Articles in Category: Business

General business information that may be of interest to leaders and business owners


Coronavirus - Real Estate / Property Management/ business running blog

The information provided in this blog is public and given in good faith for the benefit of the Real Estate Excellence members and the industry in general.

SCROLL down for what you need  - the running blog is continually being updated.

Stacey Holt CEO Real Estate Excellence

 The information provided is current as at time and date of each blog post.

Mental Health assistance 

Government Digital Mental Health resources for your needs here.

Articles (PDF) below

Maintaining your mental health during social isolation

Tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety

 Coronavirus: How to Protect Your Mental Health During The Covid-19 Outbreak

Tips for working from home - article links below

Basic tips to adjust to working from home

Tips for working from home

Real Estate Excellence Platinum PME and Platinum non PME member offices

Scroll down to review the Real Estate Excellence membership communication strategy during this time 27th March 7.45am.  Each time I update this blog, I post in the Real Estate Excellence members there has been an update made  (We will email members significant events). Or listen to podcast here. Watch short video for members here. As per my numerous emails to you, there are over 40 best practice Coronavirus guides, templates and more now at member online (more is being added as needed).  Information will be updated as the situation involves. Login to Member online with your office login (email us if needed for login details, there is one login per office). Go to Latest member update folder, and there you will find NEW folder Coronavirus best practice templates.  Please email us for support Members. During this time, we have extended email best practice service delivery times for Real Estate Excellence members. Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm and Saturday/Sunday 10am to 2pm.   Real Estate Excellence member offices FB group  Queensland member office private group here (Members only).

member online screen shot

Coronavirus member online

 

29th March 11.40am Information for businesses and employees and resources for General Public

Information from the Australian Government for businesses and employees here.

Information from the Australian Government for general public (resources) here.

 

Below are some quick links provided by the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business that outline the measures available to small and medium businesses, sole traders and households under the $189 billion economic support package announced by the Prime Minister:

Small or medium business with reduced cash flow?
Here’s what we’re doing to boost your cash flow. 

Is your business financially distressed?
This is what we’re doing to support you.

Assisting the economic recovery
Here’s how we’ll support you to grow.

Employ an apprentice or trainee? 
This support is for you.

Are you a sole trader that has lost business?
This is what we’re doing to support you and your business.

Household finances hit by reduced work?
Here’s what we’re doing to help support your family budget.

Payments to support households.

Business.gov.au support line: 
13 28 46

29th March 11.15am Limits on public gatherings for coronavirus (COVID-19)

Venues where a large number of people are in one place can increase the risk of spreading viruses. Find out what limits apply to public gatherings to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Read more here.

29th March 10.10am $1.1 Billion to Support More Mental Health, Medicare and Domestic Violence Services - Federal Government media release

More help will be given to millions of Australians battling the devastating impacts of coronavirus with a $1.1 billion package which boosts mental health services, domestic violence support, Medicare assistance for people at home and emergency food relief.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said more support would be rolling out immediately to deal with the secondary effects of the health and economic crisis caused by coronavirus.

“As we battle coronavirus on both the health and economic fronts with significant support packages in place and more to come, I am very aware many Australians are understandably anxious, stressed and fearful about the impacts of coronavirus and what it brings,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

“We are focused on saving lives and saving livelihoods and this new support package will provide much needed care and help to so many Australians facing hardship at no fault of their own.

“We will get through this crisis by staying together, by supporting each other and ensuring that no Australian, even though we have to be isolated, should have to go through this alone.”

Medicare support at home – whole of population telehealth

To provide continued access to essential primary health services during the coronavirus pandemic, $669 million will be provided to expand Medicare-subsidised telehealth services for all Australians, with extra incentives to GPs and other health practitioners also delivered.

Australians will be able to access support in their own home using their telephone, or video conferencing features like FaceTime to connect with GP services, mental health treatment, chronic disease management, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessments, services to people with eating disorders, pregnancy support counselling, services to patients in aged care facilities, children with autism, after-hours consultations and nurse practitioners.

Providing the opportunity to get health services at home is a key weapon in the fight against coronavirus while limiting unnecessary exposure of patients and health professionals to the virus, wherever treatment can be safely delivered by phone or videoconferencing. This will take pressure off hospitals and emergency departments and allow people to access essential health services in their home, while supporting self-isolation and quarantine policies.

The GP bulk billing incentive will be doubled for GPs and an incentive payment will be established to ensure practices stay open to provide face to face services where they are essential for patients with conditions that can’t be treated through telehealth. The new arrangements will be in place until 30 September 2020, when they will be reviewed in light of the need to continue the fight against coronavirus.

Domestic violence support

An initial $150 million will be provided to support Australians experiencing domestic, family and sexual violence due to the fallout from coronavirus.

Google is seeing the highest magnitude of searches for domestic violence help that they have seen in the past five years with an increase of 75 per cent and some services are already reporting an increase in demand.

The funding will boost programs under the National Plan to reduce Violence against Women and their Children including:

  • Counselling support for families affected by, or at risk of experiencing, domestic and family violence including men’s behaviour change programs which will provide a short, medium and longer term response to support men.
  • Support programs for women and children experiencing violence to protect themselves to stay in their homes, or a home of their choice, when it is safe to do so.
  • 1800RESPECT, the national domestic, family and sexual violence counselling service, which already answers around 160,000 calls a year.
  • Mensline Australia, the national counselling service for men that provides support for emotional health and relationship concerns for men affected by or considering using violence.
  • Trafficked People Program to support particularly vulnerable cohorts such as victims of human trafficking, forced marriage, slavery and slavery-like practices.

A new public communication campaign will roll out to support those experiencing domestic violence over this period and to ensure those affected know where they can seek help.

Minister Payne and Minister Ruston will convene a COAG Women’s Safety Council meeting on Monday to discuss with the states and territories how to best deliver this funding to support local responses to this issue.

Mental health support

An initial $74 million will be provided to support the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians.

The Government’s digital mental health portal, Head to Health (www.headtohealth.gov.au), will be a single source of authoritative information and guidance on how to maintain good mental health during the coronavirus pandemic and in self-isolation, how to support children and loved ones, and how to access further mental health services and care.

A new national communications campaign, delivered in conjunction with the National Mental Health Commission, will provide information about maintaining mental wellbeing, raise awareness of the signs of when you or a loved one needs to get additional assistance, and where to find further information, support and care.

$10 million will be provided to create a dedicated coronavirus wellbeing support line, delivered by Beyond Blue, to help people experiencing concern due to a coronavirus diagnosis, or experiencing stress or anxiety due to employment changes, business closure, financial difficulties, family pressures or other challenges. The Government welcomes an additional $5 million contribution from Medibank to Beyond Blue to support this vital initiative.

$14 million will bolster the capacity of mental health support providers who have experienced an unprecedented surge in call volumes with funding increasing their capacity, including $5 million for Lifeline and $2 million for Kids Helpline. The funding will also bolster other existing services, including digital peer-support to people with urgent, severe and complex mental illness who may be experiencing additional distress at this time.

Health workers, who will be at the frontline of the pandemic, will get dedicated mental health support through digital platforms developed to provide advice, social support, assistance in managing stress and anxiety, and more in-depth treatment without having to attend in-person sessions.

To ensure that older Australians in aged care are not socially isolated despite visiting restrictions, $10 million will be provided to the Community Visitors Scheme. The funding will mean extra staff to train volunteer visitors, who will connect with older people in aged care online and by phone, and assist older Australians keep in touch with the community and loved ones.

To help younger Australians stay on track in their education and training and prepare them for the workforce, $6.75 million will be provided to deliver the headspace digital work and study service and eheadspace. Mentors and headspace vocational specialists working in an integrated team will offer technical and life skills, providing a comprehensive digital support service for all young Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic and after.

For Indigenous Australians, whose elders and communities are particularly vulnerable to the impacts coronavirus, Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia will develop culturally appropriate mental health and wellbeing resources. These will be available and easily accessible across a range of platforms, including print, podcast, NITV, Indigenous print media and internet/social media platforms.

$28.3 million will be utilised to continue to deliver psychosocial support to Commonwealth community mental health clients for a further 12 months. This will allow additional time for people with severe and complex mental illness to complete their applications and testing for support under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Relief services for vulnerable Australians

An additional $200 million will be provided to support charities and other community organisations which provide emergency and food relief as demand surges as a result of coronavirus.

Given the unprecedented nature of the situation, emergency relief services are being heavily relied upon and this demand will increase.

The Community Support Package will provide flexible funding to boost support to services where demand is quickly increasing, including:

  • Emergency Relief which will help vulnerable Australians who need assistance with bills, food, clothing or petrol and increase and retain workforce capacity including volunteers.
  • Assistance for food relief organisations to source additional food and transport for emergency relief service providers, and rebuild workforce capacity.
  • Immediately scale-up services through the National Debt Helpline — which is often the first point of contact for people experiencing financial difficulties, and to support one-on-one tele-financial counselling.
  • Creating a short-form Financial Counselling course through Financial Counselling Australia to train new financial counsellors to boost the workforce, potentially providing hundreds of new jobs.
  • Expanding access to safe, affordable financial products through the No Interest Loan Scheme which provides an immediate financial relief alternative to other high-risk, high-interest products such as credit cards and payday loans. Liberal.org.au 

29th March 8.40am New Zealand news story Covid-19 coronavirus: Tenants found moving house during lockdown warned by police

Renters moving to a new house during the first day of the coronavirus lockdown have been told by police to stop.

"We are now starting to hear stories of tenants who are moving, armed with the advice from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development," Bindi Norwell, chief executive of the Real Estate Institute, said.

"But they are being warned by the police for unnecessary travel - again adding to the confusion around the situation. Read more here.

 

29th March 8.30 Reblog from blog post here. COVID-19 for bodies corporate

Email received by Real Estate Excellence 18th March 2020 - Update 1 www.bccm.qld.gov.au

Image

COVID-19 Communication update 18 March 2020

General information

Our office is receiving enquiries about how bodies corporate can carefully consider the impact of COVID-19 on their body corporate. This is not surprising given the nature of living in a community titles scheme.

Bodies corporate and residents should consider what steps may be appropriate within their scheme to look after the interests of all residents and workers in the scheme.

Bodies corporate and their committees have a statutory obligation to act 'reasonably'.  Actions taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic need to balance the rights of individuals with the needs of other owners and occupiers and the broader community. 

Considerations may include:

  • Reminding all residents, workers and guests of the importance of practising appropriate hygiene (such as handwashing) and social distancing.
  • Asking residents diagnosed with COVID-19—or who are required to self-isolate—to alert the body corporate so other residents can be informed and take appropriate precautions. You need to balance the requirement for reducing others’ exposure with the individual’s right to privacy.
  • any restrictions on the use of common areas (including facilities such as pools and gyms), particularly for anyone who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is required to self-isolate.
Committee meetings
  • It may be prudent for committees to avoid face-to-face meetings unless they are essential, and to practice appropriate hygiene and social distancing when meetings are held.
  • There is no legislative reason why meetings cannot be held remotely; for example, by telephone, video conference, skype and similar technologies.
  • The need for a quorum at meetings does not mean that committee members need to be present in the same room.
  • A committee can also decide to vote outside committee meetings.
General meetings
  • Bodies corporate, particularly in larger schemes, can consider deferring calling general meetings unless there is urgent or essential business to consider.
  • Bodies corporate are able to seek approval from an adjudicator for annual general meetings to be held outside the legislative timeframe, and this may be an option to consider. Please read Practice Direction 19 for further information.
  • Where meetings are held, it may be appropriate to encourage owners to only submit voting papers (or vote electronically in those bodies corporate that have approved electronic voting) rather than attending the meeting personally.
  • While the legislation requires a minimum number of persons to be 'present personally' at a general meeting to form a quorum, this will generally only be one or two persons (depending on the size of the scheme).
  • All other voters could submit written votes and potentially also participate in the meeting remotely (for example, by telephone, video conference, skype or similar technologies) if the body corporate is able to facilitate such participation.
  • Provided that bodies corporate make reasonable endeavours to comply with the legislative requirements for holding general meetings, instances of non-compliance that do not affect the voting outcomes will be unlikely to affect the validity of meetings.
  • The statutory capacity to approve expenditure above the committee spending limit with the written consent of all owners, may reduce the need to call a general meeting in some cases, particularly in smaller schemes.
  • In schemes registered under the Small Schemes and Commercial Modules there is also a capacity to approve any general meeting motion with a vote outside a meeting.
Maintenance of common property
  • A body corporate must maintain common property in good condition.
  • The body corporate may need to consider the need for additional cleaning of common areas and facilities if necessary.
Our Office

As a temporary measure, the Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management will conduct all conciliations via telephone to prevent any face to face contact or the need to travel on public transport for our clients. Otherwise it is business as usual and any changes to the status of the Office will be communicated via our Common Ground e-newsletter subscription , website and DJAG social media accounts

29th March 8.10am Article sourced from the Sunday Mail Landlord tax breaks for keeping tenants - scoll down to blog post 27th March 1.45pm for more information. 

Landlord tax breaks rents

29th March 8am Article sourced from the Sunday Mail - Cost incurred for working from home

Costs incurred for working from home

 

 

29th March 8am Article sourced from The Sunday Mail - Foreign students, Backpackers, Migrant financial supportForeign students

27th March 5pm Electrical safety office - Electrical safety working from home tips received by Real Estate Excellence

Electrical safety when working from home

COVID-19 is rapidly changing the way we live and work every day, and telecommuting (working from home), is becoming the new reality for many of us.

Home based offices are considered a workplace under work health and safety laws so it’s important for workers and employers to work together to identify and minimise work health and safety risks at home.

You must consider the following to ensure your safety at home when using electrical equipment:

  • Check to see if you have a safety switch installed and that it is operational by pressing the test button before you initially start work from home and every three months thereafter
  • Carry out a visual inspection of all electrical equipment in your home office.
    • Check for cuts, nicks or exposed conductors on any cords.
    • Check equipment for visible damage (broken covers, overheating discolouration).
    • Either discard any damaged equipment or have it repaired by an appropriately licensed electrical worker. Do not attempt to repair faulty equipment yourself.
  • Ensure leads and power boards are placed where they will not get damaged by moving furniture, chairs, foot traffic or other activities.
  • To avoid overheating and fire risks, don’t place papers or other items against air vents of equipment or cover equipment such as power boards or power supplies.
  • Don’t cover or stack up equipment under charge (e.g. phones to laptops).
  • Don’t permit children to touch or play with electrical cords and make sure electrical cords are not dangling from benches or within your child’s reach.
  • Ensure power boards and outlets are not overloaded (e.g. don’t plug in several room heaters into one power board) and are not placed where they may be splashed with liquids.

Tips to manage work health and safety telecommuting risks

  1. Consult
  • Discuss equipment, hours of work, communication methods and any concerns with the arrangement.
  • Discuss how scheduling breaks, daily routines and regular movement can minimise sedentary work.
  • Agree how to keep in touch to minimise the impact of working in isolation.
  1. Prepare
  • Use equipment and IT resources for safe and productive work.
  • Use a telecommuting checklist for workers to self-assess their home-based work area.
  • Ensure workers understand how to safely set up their workstations.
  • Use a reporting process for early intervention – injuries, hazards, incidents and changes in circumstances.
  1. Communicate
  • Implement a consultation, monitoring and review process.
  • Encourage workers to stay connected with their colleagues through team meetings, or during their breaks (e.g. have a Zoom lunch or dial-a-friend coffee break).

Resources

Further information


Further electrical information can be found at electricalsafety.qld.gov.au

 

Facebook

Follow us on Facebook for up to the minute safety news, updates and events for the electrical industry.

27th March 4.20pm Lessor wanting to offer rent free period

A number of  Real Estate Excellence members are asking the question what to do if lessor wants to openly offer tenant free rent period. Our response posted in the FB private Real Estate Excellence member group, or if not on FB as a member, please email us. Queensland member office private group here (Members only).

 

27th March 1.45 pm Notes Prime Minister media conference 1.25pm 27th March 2020

Brief notes taken by Stacey Holt from the Prime Minister media conference. 
We need to Hibernate Australian businesses – and innovate
Businesses must close their doors – either by having to keep them closed due to Government rules or simply having no business.
Support is coming from state and territories – dealing with commercial tenancies and ultimately residential tenancies. Further announcements coming. I will email members significant information. Note essential services for Queensland in the blog post below.  Added note 2.10pm - Prime Minister stated rental payment matters cannot be dealt with nationally (by the Federal Government) due to the Constitution. Residential tenancy matters must be dealt with by the relevant state/territories. "Commercial tenancies are easier to deal with". Added note 3.20pm National Cabinet will meet again on Sunday, 29 March 2020 and consider issues including responses to address Commercial and residential tenancies and health  supply arrangements.

27th March 12.45pm Email received by Real Estate Excellence by Worksafe Queensland

Prevent COVID-19 spreading when performing essential work

This week Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Education Minister Grace Grace announced that while all Queensland schools will be student-free, they’ll remain open to allow children of essential workers and vulnerable children to remain at school. These essential service workers include health workers, supermarket staff, and all other workers required in the workplace. If your work is essential, please ensure your workers are observing social distancing and good hygiene practices to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Ensure all required WHS controls are being adhered to, including the use of PPE, and if anyone is sick, send them home. Social distancing measures at work include:

  • stop shaking hands to greet others
  • keep 1.5 metres away from others as much as possible
  • avoid gatherings and meetings that aren’t essential
  • hold essential meetings outside in the open air if possible
  • promote good hand, sneeze and cough hygiene
  • provide alcohol based hand rub for all staff and workers
  • eat lunch at your desk or outside rather than in the lunch room
  • regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that many people touch
  • limit food handling and sharing of food in the workplace
  • avoid non-essential travel
  • promote strict hygiene among food preparation (canteen) staff and their close contacts.

Watch this film on social distancing: 

Coronavirus video - Social Distancing

Support and advice

27th March 9.40am QCAT hearings update QCAT COVID-19 Update www.qcat.qld.gov.au 

Last updated 27 March 2020

Summary of QCAT Practice Directions 2, 3 and 4 commencing Monday, 30 March 2020*

Three new practice directions have been issued to set out procedures across the guardianship, urgent minor civil dispute (MCD) and other QCAT jurisdictions to minimise the spread of COVID-19 virus, particularly to:

  • Provide for telephone and, in exceptional circumstances, in person hearings.
  • How material is filed, that would otherwise be filed in person at hearing.
  • Types of matters to be adjourned, until further notice.

NOTE: THESE ARRANGEMENTS DO NOT APPLY TO QCAT MATTERS HEARD BY MAGISTRATES IN REGIONAL CENTRES.

Arrangements for Guardianship matters (please refer to QCAT Practice Direction No. 2 of 2020 (Opens in new window) for more detailed instructions):

  • All hearings will be by phone or videoconferencing except in exceptional authorised circumstances.
  • Any person authorised to appear in person must sign a COVID-19 personal statement.
  • All documents to be relied on at hearing must be filed by email.

Arrangements for urgent Minor Civil Dispute Tenancy matters (please refer to QCAT Practice Direction No. 3 of 2020 (Opens in new window) for more detailed instructions):

  • Urgent MCD Tenancy hearings heard by QCAT adjudicators at 259 Queen St Brisbane and at south east Queensland Magistrates Courthouses are to be conducted by telephone except in exceptional authorised circumstances.
  • Any person authorised to appear in person must sign a COVID-19 personal statement.
  • Applications must include:
    • all material to be relied on at the hearing. (Any necessary supplementary material, eg up to date rent ledger, must be emailed to the relevant Registry by 4.00 pm on the afternoon before the hearing.)
    • the respondent’s last known address and telephone number.
  • If the respondent intends on participating in the hearing, the respondent must email the relevant Registry advising of their best contact number and attach all material they wish to rely on.

Arrangements for ALL other QCAT matters (please refer to QCAT Practice Direction No. 4 of 2020 (Opens in new window) for more detailed instructions):

  • All non-urgent Minor Civil Disputes listed for hearing are adjourned to a date to be fixed. This includes:
    • Non-urgent residential tenancy disputes
    • Minor debt disputes
    • Consumer disputes
    • Dividing fence disputes
  • In the week commencing 30 March 2020, all other hearings, including appeals, listed for hearing at 259 Queen Street, Brisbane will be by telephone or adjourned until further notice.
  • Any other hearing, including an appeal, listed for hearing at 259 Queen Street, Brisbane from 6 April 2020 will be adjourned to a date to be fixed.
  • All other hearings by QCAT members or adjudicators at south east Queensland Magistrates Courthouses from 30 March 2020 are to be adjourned to a date to be fixed.
  • Any adjourned matters will be reviewed and assessed to see if an urgent telephone hearing is required, a non-urgent telephone hearing is needed, can be decided on available material (“on the papers”), or placed on a list awaiting a new hearing date.
  • All Directions Hearings and Compulsory Conferences will be by telephone.
  • Any mediations conducted by the Dispute Resolution Branch will be by telephone. All other mediations will be adjourned to a date to be fixed.
  • To file an urgent application OTHER than a Guardianship or Urgent Minor Civil Dispute Tenancy application, first email the Registry This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to make arrangements for the filing of the application.
  • To file a non-urgent application, file in the usual manner as described on QCAT’s website: www.qcat.qld.gov.au/applications/lodging-your-application-and-forms (Opens in new window)

The changes for the current week, 23 March to 27 March, and covered by QCAT Practice Direction No. 1 of 2020 (Opens in new window) are still in place but will be superseded from 30 March 2020 by Practice Directions 2, 3 and 4.

*These changes do not apply to matters heard before Magistrates in Queensland courts. Please refer to the Queensland Courts website (Opens in new window)for information about particular locations as they may change between courts.

Health advice

For the most up to date information about COVID-19 please visit the Queensland Health website www.health.qld.gov.au (Opens in new window)

27th March 745am Communication strategy Members of Real Estate Excellence emailed 8am or  listen to podcast here.

I will no longer be posting publicly on social media moving forward at this time, and will only be posting in the private Facebook (FB) members private group. I will be updating this blog as information comes to hand for the benefit of all of industry. Real Estate Excellence Members - I will email you significant events, plus if you are on Facebook, join  Real Estate Excellence member offices FB group  Queensland member office private group here as I will be posting there to advise when I have updated the blog. Members are encouraged to keep an eye on this blog and emails which will be sent only when I deem significant matters have occurred. I will be updating best practice guides, templates and information at Member online (Platinum PME and Platinum non PME member offices) as the situation evolves and as required. We are available as per 'usual' with our best practice services. Please email us for support. NEW service delivery hours for now Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm. Saturday and Sunday 10am to 2pm via email. If you need your office login, please email. There is one login per office. Take care. 

26th March 5.20pm RTA update - COVID-19 (novel coronavirus): Information for the Queensland residential rental sector www.rta.qld.gov.au 

In response to the global novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) appreciates this is a difficult and uncertain time for many in the Queensland residential rental sector.

The situation and advice from government authorities on the COVID-19 situation is evolving with the emergent nature of the pandemic.

The RTA is unable to give specific direction from a legislative perspective as the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 does not specifically address pandemic situations. However, we are in uncertain times and will await direction from the Federal and State Governments.

All parties in a tenancy should be aware of their rights and responsibilities under the Act, which have not changed at the time of publication.

However, the RTA suggests all parties be understanding and reasonable in their dealings with each other during this unprecedented situation.

Where a tenancy is impacted by the evolving situation, all parties – tenants, property managers and owners – are encouraged to consider each situation individually, talk to each other to negotiate a suitable outcome, document any decisions made, and adhere to any government and/or health agency requirements.

For the latest health information and advice regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus), please visit the Queensland Health website or the Australian Government Department of Health website, which includes coronavirus resources such as a home isolation and care fact sheet.

On the latest government announcements

The Prime Minister announced on 24 March 2020 that real estate auctions, auction houses and gatherings of people in auction rooms, and open house inspections are no longer permitted as of midnight on 25 March. Private appointments for inspections are allowed

The Prime Minister also announced that there will be another National Cabinet meeting on 25 March 2020 and this meeting would consider other issues including leases. When further information regarding residential tenancies in hardship due to COVID-19 is available, the RTA will update its website and eNews subscribers.

As noted above, open house inspections are no longer permitted as at midnight of 25 March. With regards to other specific circumstances that may occur in a tenancy at this time, the RTA offers the following suggestions.

Routine inspections

If there is an opportunity to postpone or reschedule inspections to a time where all parties are comfortable, this is the best way to minimise risk. Alternatively, parties could discuss the possibility of conducting virtual inspections via photos or video calls, but any decisions should be mutually agreed and documented. All parties should advise each other early of any health, safety or financial impacts if the inspection does or doesn’t occur.

Entry to the property

Property managers/owners must comply with the rules of entering rental premises under the RTRA Act. Penalties apply for unlawful entry.

Before organising for anyone to enter the property, ask if any person planning to enter the property, or any person they are close to, is self-isolating, has been out of the country within the last 14 days, or is generally unwell.

All parties should adhere to Queensland Health’s directives as listed on its website.

If the tenant indicates that they have been overseas in the last 14 days, are feeling unwell or are self-isolating, it is recommended entry does not take place.

If an agent/tradesperson/potential buyer indicates the same, they should reconsider the need to enter the property.

If relevant persons indicate they are not at risk, normal entry notice periods apply. A tenant is not required to be present during the entry. All parties should consider how to minimise the potential for tension or stress on each other by communicating openly, understanding each other’s circumstances and developing an acceptable solution

For emergency repairs, consideration should be given to safety or impact to the tenant or owner should the repairs not be carried out. 

Paying rent

The Act doesn’t address pandemic situations, but we are in uncertain times and will await direction from the Federal and State Governments.

It is suggested that all parties proactively advise each other of any health, safety or financial impacts that may impact the tenancy, and be understanding and reasonable in their dealings with each other.

Parties are encouraged to act reasonably, communicate and mitigate loss or inconvenience to each other.

It is important to be clear in all communications, document any agreements made, and keep each other updated if circumstances change.

All parties should consider how to minimise the potential for tension or stress on each other by communicating openly, understanding each other’s circumstance and developing an acceptable solution.

Getting contracts signed or handing over keys

It is suggested that agents and prospective tenants protect themselves in accordance with Queensland Health’s advice, which includes social distancing to at least 1.5 metres, avoiding physical contact such as shaking hands, practicing good hygiene measures, and avoiding anyone who is unwell or self-isolating.

For tenancy information or support services, please explore our website or contact the RTA on 1300 366 311.

Quick links: Related RTA tenancy information

Other resources that may be helpful to the Queensland residential rental sector

  • The Federal Government’s economic response is on the Treasury website, as outlined by the Prime Minister on 22 March.
  • For details of the State Government’s economic relief package, please visit the Queensland Government’s website.
  • The State Government announced a $24.7 million housing and homelessness package on 25 March, and confirmed their Homeless Hotline is available to vulnerable Queenslanders.
  • See this update for details of new arrangements at the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) from the week commencing 23 March 2020.
  • For Queenslanders in self-isolation, advice, information and support can be accessed on Queensland Health’s website and through the Queensland Government’s Community Recovery Hotline.
  • For student support resources, please visit Study Queensland or contact your university/education provider’s student services team.
  • For updates and resources for the community sector, please visit the QCOSS website Community Door
  • For tenants and residents who would like more information, Tenants Queensland has published a fact sheet on its website.
  • For information on how housing providers and homelessness services can best support their staff, clients and tenants, please visit the The Deck by Q Shelter.

26th March 1.45pm Coronavirus: Australians demand freeze on rent, mortgage payments

Hundreds of thousands of concerned Australians have called on the government to suspend household payments during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a Change.org petition addressed to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Melbourne man David Buchler urged the government to follow Italy’s lead by suspending mortgage repayments, rent and utility bills to “soften the economic blow” facing households and small businesses. Read the article here.

26th March 10.45am Update from the Residential Tenancies Authority Queensland RTA www.rta.qld.gov.au 

The RTA acknowledges the Prime Minister’s announcement on 24 March 2020 that the National Cabinet would meet on 25 March to discuss issues including rent. This follows the Prime Minister’s announcement on 20 March 2020 regarding residential tenancies in hardship due to COVID-19.

Unfortunately, we do not have any further information at this time. We encourage you to visit our COVID-19 information page for the latest updates and helpful resources. You can also subscribe to our eNews.

On 24 March, the Prime Minister also announced that real estate auctions, auction houses and gatherings of people in auction rooms, and open house inspections are not to continue from midnight 25 March 2020. Private appointments for inspections are allowed.

 For the latest COVID-19 information, visit Queensland Health’s website or the Australian Government’s website.

For details on the State Government’s economic relief package, please visit the Queensland Government’s website. For details on the Federal Government’s economic support package for workers, households and businesses, visit the Australian Government website.

 Please note: Due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the RTA is currently experiencing longer wait times across our customer and support services. We thank you for your patience.

26th March 9.45am Are banks freezing mortgages? Here are the banks putting payments on hold amid coronavirus

With many businesses and services forced to close under the latest Federal Government restrictions to try to curb the spread of coronavirus, many Australians are feeling the pinch when it comes to finances. Especially those with a mortgage.

At least 1 million Australians are facing unemployment as a result of the crisis.

It has many wondering what the banks are doing when it comes to home loans.

Will mortgages be put on hold?

The big four banks have all announced that their customers will be able to pause mortgage payments. Read the article here.

26th March 9am Sydney Morning Herald article - rental properties and rent

Landlords will be blocked from evicting tenants in a rental rescue package aimed at protecting people who struggle to pay their rent during the coronavirus crisis.

State governments are working on extraordinary interventions to protect up to eight million Australians in rented homes, as the property sector warns of a "disastrous" outcome if rental payments come to a halt. Read article here.

26th March 2.30am National Cabinet Meeting update

The Prime Minister, state and territory Premiers and Chief Ministers continued their meeting on 25 March as the National Cabinet to discuss enhanced health measures to support our efforts to quickly test and contact trace coronavirus in our community. Read the update here.

There is no information in the update regarding any tenancy law changes. New South Wales have made amendments to tenancy law. Read more here. Tasmania have proposed laws. Read more here.  The National Cabinet meet again Friday 27th March 2020.

25th March 11am PRIME Minister media

The Australian Prime Minister just spoke at a media conference and has advised the National Cabinet are meeting again tonight regarding matters they did not get to last night, and other matters. He does not expect to make any announcement tonight after the meeting. This means that most likely further announcements and changes will be made tomorrow. The National Cabinet is a newly formed cabinet made up of all Premiers, Chief Ministers and includes the Prime Minister making these national decisions.  I will update my running blog as more information comes to hand. 

25th March 5am Prime Minister announcement re open homes

Information sourced from Australian Prime Minister website. Link below. Private appointments are currently exempt. Real Estate Auctions and open house are not permitted. Private inspection are permitted. Industry and Members continue to practice usual social distancing rules and protocol for inspection. More information at Member online.   Listen to short podcast here. Watch short video here. These provisions apply from 11.59pm 25th March 2020. Essential services is still not defined but the Prime Minister stated verbally “if you have a job, you are an essential service”.   The Prime Minister website states Australians should stay at home, unless shopping for essentials, travelling to and from work - where you cannot work from home, going to school and exercising. Keep visitors to your home at a minimum. In outdoor spaces do not congregate in groups. 

Review PM statement here.

Not Permitted

Real estate auctions and open house inspections

   Exempt

   Private appointments    for inspection

24th March 3.30pm - Email sent to Queensland free mailing list - essential services - proposed tenancy laws and more

Part of email sent below

Good afternoon

I am writing to all of our Queensland mailing list – Real Estate Excellence member offices and non-members.

The newly formed national cabinet is meeting tonight and we are expecting an update after this meeting regarding possible tenancy laws for this challenging period. My running blog has some information you may wish to review for now.

Please note attached given to you all and Real Estate Excellence members, I have just loaded to member online in the NEW Coronavirus best practice folder (as per below and other emails sent to member offices). It is the Prime Minister statement regarding stage one and all we all know as Australians regarding the lockdown and so called essential services. Attachment here.

24th March 1.30pm Real estate industry demands more government support for renters, landlords amid coronavirus crisis

Renters will need much more support through the coronavirus pandemic, real estate industry experts have warned, foreshadowing that many may not be able to afford keep a roof over their head.

Many want much more offered in the rental assistance package due to be handed down on Tuesday night when the national cabinet meets. Read the article here.

24th March 1pm Queensland Government unveils $4 billion package to support health, jobs, households and Queensland businesses

The Palaszczuk Government will invest an additional $4 billion in measures to support Queenslanders’ health, their jobs and businesses. Read more here.

24th March 8.30am  New Zealand tenancy law changes

Some of New Zealand's 1.5 million tenants in about 600,000 properties are about to get huge support from the Government because landlords will be banned from increasing rents and their rights to evict tenants will be severely limited. Click here to review the article. 

23rd March 4.15pm Rent reduction best practice suggested policy updated to version 2

Real Estate Excellence Platinum PME and Platinum non PME Member offices

I’ve just updated the rent reduction suggested best practice policy (now version 2) to include Queensland law which states rent cannot
Be increased in a six month period. The updated suggested guide is uploading now and will be live soon (or email us).

If rent is decreased and a new fixed term agreement entered into (which is recommended), rent cannot be increased for six months.

 23rd March 3pm What tenancy advocates in Australia are requesting

To: Prime Minister, Premiers, and Chief Ministers
From: [Your Name]

The COVID19 epidemic is a public health crisis that will be made worse by evictions.

The COVID19 epidemic is causing significant economic harm through the cancellation of events, the disruption of supply chains, and a general reduction in public activity and commerce. Many workers, especially contractors and casual workers, will suffer from lost incomes. Many will fall into rent arrears and be at risk of termination and eviction. People facing eviction are less able to take actions required to minimise transmission of COVID19, particularly where they become homeless, and will become more vulnerable to illness.

An eviction into homelessness at this time puts great pressure on families and communities in overcrowded homes, crisis accommodation and people sleeping rough. Support services will already be struggling to deal with increased demand and as a community we cannot afford to make it worse.

We call on the Australian Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to ensure no evictions happen during this crisis.

* Police and court officers should be directed not to carry out or allow any evictions
* Public and community housing providers should immediately cease eviction
proceedings against their tenants
* All relevant Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers should make public
statements calling on landlords not to begin proceedings to evict any tenant and to
offer leniency on arrears
* Housing departments and councils need to work with shared accommodation
providers, including boarding and rooming house operators, to ensure residents are
not evicted into more severe homelessness and that their accommodation is healthy
* This would not apply to individuals removed for perpetrating violence.

A temporary eviction moratorium is a necessary measure to prevent the spread of COVID19. The economic costs will need to be shared across the community. Before the stop on evictions is lifted, governments must have a plan to ensure the whole community can recover, and not leave some burdened with debt.

Australia is in crisis. We need to come together and ensure no one loses their home.

Read more here.

23rd March 3pm  How to ensure business continuity during social isolation 

The escalation of COVID-19 means social distancing is a necessity and Australian business owners are looking at how their operations will survive. But how can you enact continuity plans to allow staff to work from home so business can continue as usual?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends business owners develop contingency and business continuity plans to prepare for employees being required to work from home. Working from home may be necessary due to local travel restrictions, illness or at-risk health conditions. Continue reading this article here.

23rd March 1.45pm RTA announcement

The RTA acknowledges the Prime Minister’s announcement on 20 March 2020 regarding residential tenancies in hardship due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, we do not have any further information at this time. As soon as more information is provided, we will update our website and eNews subscribers. You can subscribe here.

 On 22 March, the Prime Minister announced an economic support package for workers, households and businesses. Learn more and see if you’re eligible.

For the latest COVID-19 information, visit Queensland Health’s website or the Australian Government’s website.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the RTA is currently experiencing longer wait times across our customer and support services. We thank you for your patience.

We are a state government statutory authority that helps make renting work for everyone.  www.rta.qld.gov.au (Source) 

23rd March 11.30am Novel coronavirus small business support (QLD)

For information regarding Queensland small business support from the Government, click here. 

23rd March 10.30am - Changes to rental laws

I will update my blog as more information regarding possible and or changes to Queensland tenancy legislation comes to hand.

Quote from Australian Prime Minister 20th March Media conference

"States also agreed today, and further work will be done on this, are working to identify how relief can be provided for tenants in both commercial tenancies and residential tenancies to ensure that in hardship conditions there will be relief that will be available and ensuring the tenancy legislation is protecting those tenants over the next six months at least. That work will be done by states and territories as it is a state and territory matter, and that work will be led by Western Australia, together with New South Wales, working with all the other states and territories to bring back some model rules that can be applied in hardship cases. So understanding what the trigger might be and how in those circumstances that tenants would be able to maintain their tenancies. Now I know that will mean something for landlords, just as the decision taken today means something for banks, just like the decisions we have already taken as a Commonwealth Government means things for our balance sheets and as a people for the Commonwealth Government as it does for the states. It will also mean something for those, who sadly, might be stood down from their employment and have to look at their annual leave arrangements and sick leave arrangements. All Australians are going to be making sacrifices obviously, in the months ahead, and everyone does have that role to play and that will include landlords, at the end of the day for people who are enduring real hardship." Read more here.

22nd March 1.30pm Email sent to our free Queensland mailing list

As per my email Friday 1pm.  I am going to continue updating my running blog here. The blog now includes what is happening with QCAT hearings, the Federal Government packages for individuals (such as tenants) and businesses like your as released at 11am today.  Keep an eye on my running blog as these days go by as I will continue updating here. (At this blog) There is information for you personally, links to share with tenants, lessors, buyers, sellers and more.  

Real Estate Excellence member offices ( as this email is being sent to all of our mailing list in Queensland)

Over the weekend I have updated the Member Online new folder in the latest member update folder. Coronavirus best practice templates to includes a contractor template. More will come as needed and able.

Take care, and please I hope my words assist, we will get through this. It is ok to have a meltdown, just do not stay there.  I am not too proud to say I have had a little cry here and there, and it is ok. It is ok to not be ok but hope dies last. We will get through this, together.  You may wish to follow my social media pages as well during this time. Instagram @staceyholtrealestateexcellence 

 Real Estate Excellence member offices FB group  Queensland member office private group here

Listen to Property Management Excellence PME free podcasts 

Facebook page links below

Property Management Excellence  

  Stacey Holt Real Estate Excellence 

Queensland property management training - Stacey Holt

 

PART of Email sent to all of our mailing list Friday 1pm

The Government has released a special Coronavirus assistance package for people affected. Click here to access the information and link to give to tenants and or people in need. 

It’s tough days for all of us. Property managers are facing difficult times with their legal duty to act for their lessor client and taking their instructions relating to tenant and arrears.

It’s truly dreadful and uncertain times. If lessors instruct to follow normal procedures, property managers of course must act accordingly.  Rent reductions are an option if able. As per my email to Real Estate Excellence members at noon today, please refer to suggested policy fact sheet on this matter (and more as provided). Ensure new tenancy agreement are entered into and procedures are followed to end the existing agreement. Refer to member fact sheet or seek advice from your preferred advisor.

Tenants (and others) who are losing jobs and income should be advised to urgently contact Centrelink and other Government organisations to assist them financially. The Government has released a special Coronavirus assistance package for people affected. Click here to access the information and link to give to tenants and or people in need. 

Continue reading the above article and more here.

22nd March 1pm QCAT hearings update

QCAT hearing update - more information here. NON Urgent hearings postponed. Click on the link above for more information from QCAT.

22nd March 11am Australian Government Economic Response to the Coronavirus

To review below, click here.

government response 22

 

To review above, click here.

Coronavirus Supplement - Australian Government

On 22 March 2020, the Government announced it will provide a temporary Coronavirus Supplement of $550 a fortnight to new and existing income support recipients from 27 April 2020 for six months. People will receive their usual payment plus $550 each fortnight for the six month period.
The Coronavirus Supplement will be provided to people receiving:

  • JobSeeker Payment
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Youth Allowance for jobseekers
  • Parenting Payment Partnered
  • Parenting Payment Single
  • Partner Allowance
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Farm Household Allowance.

Click here for more information. 

21st March 6am  Mortagee affected people and the big 4 banks

The big four banks are letting borrowers hit pause on their payments, but this is no mortgage holiday. Read article here.

As announced by our Prime Minister, and as advised in my blog at 1pm yesterday (and emailed to our free mailing list), there is some announcement coming over the weekend regarding rent relief for tenants.

After watching the ABC "The Drum" last night and listening to a consumer lawyer, it was indicated there may be a possible amendment made to all tenancy laws in Australia regarding the 'rent relief'. As we all know, there are individual tenancy laws in all Australian state and territories. It was interesting to hear this and of course is now just a matter for us all to see what happens next in this regard. 

20th March 1pm Rent arrears and property management 

The Government has released a special Coronavirus assistance package for people affected. Click here to access the information and link to give to tenants and or people in need. 

It’s tough days for all of us. Property managers are facing difficult times with their legal duty to act for their lessor client and taking their instructions relating to tenant and arrears.

It’s truly dreadful and uncertain times. If lessors instruct to follow normal procedures, property managers of course must act accordingly. Rent reductions are an option if able. As per my email to Real Estate Excellence members at noon today, please refer to suggested policy fact sheet on this matter (and more as provided).

Tenants who are losing jobs and income should be advised to urgently contact Centrelink and other Government organisations to assist them financially. The Government has released a special Coronavirus assistance package for people affected. Click here to access the information and link to give to tenants and or people in need. 

As hard as it is, lessors have insurance and their own mortgages to pronk. tect. Leniency with rent arrears could jeopardise any future insurance claims of default. 

Very few lessors could afford to sustain their own mortgages and costs by waiving rent. If they could, I’m sure most would.

There’s no winner here for now. Hoping the 2nd Federal Government stimulus package offers some consideration during this crisis which will end. The question is not knowing when it will end. (Not known at time of writing this blog at 1pm March 20 2020). UPDATED 2pm 20th March 2020 - Rental relief coming for tenants, read here.

 Thoughts with all. Tough times, tough decisions and what makes it tougher, is we are dealing with fellow human being going through terrible times.

As of today, and during this time,Real Estate Excellence members best practice support services are 7 days per week, 7am to 7pm. I kindly ask and remind as per membership agreement terms to email for best practice advice and support. Phone if need for emergency. Thank you for your understanding. I hope you are not working these hours and have made this decision to cater for members working different hours and with differing needs.

We will get through these uncertain times. The uncertain includes just not knowing when that will be. It will end.

Short podcasts rent arrears and another rent reductions – listen here or search Stacey Holt or Property Management Excellence on your preferred podcast platform.

Real Estate Excellence members

Please refer to our rent arrears suggested best practice policy and templates if needed, and as per email sent to all Members at noon 20th March 2020, the rent reduction suggested policy. 

www.realestateexcellemce.com.au/memberonline - access at Member Online. Login and go to Latest Member Update folder and then NEW folder call Coronavirus best practice templates (Platinum PME and Platinum non PME member offices). More will come as needed. Screen shot as at 20th March 2020.

Coronavirus best practice

The Employment Law Implications of COVID-19

COVID-19 - Employment Law Implications Email sent to www.realestatexcellence.com.au from Carter Newell Lawyers

Andrew Shute, Partner and Lara Radik, Special Counsel

The World Health Organisation has declared COVID-19 (the Novel Coronavirus) a pandemic. So what does that mean for employment rights and obligations?

March 2020 (email received by Real Estate Excellence 18th March 2020)

At the outset, please note the following in respect of the information in this alert:

  • It is current at the time of publishing. Due to the rapidly evolving nature of the guidance surrounding self-isolation, it is prudent to regularly check the information available on the Fair Work Ombudsman website and the Department of Health website;
  • It is general in nature. Additional rights or obligations may arise under an award, enterprise agreement, employment contract or workplace policy applying to a particular employment relationship. It also remains possible that Parliament may enact legislation to address the impact of COVID-19 in respect of employment matters;
  • It does not apply to contractors. Where a business has engaged contractors, the terms of the contract should be considered on a case by case basis in determining whether the contractor’s services can be varied, suspended or terminated.

What happens if an employee tests positive for coronavirus?

It is important that employers seek immediate advice from health authorities if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the workplace. Employees who have contracted the virus cannot attend the workplace, and the employer can direct the employee to stay away from work and to obtain medical clearance before returning to the workplace. In making such directions, employers should ensure their actions are reasonable in the circumstances and are supported by medical evidence or advice.

Full time and part time employees who have contracted COVID-19 are entitled to paid sick leave for the duration of their incapacity for work (assuming the employee has sufficient accrued personal leave).

An employer is entitled to request a medical certificate or other evidence of the employee’s incapacity for work.

What happens if an employee’s family member tests positive for coronavirus?

If a member of an employee’s household or immediate family has contracted the virus and requires care, the employee is entitled to paid personal (i.e. carer’s) leave (assuming the employee has sufficient accrued personal leave).

The Fair Work Act further contemplates that paid personal leave is available when a member of an employee’s household or immediate family requires care or support because of an unexpected emergency affecting the member. In circumstances where an emergency has been declared in several Australian states and territories, it is arguable that employees are entitled to paid personal leave in order to support any members of their household or immediate family affected by COVID-19 (regardless of whether the member of their household or immediate family is ill).

An employee in these circumstances will be required to self-isolate in any event (discussed in further detail below) and should be permitted to work from home or use their accrued leave entitlements for the duration of the self-isolation period.

Whilst an employer cannot force an employee to take paid personal leave, the employee is not entitled to be paid unless they use their paid leave entitlements.

Casual employees are entitled to two days of unpaid personal (i.e. carer’s) leave per occasion when a member of their household or immediate family requires care and should be permitted to decline shifts for the duration of any self-isolation period.

An employer is entitled to request a medical certificate or other evidence to support an employee’s request for personal leave.

What happens if an employee is stuck overseas or is unable to return to work due to quarantine or self-isolation?

Where an employee was sent overseas for work, and is prevented from returning to Australia, the affected employee will be entitled to full pay.

Where an employee is stuck overseas following personal travel, they are not entitled to be paid unless they rely on paid leave entitlements. At an employer’s discretion, the employer may permit the employee to work remotely from overseas or may negotiate paid or unpaid leave arrangements.

All people entering Australia from midnight on 15 March 2020 are required to self-isolate for 14 days. The Fair Work Act does not specifically cover these circumstances, so it is advised that an arrangement be negotiated between the employer and the employee. Such arrangements may include:

  • Permitting an employee to work from home or another location;
  • Permitting an employee to access any accrued leave entitlements; and
  • Any other paid or unpaid leave arrangement (including, for example, allowing employees to take annual leave in advance of accrual).

Any person who has been in close contact1 with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 must self-isolate at home and cannot return to work until receiving medical clearance. As explained above, such an employee may be entitled to access paid personal (i.e. carer’s) leave. If paid personal leave is not available or not appropriate (for example, because the employee lives alone and had close contact with a friend who tested positive for COVID-19), work from home or leave arrangements should be negotiated between the employer and the employee.

What happens if an employee chooses to stay home as a precautionary measure?

Any person who has been in casual contact2 with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 may continue to attend work while they remain well. Any such person will be required to self-isolate if they begin to experience symptoms.

Employees who choose to stay home following a casual contact or for other precautionary reasons may seek to negotiate an arrangement with their employer taking into account what is reasonably practicable in the circumstances (such as working from home). Alternatively, the employee may choose to take some form of unpaid or paid leave. In this case, normal leave application processes will apply. If the employee is not relying on paid leave entitlements, the employee is not entitled to be paid.

An employee does not have an entitlement to stay home or refuse to perform work unless the employee has a reasonable concern about a serious risk to their health or safety from immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard. Employers should take a common-sense approach to any such scenario, including consideration as to whether:

  • The employee is in a high risk category; or
  • The employee is in regular contact with a person in a high risk category.

It will almost always be unreasonable for an employer to refuse an employee’s request to stay home on a precautionary basis if the employee is willing to take unpaid leave for the duration of their absence.

Can an employer direct an employee to stay away from work as a precautionary measure?

The model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws do not expressly permit an employer to direct a worker to stay away from work as a precautionary measure. The WHS laws do, however, require employers to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure the health and safety of their workers and others at the workplace. This duty requires identifying risks at the workplace and doing what is reasonably practicable to eliminate or minimise those risks. In other words, employers are required to undertake a risk assessment taking into account all of the relevant information from the health authorities and the prevailing circumstances at the workplace.

Depending on the circumstances, directing workers and other people to stay away from the workplace as a precautionary measure may be considered a reasonably practicable step in eliminating or minimising the risk of the virus spreading, as well as minimising other risks that may be created by the virus (including physical, psychological or other harm). Particularly where employees have the ability to work from home, a risk assessment conducted by the employer may point towards a requirement that all such employees work remotely.

In other circumstances, directing employees to stay away from work may not be reasonably practicable, particularly where employees do not have the ability to work from home. In these circumstances, there may be other controls an employer may implement in order to minimise the risk of the virus spreading (including increased cleaning arrangements, and supply of hand sanitizer, gloves, etc.) and minimising other risks created by the virus (including more regular paid breaks, provision of counselling to employees, etc.).

In deciding what steps are reasonably practicable in a particular workplace, it is essential that the employer:

  • considers the specific context of the workplace; and
  • consults with employees about the most suitable approach to be taken to minimise the risk presented by COVID-19.

What should an employer consider when directing employees to work from home?

In addition to conducting a risk assessment (as outlined above), employers should review their obligations under any applicable enterprise agreements, awards, employment contracts or workplace policies. Employers should consider the nature of the work, and whether it is suitable for the employee to do at home. Employers should be aware that WHS laws still apply when an employee is working from home, and employers must therefore take reasonably practicable steps to ensure home workspaces are without risks to health and safety.

What if I need to make employees redundant or reduce working hours?

All awards and enterprise agreements impose obligations on employers to consult with employees prior to any major changes, such as redundancies or reduced hours. These consultation processes require the employer to provide written notice to any award or agreement-covered employees who are likely to be affected by the changes, and to have open discussion about steps that could be taken to avoid or minimise the impact of the changes on employees.

Avenues which should be explored in order to avoid or minimise the impact of redundancies or reduced hours may include:

  • Inviting employees to volunteer for redundancies or reduced hours; and
  • Inviting employees to voluntarily take paid or unpaid leave.

Can an employer enforce a shut down period or stand down employees without pay?

A shut down is when a business temporarily closes during slow periods of the year, such as Christmas and New Year. Some awards or enterprise agreements allow for more than one shut down period per year. Employers should consult the applicable award or enterprise agreement governing their business to check whether an additional shut down period is allowed. During a shut down period, employers can direct their employees to take annual leave (or unpaid leave if an employee has exhausted their annual leave entitlements).

An employer may stand down an employee during a period in which the employee cannot usefully be employed due to circumstances outside of the employer’s control. In these circumstances, section 524 of the Fair Work Act allows an employer to stand down an employee without pay. It is likely that any unpaid stand down due to COVID-19 will be closely scrutinised, so employers should exercise caution and seek advice before doing so.

Can an employer direct employees not to travel?

Employers can direct employees not to engage in work-related travel. In normal circumstances, however, it is unlikely that employers will be able to direct an employee not to engage in personal travel. In the context of COVID-19, it is reasonable for an employer to require an employee to abide by any limitations on travel imposed by the Australian Government.

Can an employer refuse an annual leave request if an employee is planning to travel overseas?

Pursuant to section 88 of the Fair Work Act, an employer can refuse an employee’s annual leave request if the refusal is reasonable. If an employee is planning to travel overseas during a period of annual leave, there is a strong argument that an employer could reasonably:

  • refuse the annual leave request on the basis of operational requirements, noting the employee will need to comply with the mandated 14 day self-isolation period imposed by the Australian Government for people entering Australia; or
  • make approval of the leave request conditional on the employee’s agreement to take either annual leave or unpaid leave for the duration of the mandated 14 day self-isolation period (if work from home arrangements cannot be facilitated).

What entitlements do employees have if schools or child care centres are closed?

The Fair Work Ombudsman is yet to issue any guidance on this issue. Ideally, employees should be permitted to work from home. If this is not possible (either because the employment is not suited to work from home arrangements, or because the presence of children in the house will inhibit the employee’s ability to complete their work), employees will likely be entitled to access any accrued personal (i.e. carer’s) leave entitlements. As outlined above, an employee is entitled to paid personal leave where a member of the employee’s immediate family or household requires care or support because of an unexpected emergency. Noting several state and territory governments have declared a state of emergency, there is a strong argument that any closure of schools or child care centres will result in a need to care for a child due to an unexpected emergency.

Once any personal leave entitlements are exhausted, the employee would be entitled to any accrued annual leave. In the absence of that, the employee would be required to take unpaid leave.

Can an employee make a workers’ compensation claim if they contract coronavirus in the workplace?

The workers’ compensation schemes differ across states and territories. There are, however, some common elements that would apply to COVID-19. These include the following prerequisites for a valid claim:

  • The worker is covered by the scheme;
  • The worker has an injury or illness covered by the scheme; and
  • The worker’s injury or illness arose out of, or in the course of, their employment.

Whether a claim for contracting COVID-19 will be covered by workers’ compensation will depend on the individual circumstances of the case and the applicable state or territory law. In many circumstances, it will be difficult for an employee to prove that the virus was contracted in the course of employment. This difficulty will be amplified as confirmed cases grow and the spread of the virus through social contact continues.

.....

1 There is a broad definition of close contact, which includes having more than 15 minutes face-to-face contact with a confirmed case, spending more than two hours in an enclosed space with a confirmed case, living in the same household as a confirmed case, and having direct contact with the body fluids of a confirmed case. Ordinarily, health authorities will contact all identified close contacts of persons who test positive to COVID-19 to enforce self-isolation measures.
2 A casual contact occurs where a person has had less than 15 minutes face-to-face contact with a confirmed case in the 24 hours prior to the onset of their symptoms, or who has shared a close space with a confirmed case for less than two hours in the 24 hours prior to the onset of their symptoms.

This article may provide CPD/CLE/CIP points through your relevant industry organisation.

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus): Information for the Queensland residential rental sector

From the RTA website - updated 26th March 2020 www.rta.qld.gov.au

Refer to RTA website for any updates to this information.

The RTA acknowledges the Prime Minister’s announcement on 24 March 2020 that the National Cabinet would meet on 25 March to discuss issues including rent. This follows the Prime Minister’s announcement on 20 March 2020 regarding residential tenancies in hardship due to COVID-19.

Unfortunately, we do not have any further information at this time. We encourage you to visit our COVID-19 information page for the latest updates and helpful resources. You can also subscribe to our eNews.

On 24 March, the Prime Minister also announced that real estate auctions, auction houses and gatherings of people in auction rooms, and open house inspections are not to continue from midnight 25 March 2020. Private appointments for inspections are allowed.

 For the latest COVID-19 information, visit Queensland Health’s website or the Australian Government’s website.

For details on the State Government’s economic relief package, please visit the Queensland Government’s website. For details on the Federal Government’s economic support package for workers, households and businesses, visit the Australian Government website.

 Please note: Due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the RTA is currently experiencing longer wait times across our customer and support services. We thank you for your patience.

Property Management Excellence (PME) training podcast series

FREE training from Stacey Holt - listen in your car, in the office, anytime.

Property Management Excellence Stacey Holt  podcasts are available on most podcast apps such as Apple, Google, Spotify. Search Property Management Excellence or Stacey Holt to find the podcasts on the App of your choice as mentioned above. 

Property Management Excellence training podcasts  - Listen here

 Podcast topics include the following with many more avaiable. 

Welcome podcast and what the podcast is all about (first podcast released) 

Not all business is good business - why we should sometimes say no thanks

Tips for dealing with vacant property

Do people buy people or do people buy a brand?

Dealing with difficult people; tips for PM’s 

Without people we have no business

Income producing vs non income producing activites

Electronic signatures and tenancy lease contracts

Queensland smoke alarm laws for rental property

How do people find your agency? Online presence 

McDonald's and property management

Entry condition report - if the tenant does not return within the legislative time frames

Desperate professionalism in property management

Property management isn't difficult; people can be. The big C.

To do today, to do tomorrow, to do eventually. Tasks and time mangement tips for property managers.

New business tip - do your own podcasts

The egg timer property manager

New business tip - the first 24 hours after listing

Don't make or take a phone call without this system - tips for property managers

New business tip - has your agency got a You Tube account?

Minimum housing standards for Queensland rental property

I hope the title property manager dies before I do

Tips for Property Management Excellence success

Rules of entry; a tenants' home. Know the law. 

How to deal with rude people; tips and more 

Imagine not getting paid; look after your contractors 

Property managers cannot always be available

Lease renewals; does your agency work for free?

Best practice documents recommended to be used when signing up a new lessor client

Dispute and self resolution tips for property managers

Smile when you dial - tips for phone calls 

Did you get my email phone call or 2nd emails; tips for PM’s on how to avoid 

The 5 reasons property managers carry out routine inspections

Outsourcing and property management - my concerns

Landlord Public liability insurance; a reminder for PM's

Property management tasks and time management 

How do you know who you are dealing with?

Mould in rental property - tenant and landlord responsibilities

Natural disasters and property management best practice tips

Tips for creating and maintaining a successful property management business

Tips on educating landlords as why they should have landlord insurance

Tribunal for property managers - tips for success

What is the role of a career property manager - welcome to the wonderful world of property management

Script for client landlord not wanting to sign management agreement contract.  

Time management tips for property managers

Landlord newsletters and how easily they can be done, plus why they should be done

Proactive property management - maintenance 

Tips on how to survey landlord clients easily

New business tips for growing the rent roll (for BDM's)

What do you do for your management fees? Overcoming landlord objections tips

The KPI's you should have for your property management business

RTRA Act review Queensland - what you need to know (as at 17th January 2019)

Tenancy sign up best practice tips

Entry condition report best practice procedures

Setting up a property management business tips

Application forms and processing best practice

What is thank a property manager day?

Vacate/Final inspection pre vacate best practice tips

Task management vs Portfolio management

How many properties can one property manager manage?

Happy staff = Happy clients. Culture and staff retention

Property Management Excellence  (Queensland)

Rent arrears best practice tips

Rent arrears and the landlord

Why are property managers so mean to each other?

ANZAC day laws for Queensland real estate agencies

Property Management - the pros and cons

February 2019 Real Estate Excellence member office update 

March 2019 Real Estate Excellence member office update

April 2019 Real Estate Excellence member office update

Future podcast online training for PME system member offices

 Property Management Excellence training podcasts  - Listen here

Face to Face training and private in your agency training is available

More information here 

 

Sales Excellence manual - Part of the PME system

Platinum PME membership - Real Estate Excellence (Qld membership)

To review the Sales Excellence manual, please login to  Real Estate Excellence member online.

The focus of the Sales Excellence manual is on compliance, best practice and risk management to be used as an everyday procedure and training resource for the administrator, licensee and the salespeople of the agency. The resource is Queensland legislation focused. 

The Sales Excellence (SE) manual is similar in concept and design to the existing  Property Management Excellence PME system.  The Sales Excellence manual also includes best practice forms. The manual is over 400 pages.

Contents of the Sales Excellence manual

Chapter 1                          Residential sales overview

Chapter 2                          Enquiries, databases and prospecting

Chapter 3                          The listing appointment and listing the property

Chapter 4                          Advertising and showing property

Chapter 5                          Rental property for sale

Chapter 6                          Disclosure and the law

Chapter 7                          Beneficial interest and the law

Chapter 8                         Auctions and the law

Chapter 9                          Pricing, appraisals and the law

Chapter 10                       Contracts

Chapter 11                       Time management

Chapter 12                       Filing and record keeping

Chapter 13                       File notes and follow up

Chapter 14                       Property Occupations regulations

Chapter 15                       Agency policies in general

Chapter 16                       Relevant legislation references

Chapter 17                       Clearance certificates

Chapter 18                       Trust accounting