There’s no doubt that COVID-19 is having varied impacts on residential property and this includes the rental space. The last few weeks have seen changes of all sorts, leaving many tenants and landlords confused. In this article, we take a look at some of the major changes and the help that is available.
Queensland in particular has experienced somewhat of a rollercoaster, with the REIQ lobbying for a more balanced property market with the ‘Everyone matters in Real Estate‘ campaign. After 350,000 letters were sent to Anastasia Palaszczuk over three days, the government reached out to collaborate on a package that ensures protection for everyone.
Now, our Government has committed over $400 million to support landlords and tenants, in both the commercial and residential sector who may be impacted by COVID-19.
Cathie Crampton, Place’s Director of Property Management says that “the COVID-19 situation has impacted many parties, including our valued tenant and owner clients. Some tenants have found themselves experiencing hardship in meeting their leasehold obligation and may require forms of temporary support, and landlords are also experiencing hardship due to wage reduction or job losses. As such, there are avenues available to assist both parties to get through this turbulent time.”
Cathie Crampton, Place Estate Agents Head of Property Management
Government Initiatives include up to $400 million in land tax relief for eligible landlords, which must be passed onto tenants, and a crisis payment of $500 per week for up to four weeks in rent relief for residential tenants who are homeless, or at imminent risk of becoming homeless and have exhausted other options.
Some of the legislative changes include:
- 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 the 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, the tenant(s) must be in severe financial hardship which is defined as a 75% reduction in combined 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.
These changes make it a win for property owners and their tenants, because after all, everyone matters in real estate.
Cathie adds, “Since COVID-19, and all the changes that have come with it, we have been in constant contact with all our owner and tenant clients via multiple mediums to assess their need for support or clarity on proposed reforms and available support measures. By offering regular legislation updates and holding live Q&A sessions, we have been able to ease and assess any concerns and ensure they are comfortable to navigate the current climate. Whether it’s for income support or mortgage relief, we’ve provided avenues to help.”
It’s no news that the world of real estate is facing many challenges at the moment, thanks to COVID-19 and consequent government regulations. At Place, we see these challenges as opportunities to innovate and provide new solutions for our valued clients, and the Brisbane community.
Cathie agrees, seeing the silver lining in the COVID situation. “Challenging times provide great opportunities to learn from our support mechanisms for our clients, and that’s exactly what we’ve tried, and always will, do. Our property managers and leasing agents have truly shone in this time of crisis, adapting and helping tenants and landlords navigate through the chaos.”
Even before COVID-19, being a tenant or a landlord can be stressful, but it shouldn’t be that way. At Place Estate Agents, we pride ourselves on providing the most seamless experience to tenants, landlords, buyers and sellers, no matter the circumstance. If you’re a tenant or landlord, we’re here to help and welcome any concerns you may have at this time. Here are some more useful resources:
- Queensland Government COVID-19 Hub
- Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA)
- Domain’s Coronavirus Guide for renters
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Article by Daisy Hicks