Articles in Category: Business

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


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

From the RTA website - updated 7th April 2020 www.rta.qld.gov.au

Refer to RTA website for any updates to this information www.rta.qld.gov.au 

 

 

Are you eligible for a Queensland COVID-19 Rental Grant? Learn more

On 29 March 2020, Australian governments met as the National Cabinet and announced that evictions will be put on hold for six months for residential and commercial tenancies affected by the financial impacts of COVID-19. On 3 April, the Prime Minister noted that further work will be done by the Treasurers on residential tenancies. 

 You can learn more about the proposed measures by:
• reading the Prime Minister’s full address
• downloading the Australian Government’s official Coronavirus Australia app in the Apple App Store and Google Play; or following the Government's WhatsApp channel
• calling our information hotline on 1800 497 161 from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, or from 9am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday
• texting (SMS) “Hi” to 0480 000 782
• visiting our RTA COVID-19 response page.

 We will update our website and eNews subscribers when more details become available.

The RTA encourages all parties in a tenancy to be understanding and reasonable in their dealings with each other, 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.

 If you are a public housing tenant, visit the Department of Housing and Public Works website. For the latest COVID-19 health updates, visit Queensland Health’s website. For details on the State Government’s economic relief package, please visit the Business Queensland website. For official Australian Government information and support in response to COVID-19, please visit Australia.gov.au.

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

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - A Legal Overview

Sourced article www.lexology.com 16th March 2020

We are all in uncertain, unprecedented and uncharted waters. Listen to the short podcast regarding the Coronavirus and Real Estate - thoughts for now here. Take care, Stacey Holt

Sourced article begins below. 

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially declared Coronavirus (COVID-19) a “pandemic”. The WHO defines a pandemic as “the worldwide spread of a new disease”. The onset of Coronavirus raises a myriad of legal issues.

Your Health and Safety

As at 12 March 2020, it was 65 days since the Coronavirus was first diagnosed. The WHO recommends that to prevent the infection spreading humans should regularly wash their hands, cover their mouths when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cook meat and eggs and avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms such as coughing and sneezing.

Travel has been affected, particularly at the international level. The Australian Government has restricted some travel and issued warnings in respect of some countries. The Australian Government’s Department of Health website regularly contains updates including relevant travel and health information.

Workplace Health and Safety

Both employers and employees have a statutory obligation to ensure that they operate within a healthy and safe work environment. Although the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) and its Northern Territory counterpart, the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 do not place a specific obligation on persons conducting a business or undertaking to develop and have in place relevant policies it is generally accepted that good governance and practice includes having relevant health and safety policies in place.

In order to ensure that everyone knows what is expected, all workplaces should develop policies detailing how they intend to respond to the variety of threats posed by exposure or potential exposure to Coronavirus. The policies should deal with issues such as:

  1. Health and hygiene.
  2. What to do in the event of a staff member contracting Coronavirus.
  3. What to do in the event of a staff member having possibly come into contact with an infected person.
  4. Travel and post-travel quarantine.
  5. Visitors to the workplace.
  6. Attendance at external events for work related purposes.

In the event that a staff member is required to quarantine, or you require a staff member to self-quarantine you will need to consider if and how that person is renumerated for the period of their absence from the workplace. The options may include:

  1. Access to sick leave.
  2. Access to other leave entitlements.
  3. Unpaid leave.
  4. Paying the employee normal renumeration.

There are however restrictions on when an employer can require an employee to take leave (whether paid or unpaid). You should have regard to any awards, registered agreements or employment contracts which may govern your employees. It may be that you will need to pay that employee their ordinary wage/salary. The Fair Work Ombudsman’s outlines the relevant information on this topic. You should also bear in mind the possible application of anti-discrimination legislation when framing your policies.

Federal and State Powers

The Federal, State and Territory Governments have a range of powers at their disposal that they can utilise.

For example, at the Federal level there is the Biosecurity Act 2015 and the National Health Security Act 2007. On 26 January 2020, Coronavirus was included in the list of human diseases falling under the ambit of the Biosecurity Act. This enables restrictions to be placed on entry and exit from Australia and the imposition of individual control orders.

In South Australia, the Government declared Coronavirus a notifiable condition pursuant to the South Australian Public Health Act (2011). Amendments to this Act enhancing the power to control people’s movements and requiring people to undergo testing came into force on 5 March 2020.

On 6 February 2020, Coronavirus was declared a “notifiable disease” in the Northern Territory pursuant to the Notifiable Diseases Act 1981. This Act provides power to require persons to undergo treatment and to take steps preventing the possible spread of the disease. This could include a requirement that an infected person be removed and detained at a hospital.

Business Interruption

There are a myriad of ways in which your business could be affected. For instance:

  1. If you had to close your workplace because of an infection.
  2. Your supply chain is interrupted in turn affecting your production.
  3. You are unable to fulfil existing contracts.

Where you are unable to complete or fulfil a contract the starting point is to examine all the relevant clauses. Most business contracts will contain a force majeure clause.

If you do have an interruption to your business, whether because you had to close your workplace or because of a supply chain disruption you should have regard to all relevant business insurance policies that you have in place.

In the event that you or one of your staff members contracts Coronavirus in the course of employment this may trigger a worker’s compensation claim.

In the event that you are entering into new contracts you may wish to include specific provision relating to the potential affect on the performance of the contract in connection with Coronavirus interruption.

Event Cancellation

Organisations/employers are starting to restrict travel and attendance at events. This has a consequential flow on effect for event organisers who are now being forced to consider the viability of events. Putting aside the further effect on sub-contractors that may be effected such as caterers, security guards and the like the initial consideration for event organisers is whether or not there is any obligation to refund tickets or reservations already purchased. The answer to this question will depend on the terms and conditions upon which bookings were made and taken. This will require an individual analysis on an event by event basis.

Insurance is available for event cancellations and non-appearances of key personnel. Whether or not relevant policies are triggered is again a question that needs to be determined on an individual policy basis.

As to what the rights are of affected sub-contractors will also need to be determined by reference to their supply contracts and/or any insurance (such as business interruption) that they may have in place. Once again this is dealt with in the separate contractual and insurance Alerts referred to above.

Conclusion

This content is current as at 13 March 2020. The speed with which Coronavirus is spreading and the varied responses both internally within Australia and externally change on a daily basis. It is important that you regularly keep up to date with all relevant information and be prepared to respond as the landscape in which the virus is moving changes.  

Article source Finlaysons - Ralph BönigLisa Calabrese and Will Snow

A landlord, a managing real estate agent, a delegable duty of care and a set of dodgy stairs

Sourced from www.lexology.com 25th February 2020

 

Who is liable for an injury to a tenant caused by the state of a property the subject of a residential lease? The landlord? The managing real estate agent? Both?

Yeung v Santosa Realty Co Pty Ltd [2020] VSCA 7 considers a landlord’s delegable duty of care to a tenant and issues pertaining to the apportionment of liability between the responsible parties.

In Issue

  • A landlord’s delegable duty of care to a tenant
  • Liability for injuries sustained by a tenant under a residential lease
  • An agent’s duty to inspect the property and notify landlord of obvious defects

The background

In early 2014, a residential tenant (Tenant) slipped at night on the back stairs of the property she was leasing, causing her to fracture her right ankle (Incident). Relevantly, the stairs had no handrail and were worn, slippery and unlit. The Incident was then reported to the managing real estate agent (Agent) who proceeded to arrange the required rectification works.

The Tenant brought proceedings for negligence in the County Court of Victoria against the owner of the premises (Landlord) and the Agent. It was held they had both breached their duty to the Tenant and were liable for damages - liability was apportioned two thirds to the Landlord and one third to the Agent. The Landlord appealed the decision.

The decision on appeal

The appeal was upheld with the Court of Appeal finding that the Landlord had delegated his duty of care to the Agent and as a result was entitled to a complete indemnification from the Agent.

A central consideration of the appeal was whether the application of the duty of a landlord to take reasonable care to avoid foreseeable risk of injury to tenants can be discharged by the exercise of reasonable skill and care in engaging a real estate agent to take steps to keep the property safe. It was held that such a duty can, in certain circumstances, be completely discharged and delegated to a managing real estate agent.

In coming to this decision, the Court of Appeal made the following critical findings:

  1. the Agent’s obligation to inspect and report included identifying and recording visible or obvious risks and reporting them to the Landlord;
  2. the Agent breached its duty of care to the Tenant when it failed to carry out an inspection of the stairs as it was bound to do – particularly in circumstances where the risk of slipping was foreseeable and not insignificant, and where there was a risk of a significant injury; and
  3. the defects were not latent, were obvious and detection required no specialist expertise. If the Agent had carried out the inspection, it would have identified the defects in the stairs and, upon notification to the Landlord, these defects would have been remedied and the fall would not have happened.

Implications for you

This decision confirms that a landlord’s duty to take reasonable care to avoid foreseeable risk of injury to tenants can, in certain circumstances, be completely discharged and delegated to a managing real estate agent.

For managing real estate agents, it is therefore crucial to understand and appreciate your obligations pursuant to your agreement with a landlord – especially those related to the scope of your property inspections, maintenance reports and required repairs. As this case shows, a failure to adequately perform such duties can attract severe consequences.

Yeung v Santosa Realty Co Pty Ltd (2020) VSCA 7 

Barry.Nilsson. Lawyers - Lachlan Doran 

Director of First impressions/Agency receptionist special one day event

2nd August 2019 - Brisbane

Agency receptionist special one day event

Register online here,  or email us name and email of attendees for us to register you manually to save the online booking fee) 

Click here to view all upcoming training events

 

The role of the Director of first impressions is one of the most critical roles for any real estate agency. This event will focus on assisting receptionists and front line staff in excelling in their role, plus tips to assist the licensee, property management and sales team.

This special one day event will include the following topics;

Tips on making the best first impression when on the phone and when people walk into the agency,

Email etiquette tips,

Communication tips when dealing with colleagues and clients/customers,

Tenancy application form best practice completion and processing,

Dealing with aggressive people tips,

Safety tips for you and the office,

Risk management and how the licensee can be supported,

General trust account requirements,

File notes, filing and record keeping,

Message taking best practice for good agency practice,

Mail book recording best practice and why.

Licensee and Agency Administrator training - special one day event

Special one day event - Brisbane July 19 2019 - 9am to 3.30pm

This special one-day event is suitable for all staff members of an agency with focus on the licensee and agency administrator.   Click here to view all upcoming training and special events.

Register online here (or email us name and email of attendees for us to register you manually to save the online booking fee). The event includes arrival tea and coffee, morning tea and working lunch.

The session, presented by Stacey Holt,  will include the following legislative requirements under the Property Occupations Act and the Agents Financial Administration Act (and regulations);

  • Meaning of in charge of a real estate agency
  • Licensee requirements to supervise and train staff
  • Substitute licensee requirements
  • When staff need to be registered
  • What a registration certificate authorises
  • Notifying the Office of Fair-Trading requirements when circumstances change
  • Key compliance and best practice completion tips for residential sales and property management PO Form 6
  • Where some people go wrong in completing the PO Form 6
  • Agency conduct legislative standards
  • Record keeping including electronic record keeping requirements
  • Accounting to clients including mid and end of month
  • Auditing requirements under the PO Act
  • Key trust accounting compliance reminders including receipting, entitlement to fees and disbursement of trust funds
  • An update on the RTRA Act review.

Register online here (or email us name and email of attendees for us to register you manually to save the online booking fee)