Compliance corner with Simon Kinsey - COVID-19

What does COVID-19 mean for me?

Today we take a brief look at the financial implications and legislation around COVID-19 for Landlords and Tenants

We live in a country with 8 States and Territory’s that all have their own real estate legislation. It may as well be 8 different countries! So I’m here to help provide an overview on what’s happening around the country in these tough COVID-19 times.

Without dwelling on the current government, you’d think it would be easy to make a universal decision for simple things like schools and self-isolation. Add State based property legislation into the mix and it’s hard to stay on top of things!

Enough about politics, let’s get back to why you are tuning to Compliance Corner, you want to know what impact the crisis has on your property, regardless of where its located.

Let’s start with NSW, where Parliament passed legislation giving the NSW Government the power to ban evictions for six months. Although this has not yet been enforced, it shows how serious government is and the reality of the unprecedented times we are all going through.

With the announcement last night that there is a moratorium on evictions, residential landlords are likely worried about what their rights are.

It's important to remember at this time, the eviction ruling is a "moratorium", which means rent will still need to be paid by the tenant, but at some point in the future.

A number of the tenants unions around the country, such as the Tenant’ Union of Tasmania, are lobbying government to suspend eviction proceedings and provide financial assistance to renters. While this is happening the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) is lobbying government for a way to ensure rent is still paid so landlords still receive rental income and real estate agents can still provide services including the ability to pay for necessary repairs and maintenance to properties and ongoing property management.

There are also nationwide measures effecting the industry as a whole. Last week the Prime Minister announced a nationwide ban of auctions and open-for-inspections in a bid to stop the spread of Coronavirus. At yabonza, we have adapted to this change through offering private inspections and also video walk throughs (video walk throughs will be launched this week). With the virus still spreading, allowing any type of open may only be a short term solution. We may soon be in a total lock down, with no possibility to allow viewers into properties. We don’t know yet what the level 3 lockdowns will mean, but we do know that we will need to adapt to meet the changes.

The beauty of the yabonza business model is that our licensed agents around the country all work for themselves and will be available throughout this crisis, as long as the government allows them to be through social distancing measures. We are and will be ready to get through this crisis.

In Victoria, the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) has offered advice to landlords and tenants in financial crisis. The advice is for tenants to apply to The Victorian Tribunal (VCAT) for hardship if they have tried to negotiate rent with their landlord, but have failed. It is for this reason that landlords and tenants need to work together to get through these times. Until a clear ruling is made by the banks and governments in regards to freezing rent, real estate agents, such as yabonza will continue to follow the arrears process, but at the same time will speak to landlords to see what options are available for their tenants. We appreciate that until banks freeze mortgages Landlords still have their own financial responsibilities, so it is a difficult decision to make and often landlords are unable to offer any assistance at this time.

Even if residential disputes do progress to Tribunal, with the spread of COVID-19, tribunals are operating via phone and they are only hearing urgent matters, which means that non-urgent residential tenancy matters are postponed. We have seen this happening already where a recent hearing we had scheduled in NSW for the termination of a tenancy due to non-payment of rent, was postponed indefinitely. Please note that if yabonza is still required to lodge a case with any of the Tribunals, we will, but you need to be mindful that timing may be delayed due to delays because of COVID-19.

The yabonza Asset Manager is available during these confusing times, there are options available if you are facing financial hardship and these are available for tenants and landlords. These include, access to your super, the possibility to freeze your mortgage payments with your bank and also the possibility to freeze your utility bills such as water and electricity. Contact your bank in regards to your loan repayments, go to My Gov in regards to your Super and you utility providers for options for your utility bills.

The advice coming out of all States and Territories is to try and negotiate a solution with your tenants if they are facing hardship. Lets get through this together with understanding both ways. When we get out the other side of this, your tenant/landlord relationship will be stronger which will be a positive thing for your Asset Value and your property over time.

End of the day, we all need to work together to get through this, and we will get through this. Yabonza are here to help and will do all we can. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions or concerns you have regarding your rental property. Just be mindful though, we will do all we can, but there are things that are out of our control as these are unpresented times.

 


Simon Kinsey 
Head of Compliance
Yabonza Smart Property Management
simon@yabonza.com

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