no effect until 1st December except under certain circumstances including; the tenant agreeing to vacate, the court terminates the lease or the tenant is using the property for an unlawful purpose.
There is no change to the number of people allowed at gatherings, where up to 10 people for indoor and outdoor gatherings are allowed including auctions and open homes. All attendee names and contact details must be recorded so they can be contacted if someone present turns out to have had the COVID. In addition, rental relief grants are still available for tenants and a new landlord support fund has been established for landlords suffering from financial hardship as a result of COVID.
To see more in relation to these funds, visit communities.tas.gov.au/housing/rental-services