Covid-19 Updates

At Solutions Property Management, the safety of our staff, customers and contractors is of paramount importance in the drafting of our COVID-19 Protocol.

We understand that many tenants have lost their income and will struggle to pay their rent – and the impact that this will have on property owners who rely on rental income to meet their financial responsibilities.

We have received many questions from concerned clients and tenants – and although many things are out of our control, one thing we can do is keep the lines of communication open.

So with this in mind, we hope this page will provide useful information and assurance that we are doing everything possible to keep things running. We will update this page as information comes to hand, in the form of posts and links.

You can also keep updated by following us on Facebook.

Because life must go on, and we will work together to get through this.

 

***If you are one of our tenants and experiencing difficulties paying your rent due to COVID-19, CLICK HERE. ***

WHO

World Health Organisation – www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1

AMA – Australian Medical Association

Latest information and updates from the Australian Medical Association

Health.gov.au

Coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert – The World Health Organization has announced that COVID-19 is a pandemic. Find out how we are monitoring and responding to the outbreak, how you can help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Australia, and what to do if you have symptoms. We also report the latest official medical advice and case numbers.

Services Australia

Affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)? Information and services to help you if you’re affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) or looking for more details.

On Friday 24th April 2020, the new COVID-19 Tenancy Laws were launched.

For all the details, view the RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES PRACTICE GUIDE.

The Queensland Government has also created a website THE HUB to provide information for owners, tenants and agents.

You can also visit the RTA (Residential Tenancies Authority) for the latest information.

Lifeline

Through Covid-19 Lifeline are here for you.

Call 13 11 14

Headspace

Free Support throughout this global crisis.

WhatsApp – Australian Government Official Updates

Cut through the fake news and get the facts, straight from the Australian Government.

Latest News – Latest numbers – Advice from your state government – Support – Medical advice – and much more.

aus.gov.au/whatsapp

Frequently Asked Questions from Owners and Tenants

Covid 19 (14)

In short, no.

Managing rental properties is considered an essential service, as we are facilitating shelter for our tenant population. Therefore, we are confident that our business will be allowed to continue to operate – albeit in a slightly different form.

We have moved our whole property management team offsite to work from home. Our offices will remain open for a central place to collect keys and receive visitors, with three administration staff in place at our North Lakes office (Fay, Yvette and Tarra) and one team member (Darren) at our Springfield office.

Laura our Managing Director will spend time between both offices to oversee operations and ensure services continue while safety protocols are adhered to.

To date, all our staff are well and healthy and able to perform their duties.

Our Property Managers are utilising online systems to successfully perform most of their duties remotely. We have activated a phone diversion, so their contact details remain the same. In most cases, we encourage email as the best form of communication.

To ensure continuity of service and promote a healthy work-life balance for our staff, we have asked them to maintain regular work hours (Monday-Friday 9am-5pm).

Strict hygiene protocols have been set up to protect our staff and visitors. Visitors must remain at reception and will not be permitted into our meeting rooms or back of office. This includes contractors. If there are too many people at reception to maintain the social distancing rules, we will ask visitors to remain outside until it is safe to enter.

Please do not touch anything in the office including the reception counter. If you need to sign something, we ask you to supply your own pen.

Those who wish to drop off keys or documentation are encouraged to use our after-hours drop boxes outside the offices.

North Lakes – Letter box on the footpath next to the coffee shop

Springfield – Drop box attached to the wall to the right of the door. Note that access to our Springfield office is by appointment only.

We understand the financial difficulty that many tenants will be experiencing – through no fault of their own. We also understand that most property owners will be going through similar hardships, and they need the rent money to make their mortgage payments.

If a tenant’s situation has not changed and they are not affected by COVID-19, they are expected to keep making their rent payments. We are obligated in these cases to issue breach notices and follow the eviction process for non-payment of rent.

If tenants are unable to make their full rental payments as a result of COVID-19, they need to fill out a Rental Assistance Request Form, providing evidence of financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19. We will then present this to the owner for their consideration.

The government is of course providing emergency assistance to those who have lost their jobs due to this crisis, so we are urging all tenants to take advantage of these grants and use this money to prioritise their rent payments. (See the link above for details.)

The following information applies to our tenants who find themselves in financial stress and unable to make their full rental payments due to the COVID-19 crisis. Tenants who have not been financially affected by COVID-19 are expected to continue making their rent payments.

Your first action should be to contact Centrelink and other government agencies who are supplying emergency assistance to all affected by COVID-19. See the links on our COVID-19 page for access to this assistance.

Next, you need fill out our COVID-19 Rental Assistance Request Form, providing evidence of financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19. We will then present this to the owner for their consideration.

Please be aware that many property owners are also experiencing serious hardship at this time, and may not be in a position to offer a rent reduction. However, we hope to be able to work with all parties to get through this crisis together.

It is important for us to continue ‘business as usual’ in finding and placing new tenants into rental properties.

Utilising technology and careful safety protocols, we have managed to limit face-to-face contact while continuing to provide a high level of service to owners and tenants.

To protect both current and prospective tenants, we have made it policy to NOT hold viewings while tenants are still in place. Our first viewing is held after the property has been cleaned and the vacate inspection has been completed.

We utilise InspectRealEstate, a state-of-the-art online enquiry and booking system which manages all enquiries and maintains communication to ensure we do not lose any potential tenants.

To manage the viewing process while adhering to strict COVID-19 guidelines, we only take through prospective tenants who have been pre-qualified. We do this by asking prospects to submit an online application form. Once they have passed our criteria (affordability and rental history), we ‘Short-List’ the applicant who may then book in for a viewing

This also works to speed up the process once the prospect has viewed the property, as all we need to do is present the application to the owner for their approval.

Our in-house online application form ezyAPP makes applying for a property quick and effortless – no need to print, and no need for face-to-face meetings or exchange of paperwork. If the prospect is happy to take the property without viewing it at all, we can accommodate an early approval.

At the property viewing, we strictly adhere to social distancing and hygiene protocols. Firstly the staff member opens up the property to allow a free flow of air. Then high-touch surfaces like door handles and benches are wiped over with anti-bacterial solution.

If there is more than one group attending, we schedule mini time slots so that groups are given private access one at a time. We ask other groups to wait for their time slot in the comfort of their car, and keep at least 2 metres from other groups when approaching the property. We also ask visitors to avoid touching anything inside the house.

3D Virtual Tours have become very useful in marketing rental properties – not only while access is limited because tenants are in place, but also to assist prospective tenants who are self-isolating and unable to leave their homes. We can arrange a 3D Virtual Tour for your property at a very reasonable price – just let us know!

Yes, that’s correct. Our policy has always been to not hold ‘Open Homes’ at our properties. All our inspections are by appointment only and these will continue as per the Government Guidelines.

Because we place a high importance on personal service in welcoming a new tenant, we needed to find alternate ways to keep the personal touch while maintaining social distancing.

Fortunately, last year we introduced electronic signing of leases, and tenants love the convenience of being able to sign their lease to secure their property within 24 hours of being approved.

Secondly, we have replaced our face-to-face ‘Tenant Welcome Appointment’ with a ‘Tenant Welcome Video Chat’, where the property manager takes them through the documentation, introduces our service, and gives tips on how to ensure a smooth enjoyable tenancy.

On the commencement of the lease, the tenant makes their one and only visit to our office, where they spend a maximum of 10 minutes signing for the keys and Entry Condition Report and collecting their Welcome Pack.

At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, we decided that entering a tenanted property to do a thorough inspection exposed both our staff and the tenant to an unacceptable level of risk.

Therefore, we decided to suspend all property inspections until it is deemed safe to resume them.

As at the beginning of May, we are seeing restrictions starting to ease and are planning to resume our inspections around June/July.

Our contractors have their own protocols in place to minimise risk when visiting tenanted properties, so we expect routine maintenance to be attended to as per normal times.

The COVID-19 Tenancy Laws clearly state that all tenants are required to allow access for urgent repairs and compliance visits including smoke alarm checks. The exceptions are those households that have occupants who are sick with the virus, at high risk, or undergoing state-imposed quarantine directions.

Maintenance is actioned through our online Maintenance Manager program which allows tenants to take photos of the issue. The contractor may be able to determine the problem without visiting first, reducing the number of visits required.

Owners need to be aware that most contractors will not be willing to attend a tenanted property to quote a job; at best they can provide a desktop estimate.

Now more than ever, it is vital to maintain stable, secure and safe tenancies, which is achieved by renewing fixed-term leases. Tenants are encouraged to sign their lease renewals several weeks prior to the end of the lease.

Fortunately, last year we introduced electronic signing of leases, so lease renewals are processed efficiently and safely without the need for face-to-face meetings or exchange of paperwork.

More recently (April 2020) we introduced state-of-the art technology called ONE TOUCH EXECUTION which doesn’t even require a digital signature. Tenants are finding this process so easy, turnaround times for leases has been reduced to just a few days.

We recommend to owners to consider carefully any rent raises as many tenants’ financial situation will be unsettled and the goodwill an owner shows in these circumstances will benefit you in the long run.

Queensland smoke alarm laws require a property owner to have smoke alarms checked within 30 days of the start of a new lease.

The COVID-19 Tenancy Laws clearly state that all tenants are required to allow access for urgent repairs, and this includes smoke alarm compliance checks. The exceptions are those households that have occupants who are sick with the virus, at high risk, or undergoing state-imposed quarantine directions.

If a tenant identifies in the above categories and denies entry, we must postpone the compliance visit until it is safe to enter the property. In the meantime, we advise the tenants that the responsibility for testing the smoke alarms is passed onto them.

To limit face-to-face contact with our staff, we are asking tenants to drop off their keys in our after-hours drop boxes rather than bring them in personally. North Lakes Office – In the Letterbox on the footpath, next to the coffee shop; Springfield Office – In the Drop Box on the wall to the right of the front door.

We encourage the tenants to email the documentation including the Exit Condition Report directly to the Property Manger.

The vacate procedure remains the same, as our property managers perform their vacate inspections without the tenant present.

Many owners have expressed concern for their tenants and have asked if there was anything they could do to help.

We understand that many property owners are going through the same financial difficulties as their tenants and may not be in a position to give extra assistance. However, if you are able to assist your tenants financially, our suggestion is to offer one or two weeks’ rent free. Just email carol@solutionsproperty.com.au and she will arrange it for you.

This can provide a relief for tenants who have lost their jobs and are waiting for their Centrelink payments to start coming through.

Sometimes it’s not about the money. Tenants can feel unsettled at the best of times, because they don’t have total control over their tenancy if owners decide to sell or move in. Right now, they will be feeling even more anxious and some words of comfort from the owner of the property may make a big difference. A simple idea is to post a hand-written letter to them. You could even add a gift card to buy groceries (eg Coles/Myer card). Even a small gesture will show them you are thinking of them.

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