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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.
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 contact us immediately (preferably by email). We will send them a Rental Assistance Survey to complete, 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 above for access to this assistance.
Next, you need to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org. We will send you a Rental Assistance Survey to complete, 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.
The Leasing process proved to be a challenge, but we have managed to limit face-to-face contact yet continue 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 compensate for the delay in being able to view the property, we encourage interested tenants to apply so that they can be ‘short-listed’ if everything checks out fine. 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 sight unseen, 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.
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.
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 took the hard decision to suspend all property inspections until it is deemed safe to resume them.
On a promising note, we are working with our maintenance software provider to enable tenants to record and stream in real time high-quality video walk-throughs of the property. This looks to be a few weeks away, and we will make an announcement once it is launched.
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 exceptions are those households that have occupants who are high risk, unwell, or in self-isolation.
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.
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.
As you are aware, the law requires a property owner to have smoke alarms checked within 30 days of the start of a new lease.
Since the COVID-19 crisis began, several tenants identifying themselves as high risk have requested to cancel the technician’s visit. In such cases, we must accept the tenant’s wishes, and the responsibility for testing the smoke alarm is passed onto the tenant.
Once the crisis is over, we will of course arrange for the check to be completed for those that were postponed.
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.
All documentation including the Exit Condition Report are to be emailed 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 email@example.com 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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