Articles in Category: Property Management information

Article and information that are of interest to property managers. Note; some articles may be Queensland legislation focused.


COVID-19 for bodies corporate

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

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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

 

COVID-19 LOT OWNER BEST PRACTICE GUIDE

 

Whether you’re a landlord, owner occupier, committee or a building manager, here’s what you need to know about preparedness, communication and resident safety during the COVID-19 outbreak. The guide answers many questions unique to strata communities including:

  1. Are residents required to disclose to the Strata Community if they are self quarantined or infected?
  2. Should I disclose to the Strata Community that I am self-isolating and/or have been ordered to self-isolate?
  3. Should I disclose to the Strata Community that I have been infected with COVID-19?
  4. What type of Policies may the Committee create?
  5. What if I have pets?

Click Here to download the full guide now.

Alternatively, if you are a Building Manager, the following version has further information applicable to your role:
Apartment Living & COVID-19 Best Practice Guideline BUILDING MANAGERS

This guide was prepared by Strata Community Association (Qld)

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 

QCAT property management training special one day event

QCAT training

Preparation and presentation are the keys to success

Special one day event 

All other upcoming special one day events including New and Renew Property Management training, Experienced Property Management training and new business training can be found here (or email us  name and email address of attendee/s for us to register you to save the online booking fee charged by the provider).

Kedron Wavell RSL Chermside Brisbane

9am arrival for 9.30am start with 3.30pm finish with morning tea and lunch 

29th May online registration here. 7th August online registration here.

Or register via email with names and email of attendees to save the online booking fee charged by online provider contact us

The session includes best practice completion of QCAT forms, how to prepare and present an application tribunal, what legislative sections all property managers should know, plus an overview of QCAT 'case law' and how to find and use the published decisions and appeals in agency practice.

 

All sessions are subject to change at the discretion of Stacey Holt (Real Estate Excellence) and or cancellation. Registered attendees will be advised of any changes to any event they have registered to attend via the email address used for registration.

Membership information - If you would information about the membership options provided by Real Estate Excellence for Queensland real estate  agencies, click here or contact us

Registrations for events can be made online register online  (you do not have to use PayPal; you can register online, select to pay by other which is direct deposit or secure credit card link. Once we receive your registration, an invoice is generated within one day (business days) from our accounting system which has the secure link and or banking direct deposit details)  register online  (an online booking fee is charged by the online booking provider). Certificates of attendance are available upon email request after the event and confirmation of attendance. Certificates of attendance are emailed to the attendee in PDF format upon request. Other option instead of registering online;  email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  with the name and email address of attendee/s (no booking fee is charged if registration is made via email). All training events are presented by Stacey Holt. A registration ticket and invoice will be emailed to the registered attendees within one day of registration (business days).