Frequently Asked Questions from Owners and Tenants
Answer: After many tenants expressing their concern, 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. Accordingly, we took the hard decision to suspend all property inspections until it is deemed safe to resume them. We have implemented drive by inspections so our Landlords can be assured the tenants are maintaining the lawns and gardens to an acceptable standard.
Answer: 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. 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.
Answer: Yes, that is correct. Our Policy for rental properties is to always not hold ‘Open Homes’. All our inspections are by appointment only and these will continue as per the Government Guidelines.
Answer: As you are aware, the law requires a property owner to have smoke alarms serviced within 30 days of the start of a new lease. To date, our Contractors have not been denied access for the purpose of servicing smoke alarms because all our tenants understand the importance of this legislative maintenance be carried out. If for any reason a tenant finds themself as a high risk or in self-isolation, at the moment, we will liaise direct with the tenant and the Contractor and arrange another alternative date ensuring we remain within the timeframes. Our Contractors have their own strict protocols in place to minimise the risk to themselves and the tenant.
Answer: There are currently a lot of tenants who are concerned about visual inspections due to the social distancing rules, so we have managed to limit face-to-face contact and yet successfully 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 living in their homes. Our first viewing is held after the property has been cleaned and the vacate inspection has been completed. We commence advertising and we also upload a Video Tour of the property wherein our staff show the property and all its attributes and explain on the video all the information that tenants usually want. We have found this to be an excellent tool and we are renting many properties with the Video Tour. The tenants are also required to sign a ‘Site unseen letter referring to the Video Tour due to COVID-19.
Should any prospective tenants wish to personally inspect the home, we certainly arrange this, however, screen them to ensure they are not experiencing any flu like symptoms and we explain the social distancing and gathering rules together with sanitizing requirements prior to their arrival at the property. If there is more than one group wanting a private inspection, we schedule the time slots accordingly. We ask other groups to wait for their time slot in the comfort of their airconditioned vehicle, so there is no cross over with other tenants. Our online Application makes applying for a property quick and effortless – no need to print, and no need for face-to-face meetings or exchange of paperwork. We also ask visitors to avoid touching anything inside the home.
Answer: Due to the heavy workload at this time, we encourage email as the best form of communication. If the matter is urgent, please feel free to call the office.
Answer: 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 and provide relief for tenants who have lost their jobs and waiting for their Centrelink payments to commence, we recommend you wait until we have all the relevant information of their situation so we can better inform you of the situation.
Answer: We place a high importance on personal service in welcoming a new tenant to our Agency. Due to COVID-19, the industry has changed the way we do business and we need to protect all parties health and safety at this time. We have 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. 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.
Answer: The vacate procedure remains the same, however, we are for this current time, not allowing tenants to attend their Vacate Inspection.
Answer: 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. Due to the introduction of electronic signing of leases, the 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.
Answer: 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 then discuss with them if they have registered with Centrelink for assistance. They will then be asked to complete the Rental Assistance Survey, providing evidence of financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19 and we will also require a copy of their Separation Certificate from their employer, if the tenant has lost their job. 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.
Answer: Strict hygiene protocols have been set up to protect our staff and visitors. We have placed a green line on our floor and visitors are to remain behind this line at all times. If too many people are in reception, to maintain social distancing rules, we will ask visitors to remain outside until it is safe to enter. We have signs on display to ensure our visitors to do not touch anything in our office. If you need to sign something in our office, we ask you supply your own pen. Those who wish to drop off keys or documentation can do so by leaving them on the counter next to the green line. We have hand sanitizer and antiseptic wipes and encourage all visitors to use this.
Answer: In short no. In our opinion, managing rental properties is considered an essential service, as we are facilitating shelter for our tenants. Therefore, we are confident that our business will be allowed to continue to operate, albeit in a slightly different way.
We have some staff working offsite from home and we have moved staff in the office to comply with social distancing rules. Our office will remain open unless we are instructed otherwise from the Government.
To date, all our staff are well and healthy and able to perform their duties.
Answer: 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.