OTHER RELATED UPDATES
- Covid-19 Changes – Information for Tenants and for Property Owners and Managers
- Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accomodation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020
- Landlords and Real Estate Supporters: Let Your Voice Be Heard
- Landlord Insurance Coverage – COVID-19 FAQ
- The Forgotten Soldier: A Property Manager’s Story
- AirBNB Booking Cancellations: How to Recover from Revenue Losses
- Update from Arrive on the impact of COVID-19
- Economic Response to the Corona Virus
- Brisbane City Council on Rate Reliefs amid COVID-19
- COVID-19: Emergency Rental Assistance for Qualified Queenslanders
New laws for tenants and property owners impacted by COVID-19 have been released by the Queensland Government. Effective until 31 December 2020, the provisional amendments are aimed at keeping people safe and continuing to live in their homes and to helping property owners protect their investments during the COVID-19 emergency period.
Here are some important laws that you need to know:
Information for tenants
- A six-month moratorium on evictions
- Extension to 30 September 2020 for fixed-term agreements due to end during the COVID-19 emergency
- Tenants who are having trouble paying rent should talk to their property owner or manager about what is affordable and request to renegotiate their rental agreement.
- Tenants suffering domestic and family violence are given more options to terminate their tenancy agreements.
Information for property owners and managers
- Financial relief available to property owners and managers whose income have been affected and are having difficulty in meeting their end of the rental agreement
- Owners can move into their rental property if needed and with the appropriate notice, and property managers can virtually inspect the rental property.
Read more about Covid-19 Changes
RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES AND ROOMING ACCOMODATION REGULATION 2020
Passed on 24 April 2020, the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommo-dation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020 contains provisional amendments to support tenants and landlords during the COVID-19 emergency.
The regulation, which will be in effect during the COVID-19 emergency period and will end on 31 December 2020, applies to residential tenancy agreements signed before or after 29 March 2020, and landlords, tenants and their agents involved in those agreements.
The Act has various implications on people with a residential tenancy agreement in place.
Read more about Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020.
LANDLORD INSURANCE COVERAGE – COVID-19 FAQ
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented event that is causing distress and confusion to many people. In the property sector, there are a lot of questions about how Landlord’s insurance is supporting tenants the pandemic.
Here are some Landlord Insurance FAQs that can hopefully answer the questions that are probably weighing heavily on the minds of both property investors and property managers.
Does the Landlord Preferred Policy provide cover if my tenant loses their job because of the COVID-19 pandemic and breaks their lease before its due date and vacates the property with rent owing?
The Landlord Preferred Policy provides cover for loss of rent, damage caused by tenants and legal liability subject to the terms and limits in the policy.
If your tenant loses their job, gets behind in their rent and vacates the property leaving rent unpaid, this is covered under the policy subject to all terms and conditions of the policy being met.
There are ongoing discussions regarding how the Federal, State and Territory governments can assist tenants facing financial distress and eviction if they are unable to meet their commitments. We will know more once a detailed announcement is made, including what this means for landlords. Under the Landlord Preferred Policy, if a tenant remains in the property and does not pay rent, there is no cover for loss of rent.
During March, the Federal and State governments also announced a series of economic support packages for workers, households and businesses.
Please note, if your tenant was in arrears when your Landlord Preferred Policy started, then Loss of Rent cover will not be available to you under the policy terms until the tenant brings their rental payments out of arrears for two consecutive months.
My tenant is in isolation and may have COVID-19, will I be covered if they have remained in my property and can’t work to be able to pay the rent?
The Landlord Preferred Policy does not provide cover if your tenant is ill and cannot pay their rent for a period because they cannot work.
If my tenant tests positive for the virus, am I covered for any cleaning costs that may be required?
The policies don’t provide cover for cleaning under these circumstances. Subject to the terms of their lease, it is typically the tenant’s responsibility to maintain the cleanliness of the property and leave the premises as nearly as possible in the same condition, fair wear and tear excepted, as when they started living in it.
If my sole tenant unfortunately dies from COVID-19 in the property, will I be covered for any required biohazard cleaning?
The Landlord Preferred Policy will cover you for the necessary cleaning should this event occur. The Landlord Preferred Policy also provides cover for loss of rent in the event of the death of your tenant when they are the sole person listed on the lease, for up to 15 weeks loss of rent.
I heard on the new that the Government is going to stop landlords from evict-ing tenants who can’t pay the rent. How am I supposed to manage if I’m not receiving any rent?
There are ongoing discussions regarding how the Federal, State and Territory governments can assist tenants facing financial distress and eviction if they are unable to meet their commitments. We will know more once a detailed announcement is made, including what this means for landlords.
During March, the Federal and State governments also announced a series of economic support packages for workers, households and businesses.
My Property Manager had advised me they are now working from home and won’t be able to do property inspections. Will that mean I can’t claim or that my claim won’t be covered?
When assessing a claim for damages we will request a copy of the Property Manager’s inspection reports as they may contain information relevant to assessing your claim. We understand people and businesses are adapting their ways of working in response to the quickly changing situation, meaning Property Managers may not be able to conduct in-person inspections at this time. We understand the restrictions around movement and will take that into consideration when assessing your claim.
However, it is important to note that you will still need to provide proof of your loss, damage or liability, to support your claim (e.g. photos, receipts).
What if tradespeople can’t do repairs, or assessors can’t inspect a property?
Urgent or emergency repairs will still be able to be completed. We appreciate it may take a little longer for repairs of a non-urgent nature which are claimable under the policy to be completed and we will consider this in our assessment of your claim. If an Assessor is unable to inspect your property, we will talk you through the options.
My tenant had advised that they had some of their shifts cut. They are still paying rent but have asked me if I will accept lower payments for a few weeks until they can get more work. Will this impact my ability to claim?
This type of situation may arise for property investors in the coming months.
Your policy covers loss of rent that your tenant is legally responsible for under their lease. If you agree to a rent decrease this will not be covered under your policy.
However, under the policy terms and conditions, you are required to do what you can to mitigate any loss. Generally, this would mean not doing anything that would prolong or add to any loss or rent the tenant is legally responsible for. Given the current situation we encourage you to work closely with your tenant to maintain payments.
My tenant is an international student. They went home before the semester started and now can’t get back into Australia. Am I covered for the rent they are not paying?
The tenant has signed a lease and is responsible for adhering to the terms of the lease, including paying rent. Loss of rent under this situation is not covered by the Landlord Preferred Policy whilst the lease continues and the tenant has not vacated the property, however, there is harm is asking if your landlord insurance provider would consider the individual circumstances of your claim.
My property is rented out to holiday makers on a short-term basis. I have had three people this week cancel bookings. Can I claim on my Short Stay Policy?
The Short Stay Policy provides cover for lost bookings in short term/ holiday rentals caused by certain insured events, which typically relate to damage the property. The Short Stay Policy does not provide cover if a guest cancels a reservation due to a pandemic or otherwise.
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EVERYONE MATTERS IN REAL ESTATE
Everyone matters in real estate – that’s why it’s important everyone is recognised equally when it comes to the Palaszczuk Government’s COVID-19 residential property proposals. For landlords in particular, now is the time for your voice to be heard.
As the peak body for real estate in Queensland, The REIQ supports the need for tenant protection during COVID-19 however, we are fundamentally opposed to some of the proposed measures. You should be too. As a landlord, you will ultimately foot the bill if changes are not made to proposed amendments in their current form.
Whether you’re a landlord or real estate supporter, all it takes is a few simple steps for change to take place.
Visit https://www.reiq.com/everyonematters/ to take action.
View REIQ’s Facebook page to learn more.
COVID-19 – LANDLORD FAQS
Q. What occurs if following unemployment due to COVID-19, a tenant wants to break their lease due to financial hardship?
A. Coverage may be available under the rent default section based on hardship, but the normal rules of termination will apply subject to the policy terms and conditions and coverage limits.
Q. Can rent default be claimed if the tenant is unable to pay rent due to COVID-19?
A. Yes, this is claimable under the rent default section of the policy. Please refer to the Landlord Insurance PDS.
Q. Can a shortfall be claimed if the landlord and their tenant mutually agree to a reduction in the weekly rental payments?
A. No, the difference in weekly rent is not claimable as this is a mutual agreement between the landlord and tenant.
Q. Can rent default be claimed if the landlord and their tenant mutually agree upon a suspension of their rental payments?
A. No, as this is a mutual agreement between the landlord and the tenant.
Q. Are there any restrictions in place should a landlord wish to take out a new Landlord Insurance policy that might cover a COVID-19 related event?
A. From 5pm AEST, Friday, 3 April 2020, CGU will not be able to offer ‘Rent default and theft by a tenant’ cover on new policies. The cover will remain on all existing policies.
Aon and CGU are committed to helping customers through this difficult period, so CGU will continue to offer cover for Contents, Loss of Rent and Liability on new Landlords Insurance policies.
Insurance is intended to protect customers from unforeseen events. During this difficult economic period, it is likely that some tenants will struggle to meet their rental payments and that cover for ‘Rent default and theft by a tenant’ is not unforeseeable and therefore it is not appropriate to offer this cover on new Landlords Insurance policies.
This will continue until further advised.
Q. If a tenant were to die inside a leased property from COVID-19, will Landlords Insurance cover a forensic clean and property fumigation?
A. No, however clean-up costs up to the bond amount are permitted as per your lease agreement for reletting expenses.
Q. In the case of a death of a tenant due to COVID-19, how long will rent default cover apply for if the property remains vacant?
A. Landlord Insurance is available to cover the loss of rental income due to the death of a tenant provided that tenant was the only person named on the lease. The policy will pay up to 15 weeks rent with a six-week reletting period. Please note that a $12,000 maximum limit applies.
Q. COVID-19 may cause a decline in the demand for rental properties. If the tenant’s lease is about to come to an end and I am unable to secure another tenant due to lack of demand in the rental market, will losses be covered?
A. No, the policy does not respond to rental market fluctuations.
Q. If the tenant advises the agent/landlord of a trip overseas and then abandons the property following country lockouts and falls into rental payment arrears, how will insurance respond if it is deemed a claimable event?
This is claimable under the rent default section of the policy. Please refer to the Landlord Insurance PDS.
Q. What is the claims process should I need to make a claim?
A. We have a 24-hour claims hotline. Please call 1800 105 900 to lodge your claim over the phone.
OFFICIAL COVID-19 APP
The Australian Government has released an official app with the information you need to know about #coronavirus.
“(The feature) enables us to talk to Australians in terms of basic health advice, updates on the measures that are being put in place by state and federal governments,” Mr Morrison said.
Search “Coronavirus Australia” in the Apple App Store and on Google Play.
“And that will assist you to get accurate and timely information about what is being done by governments around the country to support you, as you and your family and your household and your community work through the difficult months ahead because of the coronavirus.”
Mr Morrison added the Coronavirus Australia app would be a “trusted place of advice and information” about the current situation.