Subject: COVID19 Update
As you all may be aware of the extreme measures the government are taking to minimise the spread of COVID 19. Smart Property Manager has been monitoring this progress and determining the impact it would have on not only our company but also your investment properties.
Due to the current COVID-19 crisis we have decided to take action in trying to keep all of our tenants safe as well as ourselves. We understand this may be an inconvenience but from here onwards we have decided to take the following action:
All routine inspections have been suspended until further notice, we will continue to monitor properties but will not be entering the premises. We will have tenants take photos, we will make an itemised list of the things we require of maintenance.
We will be asking tenants if they are financial duress and will be providing them links with to government websites to assist them with paying their rent, tenants may be asking for rent reductions so be prepared as you may hear from us in relation to this.
All landlords need to look into their landlord insurance urgently! Check your policies are up to date.
All properties that are up for lease will be on hold until the properties are vacant, we will be looking into Virtual reality tours of the properties, and we are currently obtaining quotes. We believe this is a positive step forward into the future, even if you don’t see the value of it now you will be able to use it for future leasing and if you wish to sell it is a massive advantage as many properties are starting to use virtual tours.
If you are directly affected by COVID-19 we are completely sympathetic and have a few links that may be able to help, please see below:
The Second Stage of the Federal Government’s Economic Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic:
“There’s a 6 month moratorium on evictions – what should I do?
As your property managers, property advisers and landlords ourselves, we are also kept in the dark about what assistance there is at the very minute for landlords and tenants!
From the Prime Ministers (confusing and unclear) message over the weekend, both commercial and residential landlords will be banned from evicting tenants who can’t meet their commitments because of financial stress caused by the coronavirus economic downturn for the next six months.
This is part of what Prime Minister Scott Morrison calls the “hibernation approach” as the government tries to build bridges for us to get to the other side of this global pandemic. While this brings up lots of questions, unfortunately, there is no rule book as we are in uncharted territory and details of the proposed assistance schemes for both tenants or landlords have yet to be released.
Tenants who are not significantly affected by coronavirus are expected to honour their leases and rental agreements, but at Smart Property Manager we have already seen many tenants request rental relief because of job “uncertainty” and a couple because they’ve lost their jobs. Clearly many tenants are worried that they won’t be able to pay their rent, but on the other side of the coin, many landlords, who tend to be ordinary mum and dad property investors and single professionals, are concerned they won’t be able to keep up their mortgage payments. Some of these investors have been hit with a double whammy – they’ve lost their jobs and now their rental income is threatened. While these property investors are generally compassionate and don’t want to evict families in hardship, they are asking us questions like:
“What if my tenant doesn’t pay me for six months, and I can’t evict them? Then at the end of the six months’ moratorium they leave and don’t catch up the rent, yet I still have to pay for my monthly mortgage?”
There concerns are understandable and with unemployment levels expected to hit double digit figures very soon, the situation will only escalate.
What should a tenant do?
Until the government’s relief packages are made clear, the first step is to have open communication with Christie, Matt, John or David at Smart Property Manager. Talk to them and explain your situation, even if your income has reduced but not disappeared and put an action plan into place. Until details of the State Governments’ relief packages for tenants are announced, speak with your bank as all our banks have agreed to help get Australians through the current economic crisis.
What should landlords do?
Most property investors will be hit by the Corona Crunch at some time as unemployment levels rise, but this is the time for understanding and compassion – nobody wins by making things difficult for a tenant who is in financial trouble. This is a time for leniency. It’s important to understand the tenants don’t want to be in rental arrears, but if paying their rent leaves them without money for food or medical attention, the decision most tenants will make is obvious.
Fortunately, many investors will be able to fall back on their landlord’s insurance to cover some of their losses, but how the landlord deals with the situation may affect if they can claim insurance. According to some landlord insurance policies if landlords want to put measures in place to support a tenant through this difficult time, that is up to them.
However, this is how a couple of scenarios may impact landlord insurance:
Reducing rent: if a landlord agrees to reduce rent, they cannot claim for the difference in payments.
Putting rent on hold: again, if a landlord wants to suspend rent for a couple of weeks while the tenant gets back on their feet, this would not be covered as it is a mutual agreement and not an insured event.
Not issuing late notices: if this sort of leniency is given to the tenant, it will only be an issue if it comes to a claim relating to termination.
Until details of the tenant and landlord relief packages are made available, our advice is for landlords to put a payment plan in place with any tenants who are genuinely suffering financial difficulties.
This is really important:
For example, you could offer them an arrangement where they pay less rent (offer a $50, $100 or $150 reduction depending on the tenants situation, how much rent they are paying etc) for the next month, and monitor the situation month by month.
Property investors should speak to their bank about options for their mortgage repayments.
The view of the Real Estate institute of Australia
President of the REIA, Adrian Kelly while being supportive of the Government and its efforts, is disappointed with the simplistic approach of the Prime Minister’s message which ignores the tenancy arrangement and thus raises more questions than it answers.
Here’s what he had to say:
“Real estate agents are the middle persons who facilitate the agreement between landlords and tenants and manage it as well as the property.
There are some 70,000 property managers, principals, real estate agents and representatives across Australia. Tenants don’t negotiate with landlords.
Banks have already indicated that they are offering customers the option to defer home loan repayments for up to six months.
We need to address the support of agents so that what the Prime Minister wants, in terms of landlords and tenants – finding a solution to get through the crisis, can be achieved. Estate agents will work very hard to facilitate the role between landlord and tenant, and to do this they need income.
I note that National Cabinet is still to consider details. Hopefully these will come so that the Prime Minister’s objectives can be met,”
Moving forward with the Smart Property Manager, Astute Buyers Advocates and VIP Consulting teams!
Of course as more and more information comes to hand from the government with support packages over the next few days, you will be updated!
Also for some investors, those considering upgrading or downsizing, this is an exciting time to be thinking of taking action on purchasing another property as opportunities will present themselves as there is this temporary shift in the market! We have secured and sold more real estate in the last two weeks than in the previous 6 months for our clients!
If you need strategic property advice on securing the right investment to suit your individual needs, or need to plan your next move, talk to us about getting the right advice on www.astutebuyersadvocates.com.au, and we’ll ensure you will save time, money and stress along the way.
So we need to remain as strong and positive as we can for our family and kids in this very uncertain time, and together as a community we will all pull through better and stronger on the other side!
From the David & John Melatti
Licensed Estate agents & Auctioneers, property managers and buyers advocates