April 16, 2020
Coronavirus - Landlord FAQ
At Jellis Craig, our priority is supporting our clients and the community throughout this challenging time.
In order to help you as a Landlord understand the current state of play and make informed decisions in relation to your properties under management, we have put together a series of frequently asked questions for your reference.
How can I contact my Property Manager or the Office?
The office number is still operating as normal and can direct your call, otherwise you can still contact your Property Manager at any time by calling their direct line or mobile number, or via email.
Does this situation change any of my rights as a Landlord?
Despite the changing landscape, your rights as a Landlord remain the same. Tenants and Landlords must continue to abide by the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. There are measures that the State and Federal Governments may put in place that may relate to the tenancy. We will update this page as often as possible when any new arrangements have been made. The following website will have the most up to date information about any tenancy changes during this time; CAV - Coronavirus and Tenants Rights
Will routine inspections be taking place?
Offices have currently postponed any face to face routine inspections that were due to take place. When social distancing measures have eased these routine inspections will be rebooked.
Some offices may still conduct routine inspections using an online process, whether via FaceTime or Zoom. Your Property Manager can outline this process should you have any queries.
What is the process for rental inspections to attract a new tenant?
Rental inspections may be conducted by way of either a private inspection or an Open for Inspection as long as attendee's adhere to be below guidelines;
- Attendees are required to register prior to the inspection
- Attendance is limited 1 person per 4 square metres or a maximum of 10 people in each property
- Healthy social distancing (at least 1.5m) must be adhered to while at the property
- Attendees must refrain from touching surfaces within the property and use hand sanitiser where possible
- Anyone who has tested positive to, or has symptoms associated with Coronavirus must not attend an inspection
Some inspections may be held online, in which your Property Manager may ask for access to the property to film a short walk through video which will assist in avoiding unnecessary visits to the property.
Should you wish for further information about how we can lease your property in the current climate please don’t hesitate to call your local Jellis Craig office.
What happens if maintenance needs to be undertaken at my property?
Should any maintenance be required, your Property Manager can organise for the relevant tradesperson to attend your investment property. There are currently no restrictions on tradespeople entering properties, except for the number of tradespeople allowed in the same space at any one time in line with social distancing guidelines. We ask that all our trades contacts abide by our Coronavirus hygiene protocols to ensure the safety of your tenant/s. We do caution that they may be a delay in getting trades to attend works, and in such instances urgent repairs will be given priority.
Can I be protected in the event my tenant defaults on payments?
In most instances, a valid landlord's insurance policy will provide you with cover if the tenant defaults on their rent. These claims require the tenancy to come to an end before you can make a claim, and insurers won’t pay rent whilst the tenancy is still continuing.
Any agreement that you reach with your tenant to reduce or defer rent won’t be claimable.
We suggest reviewing your insurer's website and PDS for more information. Our insurance partner, EBM RentCover, has a handy set of FAQs which might also prove useful
What happens if my tenant needs to vacate the property due to financial hardship?
If your tenant needs to vacate the property due to loss of employment or income your Property Manager will speak with you in the first instance to see if an agreement can be made to end the lease earlier than the stated end date on the fixed term lease.
What happens if my tenant cannot pay rent as a result of financial distress?
Whilst Tenants and Landlords still need to abide by the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (the Act), the Government is encouraging Landlords and Agents to be compassionate and show goodwill during this pandemic.
The Federal Government announced that there should be a suspension on rental evictions for people who are facing financial distress as a result of the Coronavirus. This is yet to be ratified by the State Government but is expected soon.
This provides a measure of security for those who have been adversely affected and are concerned about the implications of being able to keep residing in their rental home.
If your tenant is experiencing financial hardship as a result of the Coronavirus, we have advised that they need to contact us as soon as possible. In the first instance they are guided to explore the available options in the various Government assistance packages. If these options are not enough, they may complete a Financial Hardship Application form, which provides specific details about their situation and the request to either reduce, or defer their rental payments.
The decision to agree with the request to reduce or defer rental payments lies with yourself as the Landlord, and should only be made once you have considered your own situation.
What is the Rental Relief Package and how does it work?
The Victorian Government has approved a rent relief package that provides funding for tenants who are under financial duress due to Coronavirus impacting their financial situation.
This is a one-off grant specifically for tenants to ensure that they can maintain safe, secure and stable accommodation and is paid directly to the tenant’s agent, lessor or the landlord to contribute to the tenant’s rental payments during this time of financial hardship. This grant will be administered to eligible tenants who have negotiated a rental reduction with their landlord or real estate agent and have lodged that agreement with CAV.
Where can I find more information?
As the information being provided by the Victorian Government is updated regularly, further information can be found below:
Should you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact Jellis Craig via email or phone.
Any advice contained in this article is of a general nature only and does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. Therefore, before making any decision, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice with regard to those matters. Information in this article is correct as of the date of publication and is subject to change.