I know, you must be so annoyed at seeing anything about Covid-19 by now, you just want it all to be over and life to get back to normal, albeit a “new normal”
I, and many of my landlords feel exactly the same.
We would just like to give you an insight into how we helped our current Landlords through this difficult time ensuring their investments and their income streams were protected.
Due to our very strict criteria and vetting process we have always been fortunate to secure financially stable tenants. As a result, we had 7 tenants claim hardship, and only 2 of them experienced such extreme difficulty that it resulted in job loss. Good staff are hard to find, so one of them was back in employment within 3 weeks.
Before negotiating with our Landlords to assist these tenants during this difficult time, we first ensured that they completed a Rental Assistance Request Form, providing evidence of financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19. We also assisted them to apply for all government assistance programs available at the time. We then presented all information at hand to the owners for their consideration.
If the tenant’s situation had not changed and they were not affected by COVID-19, they were expected to keep making their normal rent payments and we were still obligated in these cases to issue breach notices and follow the eviction process for non-payment of rent.
Two of our generous owners were in a position to offer tenants a small reduction in rent for a period of 4 weeks only, and we allowed no permanent rent reductions, while waiting for government assistance. Most of our owners allowed the tenants to pay less for a period of 4-8 weeks, until they started receiving Jobkeeper payments, therefore not reducing the rent at all, just allowing them extra time to pay and when they started receiving Jobkeeper payments, they started paying back the shortfall.
Fast forward to now, and all of our tenants whether they experienced ‘official hardship’ or not, have fully caught up and are back on track with normal rent payments and no arrears.
During the first 3 months when lock downs were in place and we were not allowed to conduct routine inspections, we offered the tenants the opportunity to do a Self-Inspection, through a link we provided to them where they could upload photos and make notes as required. We then went through these and asked questions if needed and provided feedback. As soon as restrictions were lifted and by agreement with tenants we have reverted back to conducting normal on-site routine inspections.
Maintenance and repairs continued with no change. The COVID-19 Tenancy Laws clearly state that all tenants are required to allow access for urgent repairs and compliance visits including smoke alarm checks. The exceptions are those households that have occupants who are sick with the virus, at high risk, or undergoing state-imposed quarantine directions.
Our trades will contact the tenants first and confirm that it is safe for both parties to allow maintenance to be carried out.
Throughout the entire process we have been keeping our Landlords and tenants up to date with developments and our procedures, keeping their investments protected and their income stream consistent.