Has your investment property been affected by COVID-19?
The Queensland Government implemented a range of measures to assist landlords and tenants who have been impacted by COVID-19.
Preventing homelessness during the pandemic remains a critical reason for these temporary changes, which came into effect on the 29th March 2020 and will continue until the 31st December 2020.
These temporary changes include guidelines for negotiating rent relief, safely carrying out routine inspections, extending lease agreements and selling your investment property.
Although it has been criticised that the new regulations benefit tenants more than landlords, we have found ways to navigate these issues and find an agreement that meets the needs of both parties.
We are fortunate that less than 10% of our tenants have been impacted by COVID-19. Of those that have required assistance, here are some questions we have dealt with during the pandemic.
My tenants are struggling to pay their rent, what do I do?
Our first point of call is to gain an understanding of the tenant’s circumstances. Another reason why we love working with a smaller portfolio, is that we actually get to know our tenants, so gauging a true understanding of their situation sets the stage for a harmonious solution.
In Queensland, a tenancy is deemed to be impacted by COVID-19 if:
- The tenants are suffering excessive hardship because of COVID-19. You can view the full list of hardship criteria here, on page 3; AND
- The tenant suffers a loss of income of 25% or more; OR
- The rent payable is 30% or more of a person’s income.
Once we have ascertained the tenant’s circumstances and verified financial hardship, we work with both parties to negotiate a suitable solution. In some cases, this might mean agreeing to a reduced rent for a period of time, with the outstanding amount to be repaid to the landlord over a predetermined time.
The lease agreement is due to end, can the tenants move out?
The Queensland Government has implemented an eviction freeze which remains in place until the 30th September 2020. Fixed term tenancy agreements which were due to end before this date will automatically be extended to the 30th September 2020, unless the tenant agrees they would like to move out at the end of the lease.
However, there are some special circumstances that allow the landlord to end the tenancy agreement prior to this date. This includes if the property owner or their immediate family need to move into the rental property, or if the property owner is preparing the home for sale. You can view the full list of special circumstances here, on page 8.
Can my property manager carry out routine inspections or maintenance?
Yes, but only if the tenant agrees to allow access. Tenants can refuse entry for non-essential reasons, particularly if a member of the household is vulnerable. If this is the case, the tenants have to agree to a virtual inspection of the property.
The health and safety of our clients and the community is our number one priority. This is why we implement strict health measures to conduct physical routine inspections.
To ensure that both the residents and staff are not exposed to health risks, we are following government guidelines by wearing face masks, gloves, sanitising hands and practising social distancing during inspections.
If an emergency maintenance repair is required, entry will be arranged in line with public health directives.
I’ve decided to sell my investment property. What happens to my tenants?
If you choose to sell your investment property during COVID-19, the owner can ask the tenant to vacate with 60 days’ notice if they are preparing the property for sale or require vacant possession for a sale.
This provision was amended under the eviction freeze and is now a new, approved reason for property owners to end the tenancy agreement.
Keeping up to date with changing regulations
As COVID-19 continues to evolve, so too does the advice from health officials and the Queensland Government. We subscribe to a rental advisory board, who keep us up to date with the most current advice from state and federal governments. This ensures we can offer the latest advice to our clients.
COVID-19 Information for Landlords & Tenants
Here are some useful links for landlords and tenants in Queensland, who have been impacted by COVID-19.
- Queensland Government – Residential Tenancies Practice Guide
- RTA – COVID-19 Changes
- Queensland Government COVID Hub – For Property Owners
Do you need advice regarding your investment property?
We’re always happy to offer free advice and walk you through your property options. Call Byrony on 0412 132 480 for a chat anytime.