COVID-19 Running Blog by Beau Miller Beautique Realty
SCROLL down for what you need - the running blog is continually being updated - Beau Miller Director Beautique Realty
01/10/2020 - Moratorium on Evictions ends as from 29 September 2020,
We have received confirmation that the COVID-19 Moratorium on Evictions has ended on the 29th of September, this means that :
- No longer required to offer a fixed term agreement extension for COVID-19 impacted tenants, a tenancy can now be ended via standard tenancy regulations (Found here RTA Link to Ending a Tenancy
- Fixed term tenancies can no longer be ended without grounds (owner occupation and sale of premises which require vacant possession)
- There are no adjusted rent or bond processes that support parties to negotiate arrangements to manage COVID-19 impacts on their tenancies
- The condition for mandatory conciliation of COVID-19 related tenancy disputes through the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) has now been removed
However there are still some parts of the COVID Emergency Response that will remain. I will list these below :
- provisions allowing tenants experiencing domestic and family violence to end their tenancies quickly
- protections for tenants against being listed in a tenancy database for rent arrears caused by COVID-19 impacts
- limits on reletting costs for eligible tenants who end their fixed term tenancies early
- entry restrictions and requirements to support COVID-19 social distancing measures
- relaxed repair and maintenance obligations.
There are a number of Questions answered around this change which can be found on The Hub here : https://www.covid19.qld.gov.au/the-hub/covid-19-tenancy-update
22/08/2020 - Limits on numbers at Open Homes - effective immediately
With news of local cases, we will now limit our Open Homes to 10 people as per Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's direction . This could cause some delay in getting everyone through the houses so please be patient as we work through this.
22/07/2020 - Update on Job Keeper and Seeker
The past 3 months in Queensland for Real Estate has been easily managed with the COVID Residential Tenancies Practice Guide that was released on the HUB. As Property Managers we had clear guidelines to work with. https://www.covid19.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/126313/residential-tenancies-practice-guide-april-2020.pdf
We continue to see all Beautique tenant's doing their best to keep the rental payments up and have had less than 5% of our rental's be affected and our Arrears rate sits at less than 2%.
Unfortunately with Victoria a new hot spot for the pandemic the uncertainty for the rest of the country has prompted the need to have further government assistance granted. The Job Keeper and Job Seeker payment has been extended until March 2021 with two tiered rates being implemented.
We truly hope that this announcement will assist our clients to continue doing their best to maintain their good rental history and owners to be able to sustain the ownership of their properties.
Without private housing everyday Australians will suffer.
23/4/2020 - Update on DRAFT Guide released on the HUB tonight
How will rent deferral or rent waiver affect my landlord insurance?
We are told by the REIQ, that provided that a contractual agreement is entered into - a Form 18d with Special Terms - then there is no reason to believe that this will affect your Landlord Protection insurance.
The REIQ is in the process of preparing for us the special terms to use should you need to enter into this form of agreement with a tenant. Please check with your insurance before agreeing to a change to the contract.
- the property owner is preparing to sell the property and the preparation requires the property to be vacant or they have entered into a contract for sale of the property with vacant possession.
- The owner or a member of their immediate family needs to move into the rental property.
This will make it much easier for a property owner if they need to make this sort of decision to this affect during this period.
23/4/2020 - The HUB has been updated
In response to COVID-19, we are introducing a range of measures to support the residential rental sector:
- tenants in financial distress due to the impact of the coronavirus who cannot meet their rent commitments cannot be evicted or listed in a tenancy database for rent arrears.
- fixed term agreements due to expire during the COVID-19 pandemic will be extended to 30 September 2020 unless the tenant requests a shorter term.
- cap break lease fees for eligible tenants – household income reduced by at least 75% and savings of less than $5,000.
- owner obligations for routine repairs and inspections have been relaxed but regulatory obligations to ensure tenant safety in the rental property continue to apply.
- tenants may refuse physical entry for non-essential reasons, including routine repairs and inspections, particularly if a member of the household is a vulnerable person. However, tenants must agree to virtual inspections if physical inspections are not agreed to.
- tenants and property owners should work together to reach agreement. If agreement cannot be reached, parties are required to undertake conciliation to resolve disputes which aims to achieve conciliated agreements which form part of the tenancy agreement.
To meet the requirements for the six-month moratorium on evictions, a household is impacted if:
- A person is suffering excessive hardship due to the COVID-19 emergency if any of the following apply:
- one or more tenants or residents are afflicted by COVID-19
- they are subject to a public health direction to stay at a place
- a public health direction has closed their employment or restricted their employer’s trade or business
- they are self-isolating because they or a member of their household or a someone they are a primary carer for is a vulnerable person
- they are unable to work because of a travel restriction
- they have been prevented from returning to Australia; AND
- the person suffers a loss of income of 25% or more, OR
- the rent payable is 30% or more person’s income.
- A person is suffering excessive hardship due to the COVID-19 emergency if any of the following apply:
22/4/2020 - Bill Passed in QLD Parliament COVID-19 Emergency Response Bill 2020
The Queensland Parliament has now passed a bill that has amendments to the Residential Tenancies act. This bill has been now made available via the below link:
As an REIQ member office we are attending a Webinar on the 23rd of April to review the bill and have a plan to implement these legislative changes.
We will update our blog once we have clear direction.
Here is a link directly to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Bill 2020 : https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/tableOffice/TabledPapers/2020/5620T636.pdf
20/04/2020 - Email from Housing Minister
Ahead of this week's sitting of Parliament all that emailed the Premier received the following email :
16/4/2020 - Labor back tracks on Amendments to Residential Tenancies Act
The REIQ have launched an excellent 'Everyone Matters' campaign and so many have jumped on board in support.
It appears to be working as the Minister has released a statement saying "The Palaszczuk Government will continue to listen and work with stakeholders in the finalisation of new temporary COVID-19 tenancy measures." https://www.mickdebrenni.com.au/news-and-speeches/news-from-mick/government-continues-to-listen-on-temporary-covid-19-tenancy-measures/
This is great to hear and it looks like the message is working, and we will see a better outcome when Parliament sits on the 22nd.
To give you confidence that we are on the right track I have copied a link to the 9News recording of the original statement which is where the REIQ have based their campaign on, combined with information from 'The Hub'. Fast forward to 9:57 where the Minister states that 'A tenant cannot amass a debt', meaning if the rent is determined to be affordable only at $200 a week, when the actual rent is $400 per week, then the RTA will determine the new rent is $200, and the $200 arrears is forgone. Never payable. The landlord must take the hit. 9 News Original Statement by De Brenni Minister for Housing in Qld
I am sharing this today as I think it is important that we know the facts in this story and continue to send a factual message out there until we have a mutually agreeable decision that protects landlords and tenants during COVID-19
14/4/2020 - Everyone Matters REIQ releases templates for Urgent Review of Special COVID-19 Residential Property Protections
It is important that anyone whom recognises that Landlords are also needing to be protected at this time reads this link, and shares the message to Premier Palaszczuk’s email. This is how we will have our voice heard before Parliament sits on Wednesday 22 April 2020. Click on the link below for the steps. It is simple, and the Property market in Queensland depends on this:
Landlords, please read this letter : https://www.reiq.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/REIQ-Open-Letter-to-Landlords.pdf
14/4/2020 - Queensland Parliament sitting date announced
The Queensland Parliament website has been updated with a new sitting date of 22nd April 2020. Once Parliament has sat they will release the Notice Paper and any draft legislation relating the RTRA Act. Once I have an update on legislation I will update this blog and we can then implement a process going forward to manage any tenancy situations for the next 6 months that are affected directly by COVID-19.
14/4/2020 - RTA Releases Form 18d General tenancy COVID-19 variation agreement
The REIQ advised today that Property Managers/Owners must now use the RTA Form 18d (link below) for rent negotiations due to COVID-19. This is to be used when agreeing to a lower rent for a fixed period of time and is the only approved format to be used
9/4/20 -Special COVID-19 Protections for residential tenants and owners in Queensland
**** Note the following are the proposed and not yet passed as legislation - Parliament sits the first week after Easter and the REIQ are formulating a response as a matter of urgency ****
Today's announcement by Minster for Housing and Public Works Mick De Brenni has unveiled a package of measures to implement the freeze on evictions. We knew that this was coming. This is retrospective, and the Moratorium only applies to Rent Arrears due to financial impact arising due directly to COVID-19.
But what we didn't know is it would be announced today. The eve of Easter Friday.
Sure, great for tenant's but not the news we were wanting to hear to enable Landlords and Property Managers to relax.
Key aspects of the announcement
- If a tenant feels that are suffering hardship, then we can ask why, but we cannot ask for specific information about their finances. The RTA will be the only party able to request information on this if we are unable to come to an agreement.
- 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.
- If a tenant is unable to pay the current rent amount, a new amount may be agreed upon by both parties. This becomes the new rent amount. For example, if the rent goes from $400 per week to $200 per week, this becomes the new agreed rent and the tenant is no longer liable for the old rent amount. A specific timeframe for the reduced rent, for example 6 months or until the income loss is resolved must be specified. The minister has ensured tenant's that debt's won't accrue for tenants, and they will not be placed on a Tenancy Database.
- 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.
- The government has announced a cap on break lease penalties, as part of its response to the freeze on evictions. Tenant break lease costs will be capped at the equivalent of one week rent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Tenant's will have the right to refuse entry to the property by an owner or agent/manager for non-essential reasons (including routine inspections), particularly if they have a member of the household with a higher risk profile if exposed to COVID-19. Repairs and maintenance may be required to keep the premises safe, and in many cases can be completed in-line with social distancing rules. But showing a prospective buyer or tenant is not clear. Smoke Alarm checks have not yet been outlined if it falls under an emergency or essential repair. We await further clarification.
Please take the time to review the Residential Rental Hub released today :
In following the REIQ in tonight's Facebook Live announcement CEO Antonia Mercorella provides an update for real estate industry professionals. I have summaried and agree with her sentiments.
This announcement is ridiculous, a property owner and property manager should be able to request proof of tenant's new financial position. We do so when they are approved to live in a house, why is it unreasonable that we as the Property Manager can not ask for this when a Tenant is asking for a reduction or payment plan.
Originally the Federal Government indicated that any unpaid rent that would accumulate, would be payable, not waived. However, from the announcement today, this has yet to be defined. This is disappointing and not what we had anticipated inline with what the Federal Government announced.
Currently, in Tasmania, the unpaid rent has to be paid back. Unfortunately, Queensland has completely sided with the tenant with no protection for the Landlord or the Property Management business.
As agents, we have to manage this process carefully. If we don't get this correct it will have an affect on the property market post 2020.
The REIQ will be seeking further clarification on behalf of the Queensland Real Estate Industry. To review tonight's announcement by REIQ CEO see here:
Good news :
If a Lessor/Agent issued a Notice to Leave before 29 March 2020, that notice may still apply if it was for Arrears not COVID-19 related, or alternatively it was an approved reason.
We have received very positive feedback from our tenants and we have 10% of our Rent Roll (total number of properties under management) affected by joblessness. Most are placed well to still meet their rental obligations with the Governments Covid-19 stimulus packages such as JobSeeker/JobKeeper.
As soon as legislation is passed, I will provide a detailed summary via email to Beautique Clients and again update this running blog.
Please enjoy a wonderful Easter break we hope you have created some new traditions to make the time fun filled as a distraction from our current issues.
2/4/2020 - Rental Grant
The state government had set up a grant program that offers an emergency rental assistance payment of up to $500 a week, for up to four weeks, for Queenslanders who can not make rent.
This grant is only available to Queenslanders who need it the most and have exhausted all other options.
The COVID-19 Rental Grant is a one-off payment of up to 4 weeks rent (maximum of $2000) available to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic who do not have access to other financial assistance. The grant is paid directly to your lessor.
Eligibility Applicants must meet the following criteria:
- you live in Queensland
- you have, or will shortly have, a bond registered with the Residential Tenancies Authority
- you are an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or have a temporary or permanent protection visa or possess a bridging visa
- you do not have more than $10,000 in cash and savings
- you can provide evidence of attempts to negotiate a payment plan with your lessor
- you have lost your job and have applied to Centrelink for income support
- you are waiting for your application with Centrelink to be approved.
Extract from RTA Website : https://www.rta.qld.gov.au/
1/4/2020 - further clarification around the rent moratorium.
In Queensland if we have an issue whereby the tenant does not pay rent, then a process is followed that sometimes eventuates to the Court system. In our state our court is called the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).
QCAT have come out with an announcement today which confirmed that no rights in relation to Queensland Tenancy laws have been repealed or amended. So while there is a temporary Moratorium on Evictions no actual changes to the laws have been made.
At this stage the Prime Minister has made an announcement about a principled approach, but it is up to the Queensland state government to conduct an evaluation and implement the necessary legislative ammendments.
For now QCAT will keep determining based on the current laws, but they do intend to create laws and create them retrospectively to the 29th of March 2020 when the announcement was made.
Today the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has given some qualifications around the Moratorium. The treasurer stressed that the Moratorium is not to be interpreted as something that allows a tenant not to pay rent. Rent is payable unless a tenant can demonstrate that they are in financial stress and unable to meet rental payment obligations.
Ultimately, any unpaid rent, will need to be paid eventually.
This has given us a little more detail and understanding around what this framework will look like.
On the 30th of March the Prime Minister released a Media Statement that mentioned rental assistance payments -
Well, we're currently looking at rental assistance payments at the moment. We're also working with the states and territories when it comes to residential tenancy issues. That continues to be a matter that's a subject of work within the national cabinet right now, as you heard me say last night, there is a moratorium on evictions that would apply and be put in place by the states and territories to both commercial and residential leases. The follow on effects of that in terms of guarantees around rents and things of that nature for landlords and vice versa is a matter that's still being worked through.
The next update we expect to receive is from the National Cabinet whom have agreed to consider advice from Treasurers on commercial and residential tenancies at their next meeting on Friday 3rd April 2020.
30/3/2020 - Job Keeper Payment back dated to 1 March
This latest $130 billion dollar stimulus package directly targets sole traders and businesses to be able to keep their employees
" The payment will provide the equivalent of around 70 per cent of the national median wage.
For workers in the accommodation, hospitality and retail sectors it will equate to a full median replacement wage.
The payment will ensure eligible employers and employees stay connected while some businesses move into hibernation. "
We beleive this will
Mention was also made that a rent stimulus package was still being worked on.
30/3/2020 - REIQ Live Update regarding the Moratorium on Evictions
If you are a Landlord and trying to understand what this means to you, check out the Live Facebook video by Antonia Mercorella of the REIQ
The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) is the state’s peak professional association for real estate practitioners since 1918 of which Beautique Realty is a member.
29/3/2020 - Moratorium on Evictions
(a temporary prohibition of an activity/a suspension of activity ie. suspension of Evictions in Residential and Commercial Tenancies)
In tonight's announcement it was announced that there will be a 6 month moratorium on evictions. I have copied below the Press Release :
"Now, the National Cabinet also considered this evening issues relating to commercial tenancies as well as residential tenancies and they agreed to a series of principles which are released through the statement. But the most significant of those is that states and territories will be moving to put a moratorium on evictions of persons as a result of financial distress if they are unable to meet their commitments. And so there will be a moratorium on evictions for the next six months under those rental arrangements. Now, there is a lot more work to be done here and my message to tenants, particularly commercial tenants and commercial landlords, is a very straightforward one."
"We need you to sit down, talk to each other and work this out about looking at the businesses which have been closed, businesses that may have had a significant reduction in their revenues and we need landlords and tenants to sit down and come up with arrangements that enable them to get through this crisis so on the other side, the landlord has a tenant, which is a business that can pay rent and the business is a business that can re-emerge on the other side of this and be able to go on and employ people on the other side of these arrangements. And we want the banks to help them achieve this outcome. We want people to sit down and work this out. We will be working on measures that will be encouraging you to do just that and to support you to do just that, but also to ensure that if you aren't going to engage in that sort of cooperative activity between banks, between tenants and between landlords, then the sort of support that you might otherwise expect to receive, you will not receive. This is part of the hibernation approach where we want people bespoke, customised to their own circumstances to sit down and work these things out. There is no rulebook for this. We are in uncharted territory, but the goal should be shared. And that is a business that can reopen on the other side, not weighed down by excessive debts because of rental arrears. A landlord that has a tenant so they can continue into the future to be able to support the investments that they have made and banks that have clients, both the landlords and the businesses. The three of them working together to ensure those businesses can get through and be there on the other side.
Click here for tonight's announcement : https://www.pm.gov.au/media/press-conference-australian-parliament-house-act-13
26/3/2020 - Available resources
Current Available Resources
Centrelink information : https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/COVID19
Superannuation : ATO Early release to Superannuation
Treasury Economic Response : https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus
Fact Sheets for Households : https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/households
24/3/2020 - - Snippit from Email update to Owners and Tenants
Assistance if you have lost your income, how does that look?
This was the information we are all waiting on. But tonight we do not yet have a clear understanding.
Scott Morrison said :
". A lot of progress has been made over the course of today and over the course of this week, we'll be looking to hopefully finalise some measures. This is obviously a complicated issue because you've got a tenant, you've got a landlord, you've got creditors and all of those issues and you need to solve for the entire chain that's there. The states, working together with the Treasurer, have done some excellent work today and there's more work to be done on that. It will be considered tomorrow night at the National Cabinet. And as a first pass, talk to work through that issue and it will be considered again. But it does involve both the Commonwealth and the States working together. The States have the legislative authority when it comes to tenancies, both commercial and residential and the Commonwealth has other incentives and levers that it can pull to support and enable that chain of businesses and individuals who are caught up in that process where people are under rental stress. "
Scott Morrision explained
"Now, if you ask me who is an essential worker? Someone who has a job. Everyone who has a job in this economy is an essential worker. Every single job that is being done in our economy with these severe restrictions that is taking place is essential."
We are essential to you, and we will continue to be here in what ever capacity required. Reach out to us if you want to discuss your current situation. We are contacting all tenants one by one but this will take time. If you are in a stressed financial situation due to loss of employment then reach out and we will put you on our Priority Response List. If you are just feeling uncertain and would like to chat then reach out. We are here to help. We are in this together and you can lean on us whenever you need.
All we ask, is you help us to reduce physical contact and are patience with our response times as we juggle the current situation.
23/3/2020 - Snippit from Email update to Owners and Tenants
It has become evident that some tenant's may or have already lost their employment and are being financially impacted due to this crisis. We will contact you if we become aware of a change in your tenants circumstances.
The Prime Minister has announced that states and territories will work together to identify what measures, such as financial relief and legislative changes, can be provided to support residential tenancies in hardship conditions, this is likely to be announced on Tuesday evening 24/3/2020 . We will provide a further update to you once information comes to hand.
We will proactively reach out to all tenants to gauge their current status, this may take some time, but rest assured we will report to you as soon as we hear of any update to your tenants ability to pay rent. If you do not hear from us, then no news is good news as we may need to put all our efforts into the cases that are hit the hardest.
Paying the Mortgage
If you have been personally impacted and will be facing hardship then please reach out to us. We are here in this with you and we will do whatever we can to help you manage during this time.