Owner News

Update 18th March 2020

With the prevalence of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Australia slowly spreading, the well-being of HomeRentals clients and our staff is of great importance to us. We are emailing or texting you to update you on our contingency plans as a business as of close of business today.

Our office is now closed to the public, however some of our staff are in attendance handling the day to day running of our business. In addition, the remainder of our staff are working from home and have access to all our software and databases. At this stage, we will make every effort to keep our business running, and keep all our processes as normal as possible.

Following is a brief outline of factors that will affect you, our owners

RENT PAYMENTS- Rent will be paid as normal into our trust account and disbursed as normal to you at the end of the month. As of today, we have contacted the RTA (Residential Tenancy Authority) and the REIQ (Real Estate Institute of QLD) with regard to tenants who have been stood down due the virus or who have gone into self- isolation due government regulations and cant pay their rent. NO ADVICE has been received at this stage and we will endeavour to keep you informed.

MAINTENANCE- At this stage, all our tradespeople are still working. However, subject to the tradesperson, there might be a requirement for the tenants to vacate their property to attend to certain types of maintenance.

ROUTINE INSPECTIONS- As of close of business today, we are postponing all our normal routine inspections. This will be reviewed on a monthly basis and you will be updated accordingly. Tenants have been advised of this and that it is still their responsibility to maintain your property in a presentable manner.

OPEN HOMES/VIEWING- As of close of business today, we will no longer be showing homes to prospective tenants whilst they are occupied by another tenant. This is not only to protect our current tenants, but also our staff and the public from possible infection. 

Our priority is to ensure that all our clients and staff remain healthy. If you have any queries or questions, please feel free to contact us. Please be patient as we have limited office staff on duty. If any of the above circumstances change, we will update you accordingly. 

Please remain safe and healthy during these trying times that we all face.

 

Update 24th March

GOVERNMENT:  We are currently waiting on advice from the government whether there will be any rent subsidies for Tenants who have lost their jobs.

TENANTS:  We are also being inundated with phone calls from tenants who have either lost jobs or have reduced work hours and are asking for rent decreases or help. You might receive a phone call regarding this matter.

TENANTS WHO FAIL TO PAY RENT:  We have recently been advised that normal procedures need to be followed in case your tenants lose their jobs and cannot pay their rent. This is so that if you do not receive rent, your insurance company will cover the costs subject to your individual policies.  However, this may not be the case with all Insurance companies as this outbreak has been classed a pandemic. We advise that you seek advice from your own insurance company regarding this matter.

This is a complicated process subject to weekends and public holidays but roughly involves the following procedures. They will receive a sms after 4 days, a notice to remedy after 8 days and then a notice to leave after approximately 17-18 days.  A notice to leave can then be issued giving another 9 days to vacate the property. After this time has expired, we have another 10 business days to apply to the courts for an eviction to be valid.

During this time however, and the unusual circumstances we all face, before we send the Notice to Vacate, we will seek further advice and clarification from yourselves whether we proceed or not. This of course will need be in writing. There is no judgment in this decision as everyone’s circumstances are different in these difficult times.

All our other work practices remain unchanged as previously advised. We have currently 2 employees working from home whilst 3 are working in our office which remains closed to the public. As we are now understaffed in the office, please be patient in trying to contact us. Email is currently our preferred method and we will respond as soon as possible.

Once again, please remain safe and look after your families.

 

Update 25th March

OPEN HOUSES:  The Government announced last night that Open Houses and Auctions are now banned for the Real Estate Industry. As stated earlier, we have not shown your properties for rent whilst there has been a tenant in place. We have also not conducted Open Homes for the purposes of showing  prospective tenants through a property. What we have been doing and will continue to do so, is make separate appointments to prospective tenants to show them on a one to one basis. No children are allowed and the prospective tenants have been told not to touch anything. Our Property Managers are following strict separation guidelines  as per the government instructions as well as for their own safety.

 

Update 30th March

The government announced last night that no tenant can be evicted for the next 6 months. We are awaiting clarification for current cases going through the courts as well as clarification if this only refers to Tenants who have lost their jobs because of Covid 19. 

 

Update 9th April

Below is a media statement from the QLD Premier.

Special COVID-19 Protections for residential tenants and owners

 

The Palaszczuk Government has unveiled a package of measures to implement the freeze on evictions. Deputy Premier Jackie Trad is encouraging tenants, property owners and agents to work together to sustain tenancies during this public health emergency. “We’ve all heard of stories of too many Queenslanders who are doing it tough right now, and the Palaszczuk Government recognises the hardship they are suffering.  “It’s not in the interest of anyone to have tenants left without a place to go when we are fighting to prevent the spread of a deadly disease.

“We will not allow anyone to be evicted because they can’t pay their rent as a result of this crisis.”

Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni said that Queenslanders would always rally to support each other when times were tough, and that he was encouraged by the already high number of people resolving issues and supporting each other. “Neither landlords nor tenants are to blame for this, and now is the time for them to work together to get through this pandemic” Mr de Brenni said. “The Palaszczuk Government has launched an online rental hub at www.covid19.qld.gov.au/the-hub to provide all of the information and resources to support discussions between property owners and renters. “For those that can’t reach an agreement, there will be compulsory conciliation for COVID-19  related disputes between tenants and landlords through the Residential Tenancies Authority. “In asking tenants and property owners to find a solution that works for all parties, the RTA will have clear guidelines that prohibit a requirement to draw on superannuation, or sell basic personal assets.”

Freeze on evictions

Mr de Brenni said the Palaszczuk Government will implement the National Cabinet decision to freeze evictions due to rent arrears for Queensland tenants impacted by COVID-19. “We’re providing certainty by implementing a retrospective freeze on evictions, as of Sunday 29 March 2020. New protections now mean that property owners will be prohibited from evicting a tenant if their lease expires during COVID-19 public health crisis. “This means that a property owner must offer an extension to the lease for at least a further 6 months,” said Mr de Brenni .“Alternatively, if a tenant cannot pay rent due to impacts of coronavirus and wants to end their lease early, they will be allowed to do so. “Tenants will still be required to demonstrate respect for their property and neighbours by maintaining their home in accordance with their tenancy agreement.”

Rental Support

The Deputy Premier said the Palaszczuk Government had also introduced failsafe measures to support tenants experiencing hardship and unable to access or waiting for other financial support be there for Queensland tenants if all else failed. “New eligibility criteria is now in place for rental grants of up to four weeks rent, or a maximum of $2,000. “This is a last resort for Queenslanders in need of support while they are waiting for federal government support to prevent homelessness.”

DFV Protections

Mr de Brenni said the Palaszczuk Government would also implement legislative protections that would  allow Queenslanders experiencing domestic and family violence to leave a rental property in a hurry. “We want all Queenslanders to be safe at home, but for some people this is just not the case. “If you need to escape in a hurry, we won’t allow paperwork to stand in your way. “Immediate support to end tenancies quickly, change locks without seeking approval, access bond and separate from co-tenancies will be introduced.”

Update 15th March

We received this response from our governing body. REIQ (Real Estate Institute of QLD)

When it comes to real estate, everybody matters. That’s why it’s important everyone is recognised equally when it comes to the Palaszczuk Government’s special COVID-19 residential property proposals which, in their current form, will harm over 600,000 property owners who provide the vast majority of rental housing supply to 35% of Queensland’s population who rent. In addition, it’s certain to have a devastating impact on the future of the property market and broader Queensland economy. 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. With your help, we are calling on the Palaszczuk Government to amend the following aspects of the special COVID-19 residential property proposals:

  •  
  • Introduce rent deferrals rather than permanent rent waiver rights for tenants. This aligns with the Federal Government model and framework adopted/being adopted in other jurisdictions;
  •  
  • Introduce a minimum income reduction threshold for tenants to meet before they qualify for the protection measures. In New South Wales, a 25% income reduction requirement applies;
  •  
  • Introduce a standard requirement for tenants to substantiate a rent reduction request to allow landlords to make properly informed and fair decisions about rent reductions;
  •  
  • Introduce clear guidelines on property entry requirements, and broaden the range of activities allowed to continue, subject to applicable safety and hygiene protocols;
  •  
  • Remove the proposed break lease right that allows tenants to simply walk away from tenancy agreements with only 1 weeks’ notice notwithstanding that those tenants are afforded all the other protections provided under the Renter Protection Package; and,

  • Remove the proposed automatic right to a 6-month tenancy agreement extension which in effect introduces a 12-month moratorium in Queensland with the consequential imposition of permanent rent waivers that would be extended over this additional period.

 

Once landlords discover the true extent of these distorted reforms, it will cause a revolt of a kind not seen before in a residential tenancy context. However, we need your help. Included in the enclosed attachment you will find an open letter (click here) – please pass this on to all of your landlords immediately. It’s important they understand the true ramifications of these damaging amendments. Then, visit our campaign page (click here) and follow a few simple steps to send one of our template letters to Premier Palaszczuk so your voice is heard in favour of protections that offer a better balance of security and stability to property owners and tenants alike. Now is the time to speak up before Parliament sits on Wednesday, 22 April 2020 to introduce amendments.

 

For more details, jump onto our Facebook page tonight (click here) where at 7.30pm I will be livestreaming more about this campaign and how you can be part of it. Together we can all make a difference.

 

Antonia Mercorella
Chief Executive Officer, The Real Estate Institute of Queensland

E: media@reiq.com.au
A: Level 1, 50 Southgate Avenue, CANNON HILL QLD 4170

 

Update 17th April

 

An Open Letter to Landlords from The Real Estate Institute of Queensland

Will the Palaszczuk Government’s Special COVID-19 Protections for Residential Tenants protect you?

As the owner of an investment property in Queensland, if you are not already aware of the Palaszczuk Government’s proposed Special COVID-19 Protections for residential tenants and landlords, The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) wants to ensure you understand them. As the peak body for real estate in Queensland, we support 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 the following proposals are introduced:

Your tenant/s will NOT have to pay back any rent. Put simply, a rent reduction negotiated with your tenant/s is a permanent rent waiver meaning you, as the landlord, will be out of pocket, with no means of recovering any unpaid rent in the future post COVID-19.

You CANNOT ask your tenant/s for any proof of financial hardship. Your tenant/s can request reduced rent due to COVID-19 without any proof. This potentially exposes you to false claims and exploitation of the proposed protections for those who genuinely need it.

Your Landlord Insurance will NOT cover you for rent in arrears*. The normal terms of your policy won’t cover the rent reduction as this is a mutual agreement between you, as the landlord, and your tenant and you cannot follow the necessary rent default process as this is prohibited. (*Please contact your relevant insurer for individual policy conditions)

Your tenancy agreement WILL immediately extend by 6 months if it expires during the 6 month freeze on evictions. Tenants will be automatically entitled to a 6-month extension of the tenancy agreement meaning any protections may last up to 12-months.

Your tenant/s can REFUSE ENTRY for anything other than emergency repairs. Not only can your tenant refuse access, they don’t have participate in virtual property inspections either. There’s also no clarity as to whether prospective purchasers can inspect a property that is for sale.

Your tenant/s can BREAK A LEASE with only 7 days’ notice. To make matters worse, you cannot recover any lost rent or costs associated with finding a new tenant as would normally apply.

Now you understand how the Palaszczuk Government’s proposed Special COVID-19 Protections favour tenants at the expense of landlords, The REIQ needs your urgent help before Parliament sits to pass these protections on Wednesday, 22 April 2020. For our voices to be heard, complete your details in the landlord template letter to Premier Palaszczuk provided by clicking here. It’s that simple. Together we can make a difference and achieve a more balanced outcome for landlords.

Antonia Mercorella

Chief Executive Officer

REIQ

 

Update 20th April

The REIQ's Contribution & Support - Everyone Matters In Real Estate

REIQ (Real Estate Institute of Queensland) rallied hundreds of thousands of Australians to send a clear message to the Queensland Government that we’re all in this together.

The Queensland Government reached out to The REIQ to collaborate on a package and here are the outcomes:

  • Rent payments and unpaid rent: Property owners and tenants can now agree on the terms of reduced rent and deferred repayment requirements.
  • Financial hardship requirements: The combined income of tenant/s must have reduced by more than 25% as a direct result of COVID-19 or where the rent amount exceeds 30% of income/s and tenant/s cannot afford to pay the rent.
  • Substantiation of financial hardship: Tenants must provide the same level of proof of income as is required at the start of the tenancy to seek a rent reduction.
  • Entry requirements: The Government will provide clear guidance to ensure access for essential repairs and maintenance, the sale of a property and virtual inspections.
  • Break lease: To qualify for the Government’s break lease provisions, tenant/s must be in severe financial hardship which is defined as a 75% reduction in combined tenant/s income and have less than $5,000 in savings.
  • Extension of a tenancy: A fixed term tenancy will be automatically extended to 30 September 2020 unless agreed otherwise.

The above outcomes mean that there is protection for everyone in the Real Estate industry. Thank you to everyone involved for your support.

 

Update 20th May

 

Recommencment of Physical Routine Inspections

Sent as email on the 20th May

 

I hope you and your family are well and staying safe.

I am writing regarding the rental property(s) we manage for you. We are planning to re-commence Physical Inspections at all of our managed properties on the 1st July subject to the QLD Government Legislation below.

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, it is important that we take all reasonable precautions to maintain the health and safety of tenants and occupants, staff, tradespeople and any other persons visiting the premises in connection with the tenancy.

Accordingly, to assist HomeRentals Queensland to determine whether any restrictions will apply to entering the premises during the COVID-19 emergency period, I have written to the tenant/s and requested that they advise us if:

1.  If a person at the property is subject to a quarantine direction (for example, the person has arrived in Queensland and is required to self-quarantine for 14 days in compliance with a public health direction); or

2.  Whether the tenant/s consider/s the entry would contravene a public health direction (https://www.health.qld.gov.au/system-governance/legislation/cho-public-health-directions-under-expanded-public-health-act-powers); or

3.  Whether the tenant/s refuse/s entry to the premises because they, or another person staying at the property, is a vulnerable person.

Vulnerable person means any of the following persons:

an individual over 70 years of age;

an individual over 65 years of age who has an existing health condition or comorbidities;

an Aboriginal person or Torres Strait Islander over the age of 50 who has an existing health condition or comorbidities;

an individual whose immune system is compromised.

Further, to minimise the risk of coronavirus spread, I also requested that the tenant/s advise if they or any other tenant or occupant:

have developed COVID-19; or

have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days and have developed respiratory illness with or without fever; or

have symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, sore throat, cough, fatigue or difficulty breathing.

Notwithstanding the information provided by the tenant in response to the above, I reserve the right to refuse to enter the premises if I reasonably believe the entry would contravene any of numbered paragraphs 1 – 3 above, or I am subject to a quarantine direction.

If the tenant/s advise/s that any of numbered paragraphs 1 – 3 above apply, or I am subject to a quarantine direction, the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020 (COVID-19 Regulation) provides that I must NOT enter the premises for the following grounds:

to inspect the premises;

to make routine repairs to, or carry out maintenance of, the premises;

if repairs or maintenance have been made or carried out under section 192(1)(b) of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (RTRA Act) — within 14 days after the completion of the repairs or maintenance, to inspect the repairs or maintenance;

to show the premises to a prospective buyer or tenant;

to allow a valuation of the premises to be carried out;

if you or I believe, on reasonable grounds, the premises have been abandoned;

if the tenant has been given a notice to remedy a breach of the agreement that is a significant breach—within 14 days after the end of the allowed remedy period, to inspect to ascertain whether the tenant

If I am not able to enter the premises to conduct an inspection or show the property to a prospective buyer or tenant, the tenant must allow me to carry out the inspection by:

a virtual inspection; or

video conferencing with me; or

the tenant giving me access to photographs or video of the premises and its inclusions of sufficient visual quality to enable me to judge the condition of the premises and inclusions. ( For this process we have developed our own form which the tenant(s) have access to)

Notwithstanding the above, and if necessary, the following grounds of entry are not affected:

to comply with the Fire and Emergency Services Act1990 in relation to smoke alarms;

to comply with the Electrical Safety Act 2002 in relation to approved safety switches;

if the tenant agrees;

in an emergency;

if you or I believe on reasonable grounds that the entry is necessary to protect the premises or inclusions from imminent or further damage.

Please note that the COVID-19 Regulation also provides that if entry to the premises is not permitted as outlined above, and entry is required to comply with your obligations under section 185 of the RTRA Act, you are released from the obligation while entry to the property is not permitted. However, you are not released from an obligation to undertake emergency repairs.

 

 If you wish to discuss this matter further or require additional clarification, please do not hesitate to contact our Office Manager, Debbie Dekker on 07 38234988 or at debbie@homerentals.com.au

I appreciate your patience and understanding at this challenging time. I hope that you and your family remain safe.

Yours faithfully

 

 

The Team at HomeRentals Queensland

P: 07 3823 4988

E: info@homerentals.com.au