Coronavirus - Queensland Real Estate Property Management public running blog

April 25th - FINAL Blog post - the laws have now commenced

SCROLL down for what you need  - the running blog was continually updated and as at April 25th, the FINAL Blog post was made with the Queensland tenancy new laws commencing.

Stacey Holt CEO Real Estate Excellence 

The information provided is current as at time and date of each blog post. Refer to disclaimer at the end of this blog before reviewing the blog.

Listen to Property Management Excellence PME free podcasts 

Mental Health assistance Government Digital Mental Health resources for your needs here. And also useful advice and information here. Articles (PDF) below

Maintaining your mental health during social isolation and Tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety

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

Real Estate Excellence Platinum PME and Platinum non PME member offices Members of Real Estate Excellence;   Each time I update this blog, I post in the Real Estate Excellence members Facebook group that there has been an update made  (We will email members significant events).

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 the folder Coronavirus best practice templates.  Please email us for support Members as per the terms of the membership agreement during this time. Facebook  Queensland member office private group here (Members only). Platinum PME member offices; information regarding the new COVID -19 PME manual temporary chapter here. When you login and go to PME system folder, a new folder called 00000 Covid-19 PME chapter is there. The temporary laws apply to affected tenancies as defined. The existing laws apply to unaffected Covid-19 tenancies as defined.

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www.realestateexcellence.com.au/memberonline

April 25th - FINAL Blog post - the laws have now commenced

The laws have commenced. PME new temporary Covid-19 chapter has been released in  More here. 

April 24th 5.55pm Practice Guide to navigate tenancies through COVID-19 - Housing Minister statement

Media Statements

Minister for Housing and Public Works, Minister for Digital Technology and Minister for Sport
The Honourable Mick de Brenni

Friday, April 24, 2020

Practice Guide to navigate tenancies through COVID-19

The Palaszczuk Government has today enacted National Cabinet’s moratorium on evictions, with a Practice Guide formalising the temporary requirements and protections for tenancies impacted by COVID-19.

Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni today published the Residential Tenancies Practice Guide, following the passing of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act in Parliament this week, which allows government to enact emergency COVID-19 regulations.

“Queenslanders are no strangers to working together when times get tough, whether it's joining the Care Army, donating blood to support our hospitals, or working out a fair rental agreement until income support comes through.

“Most property owners and tenants are already coming to their own agreements about how they can work through this period, making sure that nobody loses the roof over their head.

Mr de Brenni said the Practice Guide would help property owners and their tenants in their discussions to negotiate a way through the next six months.

“For those that need it, we’ve provided the detail to help Queenslanders understand their rights, assist in discussions about their individual circumstances, be they lessor or lessee, and assist in coming together in collaboration to new agreements where necessary.

“We’ve worked with Tenants Queensland and the Real Estate Institute of Queensland on the development of the guide, who agree that this is a useful tool for tenants and owners alike.

Minister de Brenni said that the Palaszczuk Government’s new regulations struck a fair balance for tenants, owners and property managers.

“These are a temporary set of measures to ensure tenants and owners are protected during this pandemic.

“Tenants who are suffering or who have suffered excessive hardship because of COVID-19 who cannot meet their rent commitments cannot be evicted or listed in a tenancy database because of that suffering.

Mr de Brenni said the Palaszczuk Government had established a special COVID-19 Housing Security Subcommittee.

“Independent parties, including Tenants Queensland, the Real Estate Institute of Queensland, the Queensland Council of Social Service, Q Shelter, along with the Residential Tenancies Authority, will supervise, observe and report to government regularly on the implementation and impacts of the measures."

The Residential Tenancies Practice Guide provides detail on:

  • Threshold criteria to qualify for the application of the COVID-19 rental response, that includes a 25 per cent reduction in income, or where rent exceeds 30 per cent of the tenant's income.
  • The evidence that tenants can be asked to provide the same proof of finances to property managers just as they would when starting a tenancy.
  • Access for the sale of the property, virtual rental inspections and access for essential repairs and maintenance.
  • The 75 per cent income loss and less than $5,000 in savings threshold before a tenant is eligible for a 7-day cap on break lease fees if they end a fixed term lease early.
  • The extension on the term of a fixed term tenancy agreement during the COVID-19 period to September 30, 2020 unless agreed otherwise by the owner and tenant, or there is an appropriate ground to end the tenancy.
  • Conciliation with the Residential Tenancies Authority, including the renegotiation of lease agreements where parties are COVID-19 effected, which could cover new rent payments and deferrals if this is agreed to.

 

A copy of the Practice Guide can be found online at www.COVID19.qld.gov.au/the-hub.

ENDS

Media contact: Rosie Gilbert – 0466 834 330 Soured from statements.qld.gov.au 

April 24th 5pm PME new temporary Covid-19 chapter released in draft (laws have not yet commenced) More here.

Contents for temporary NEW PME manual Covid 19 RTRA Act and regulation amendments

The reference to “C” is the paragraph number – search/control find to go straight to the paragraph as required.

CA RTA Residential RTA practice guide (MINISTER GUIDELINES) and the “Hub”

C AA RTA Online COVID-19 Dispute resolution request www.rta.qld.gov.au

C AAA The RTRA Act amended to allow for regulations Covid-19

C 1 When tenants suffer excessive hardship because of Covid-19

C 2 Moratorium on evictions – what does it apply to?

C 3 Extension of fixed term tenancy

C 4 Unpaid rent – show cause

C 5 Conciliation of dispute about unpaid rent

C 6 Tenancy variation agreement – section 53 does not apply

C 7 Rent decreases

C 8 Failure to leave for unremedied breach relating to unpaid rent

C 9 Rent bonds and decreases in amount of rent

C 10 Entry to property restrictions

C 11 Alternative arrangements for inspections

C 12 Repairs and maintenance – routine repairs exemptions

C 13 Notice to remedy to lessor by tenant – routine maintenance

C 14 Domestic violence

C 15 Ending of agreements – new provisions to end the tenancy

C 16 Notice of intention to leave – new provisions for tenants

C 17 Termination for excessive hardship

C 18 Compensation for reletting the property exemptions

C 19 General provisions

C 20 False and misleading documents

C 21 Summary offences

C 22 Minister may make guidelines

C 23 Dictionary

April 24th 1.30pm NEW RTA temporary approved forms

The following forms are yet to be released by the RTA. Note as per podcast, and email to Members this morning, the laws are yet to commence.

Approved forms - RTA 

Show cause – unpaid rent

Rental tenancy variation agreement

Form 16 Covid-19

Premises being sold

Extension of time to complete particular provisions

April 24th 9am RTRA Act and QCAT update podcast

Listen to podcast here.

April 24th 8am QCAT COVID-19 Update

Current status of QCAT Residential Tenancy Disputes

Residential tenancy disputes are dealt with by QCAT under the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008. In regional Queensland, the Magistrates Court deals with these disputes, acting as QCAT.

QCAT is currently receiving many enquiries about the rights of tenants and landlords in relation to evictions under the Act following recent announcements of a “moratorium” on tenancy eviction proceedings.

In that regard, it has been reported that the National Cabinet agreed to a moratorium on evictions over the next six months for residential tenancies “in financial distress who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of the coronavirus” (Prime Minister’s Media Statement, 29 March 2020).

Further, on 22 April 2020, the Queensland Parliament’s Legislative Assembly passed the COVID-19 Emergency Response Bill 2020 and the draft  Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020 was tabled.

In broad terms, the draft Regulation:

  • Declares a moratorium on evicting a tenant who fails to pay rent if the failure relates to the tenant suffering excessive hardship because of the COVID-19 emergency, backdated to 29 March 2020;
  • Sets up a framework for the Residential Tenancy Authority to conciliate disputes about unpaid rent before any application to QCAT; and
  • Also provides greater protections for tenants experiencing domestic and family violence.

The draft  Regulation has not yet been approved by Governor in Council. When new laws come into effect, QCAT will immediately apply them as appropriate. Until then, QCAT will continue to apply the current law.

Further information please contact the Residential Tenancies Authority, by telephone on 1300 366 311 between the house of 8.30am and 5pm, Monday to Friday or by visiting their website at www.rta.qld.gov.au

Alternatively, you can visit the Queensland Government’s Residential Rental Hub which is available online at www.covid19.qld.gov.au/the-hub

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)

*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)

Apri 24th 7am Email being sent to Real Estate Excellence members - new laws update and information 

An email is being sent to Member offices of Real Estate Excellence now with very useful information to assist with new laws, a lessor template email and an update regarding the new temporary Covid-19 PME manual chapter. 

23rd 11.20am Visit www.rta.qld.gov.au - screen shot below

RTA

 

April 23rd 10am Michael Hart (LNP) Shadow Housing Minister Queenslnd UPDATE (Facebook post source)

Last night the Qld Labor Government gave their Minister's unfettered power to change many conditions in Act's of Parliament by Regulation, with no real scrutiny of the Parliament.

There were no changes the LNP could vote on or amend to Commercial or Residential Tenancy Laws.

The government tabled a draft regulation for Residential Tenancies you can look at via this link: https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/…/Table…/2020/5620T640.pdf

This Regulation can be altered at any time by the Minister without any real oversight but expires in December.

April  23rd April 9.30am  -  Queensland Government "HUB" for property owners updated 23rd April 

For property owners 

It’s never been more important to ensure people do not have to face the prospect of homelessness, than during this global pandemic. It’s critical from a public health perspective that people can self-isolate in their own homes, and this means ensuring that they can remain in their rental properties for the duration of this crisis.

Most renters and property owners are already coming to agreements, that are meeting the needs of both parties.

If you own a property for rent in Queensland, including a house, unit, share house, room, caravan or houseboat, there are rules that must be followed. Your rights and responsibilities are set out in the Residential Tenancies And Rooming Accommodation Act 2008.

Neither property owners or tenants are to blame for the effects of COVID-19, and now is the time to work through this together to get out to the other side of this pandemic.

In response to COVID-19, we are introducing a range of measures to support the residential rental sector:

  • tenants in financial distress due to the impact of the coronavirus who cannot meet their rent commitments cannot be evicted or listed in a tenancy database for rent arrears.
  • fixed term agreements due to expire during the COVID-19 pandemic will be extended to 30 September 2020 unless the tenant requests a shorter term.
  • cap break lease fees for eligible tenants – household income reduced by at least 75% and savings of less than $5,000.
  • owner obligations for routine repairs and inspections have been relaxed but regulatory obligations to ensure tenant safety in the rental property continue to apply.
  • tenants may refuse physical entry for non-essential reasons, including routine repairs and inspections, particularly if a member of the household is a vulnerable person. However, tenants must agree to virtual inspections if physical inspections are not agreed to.
  • tenants and property owners should work together to reach agreement. If agreement cannot be reached, parties are required to undertake conciliation to resolve disputes which aims to achieve conciliated agreements which form part of the tenancy agreement.

To meet the requirements for the six-month moratorium on evictions, a household is impacted if:

  1. A person is suffering excessive hardship due to the COVID-19 emergency if any of the following apply:
    1. one or more tenants or residents are afflicted by COVID-19
    2. they are subject to a public health direction to stay at a place
    3. a public health direction has closed their employment or restricted their employer’s trade or business
    4. they are self-isolating because they or a member of their household or a someone they are a primary carer for is a vulnerable person
    5. they are unable to work because of a travel restriction
    6. they have been prevented from returning to Australia; AND
  2. the person suffers a loss of income of 25% or more, OR
  3. the rent payable is 30% or more person’s income.

The Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) can provide information and support tenants and property owners to reach agreement. They also offer a free dispute resolution service if you need further support.

If you need help with your tenancy, talk to the RTA:

  • text (SMS) “Hi” to 0480 000 782
  • call the RTA’s information hotline on 1800 497 161 from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, or from 9am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday
  • visit the Residential Tenancies Authority website.

April 22nd 11.55pm The RTRA Act amendment law *regulations  has not commenced yet

Although the RTRA Act was amended tonight as per my previous post below, it has not yet commenced. We are awaiting assent and commencment date. 

April 22nd 10.35pm - The RTRA Act has been amended 

COVID-19 Emergency Response Bill 2020

This is the Bill as introduced into Parliament by the Honourable Yvette D'Ath, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice on 22 April 2020 (accessed 22 April 2020 at 22:35)


24Regulation-making power for residential tenancies and rooming accommodation etc.

(1)A regulation under this Act or the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (the RTRA Act) may make provision for any matter necessary for responding to the COVID-19 emergency, including—
(a)to ensure rights, obligations and processes under the RTRA Act operate appropriately having regard to COVID-19 response measures; and
(b)to assist in achieving the objectives of COVID-19 response measures; and
(c)to support the Queensland residential rental sector during the COVID-19 emergency period.
(2)Without limiting subsection (1), a regulation may—
(a)impose a moratorium on evictions of tenants and residents during the COVID-19 emergency period; or
(b)alter the grounds on which notices to leave may be given; or
(c)enable particular disputes about unpaid rent to be conciliated by the Residential Tenancies Authority; or
(d)suspend a right or obligation under the RTRA Act in particular circumstances; or
(e)provide for applications to be made to, and decided by, a different entity to the entity provided for under the RTRA Act; or
(f)prohibit the inclusion of particular matters in a tenancy database within the meaning of section 457 of the RTRA Act; or
(g)amend a residential tenancy agreement or rooming accommodation agreement, including, for example, by—
(i)extending the term of the agreement; or
(ii)terminating the agreement; or
(iii)if there is more than 1 tenant or resident for the agreement—ending the interest of a tenant or resident in the agreement; or
(h)extend the application of particular provisions of the RTRA Act to additional persons.
(3)A regulation under this section may—
(a)be inconsistent with an Act or law, other than the Human Rights Act 2019, to the extent necessary to achieve a purpose of the regulation and this Act; and
(b)have retrospective operation to a day not earlier than 19 March 2020; and
(c)impose a penalty of not more than 100 penalty units for a contravention of the regulation.
(4)Without limiting subsection (3)(a), to the extent a person’s act or omission complies with a regulation made under this section that is inconsistent with an Act or law, the person does not incur civil or criminal liability under the Act or law for the act or omission.
(5)A regulation under this section must declare it is made under this section.
(6)This section does not limit a regulation-making power under the RTRA Act.
(7)If there is an inconsistency between a regulation made under this section and any of the following, the regulation prevails to the extent of the inconsistency—
(a)a provision of an Act or law, other than the Human Rights Act 2019;
(b)another regulation made under the RTRA Act;
(c)a standard term or special term of a residential tenancy agreement or rooming accommodation agreement.
(8)A regulation made under this section expires on 31 December 2020.
(9)The Statutory Instruments Act 1992section 49(1) applies to the tabling of a regulation made under this section as if the reference to 14 sitting days were a reference to 14 days.
(10)In this section—
resident see the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008schedule 2.
residential tenancy agreement see the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008section 12.
rooming accommodation agreement see the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008section 16.
tenant see the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008schedule 2.

April 22nd 9.40pm COVID-19 Emergency Response Bill 2020 - includes RTRA Act amendments

Click here to review the RTRA Act amendment (not the regulations)  here.

April 22nd 8.35pm Temporary RTRA Act and regulation changes - from when to when

Once passed I will post the passed regulations. For now, they will be retrospective from 29th March and run until 31st December 2020.

 

 

April 22nd 8.15pm Parliament live now http://tv.parliament.qld.gov.au/ and the tenancy part of the bill is being debated

 

April 22nd 3.30pm PME system members - Draft contents of temporary PME manual chapter - listen to podcast here.

Contents for temporary NEW Real Estate Excellence Platinum PME members  Property Management Excellence (PME) manual Covid 19 RTRA Act and regulation amendments 

When tenants suffer excessive hardship because of Covid-19

Moratorium on evictions – what does it apply to?

Extension of fixed term tenancy

Unpaid rent – show cause

Conciliation of dispute about unpaid rent

Tenancy variation agreement – section 53 does not apply

Rent decreases

Failure to leave for unremedied breach relating to unpaid rent

Rent bonds and decreases in amount of rent

Entry to property restrictions

Alternative arrangements for inspections

Repairs and maintenance – routine repairs exemptions

Notice to remedy to lessor by tenant – routine maintenance and provision for breach of 'minimum housing standards'

Domestic violence

Ending of agreements – new provisions to end the tenancy

Notice of intention to leave – new provisions for tenants

Termination for excessive hardship

Compensation for reletting the property exemptions

General provisions 

Summary offences

Minister may make guidelines

April 22nd 11.30am Proposed Amendment to RTRA Act (not passed as at this time) and provided from a source in confidence. Listen to Podcast here.

I am currently watching the Queensland Parliament live on Parliament TV. At this stage, the tenancy law amendments have not been tabled and introduced. The regulations are not yet available. Updated 12.25pm - I have received a copy of the draft regulations. They are 63 pages long. I am reviewing now and will not make public until passed. Updated 1pm The "HOUSE" just voted for only a three hour debate on the Covid-19 bill which includes the tenancy laws and regulations. The Government won the vote of only three hours for debate and the Opposition leader has stated they will not oppose the bill. 

Review the DRAFT RTRA Act amendments below. 

Act 1

Act 2

Act 3

Act 4

Act 5

Act 6

April 21st 10am Queensland tenancy law proposed changes update 21st April 2020 podcast at link below.

Listen to the podcast here.

 April 21st 9.10am New temporary PME manual chapter coming - Temporary RTRA Act changes 

I will be releasing a temporary chapter of the Property Management Excellence (PME) manual once we know what the new laws and tenancy 'guidelines are. Parliament sit tomorrow. I will advise Real Estate Excellence members once certainty is known, plus advise when the new temporary PME manual chapter has been released. I shall update this blog, email, plus post in the Members Facebook group.

PME chapter Coronavirus

April 21st 9am Minister responds - Queensland proposed tenancy law changes

WE HAVE LISTENED  

Thank you for your email to the Premier and Minister for Trade in relation to the protections for property owners and tenants in Queensland during the COVID-19 crisis. As this matter falls within my responsibilities as Housing Minister, the Premier has asked that I respond on her behalf. 

As you would be aware, millions of Australians in the last few weeks, through no fault of their own, have lost their job or experienced significant income loss because of COVID-19. 

As a result of this crisis, a temporary Moratorium on Evictions was announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Each State and Territory is required to implement this through their own laws. 

The Premier has asked me to work with the industry to implement this temporary moratorium and ensure that Queensland property owners make it through this pandemic with tenancies in place to pay their mortgages and tenants continuing to have a roof over their heads. 

We recognise that many property owners are making significant sacrifices to meet the needs of tenants. We thank you for doing this and we have been working with the Real Estate Institute of Queensland and other stakeholders on the concerns that you have raised.  

As a result of your feedback, the following temporary and targeted measures will apply for six months to properties where the tenant is impacted by COVID-19 (all other tenancies not impacted by COVID-19 will continue to operate under usual arrangements): 

  • The six-month moratorium on evictions will only apply to tenancies where the tenant’s income has been reduced as result of COVID-19 and the tenant is at risk of eviction. Tenants can still be evicted for doing the wrong thing and on other grounds. 
  • We are asking property owners and tenants to work together where a tenant is experiencing COVID-19 related financial challenges to negotiate a new temporary and sensible rent amount. Guidelines are being developed to support reaching agreement including duration and whether repayments are required. While we expect most tenants and property owners to come to an agreement, where this is not possible, we will provide a compulsory, free, fair and independent conciliation service to resolve issues. 
  • Tenants will need to demonstrate genuine financial distress from COVID-19 that meets an established standard. Tenants will  need to have had a 25 per cent reduction in income or show that rent exceeds 30 per cent of the tenant’s income. This can be substantiated by providing the same financial information they do at the start of a tenancy. 
  • Enabling virtual inspections to protect tenants and property managers from getting COVID-19 and ensuring essential access for repairs and maintenance continues where safe. 
  • Tenants will be able to have break lease fees capped only where there has been a 75% loss of income and they have less than $5,000 in cash. 
  • Tenancies that expire during this crisis will only roll over to September 30 2020 at the latest and they have been impacted by COVID-19. 
  • The six-month moratorium on evictions will only apply to tenancies where the tenant’s income has been reduced as result of COVID-19 and the tenant is at risk of eviction. Tenants can still be evicted for doing the wrong thing and on other grounds. 
  • In cases where the owner and tenant are both experiencing financial distress, we have established a $20 million-dollar rental grant fund to complement existing Centrelink support. 

We will continue to listen and act to ensure property owners and tenants get through this crisis.  

You may also be aware that we have announced a $400 million dollar land tax relief package for property owners who are providing support to residential and business tenants in this difficult time. You can find out more at www.qld.gov.au/landtax.

Additionally, our household relief package will give Queensland households $200 off their utility bills, building on the $50 asset dividend we have already announced. 

Through the National Cabinet, the Premier is also working with banks to ensure they step up to provide appropriate relief to property owners. 

As a Government that listens, we appreciate the feedback you have provided and I hope my email provides some assurances to you in this difficult time.  

If you need any further information, please visit the Residential Rental Hub on www.covid19.qld.gov.au/the-hub or text “hi” to 0480 000 782. 

Yours Sincerely 

MICK DE BRENNI MP
MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND PUBLIC WORKS,
MINISTER FOR DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY AND
MINISTER FOR SPORT

April 19th 7.15pm Fair middle ground reached on COVID-19 guidelines for property owners and tenants - Queensland Housing Minister statement

Media Statements

Minister for Housing and Public Works, Minister for Digital Technology and Minister for Sport
The Honourable Mick de Brenni

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Fair middle ground reached on COVID-19 guidelines for property owners and tenants

The Palaszczuk Government has worked with industry stakeholders to establish Guidelines to support Queensland’s approach to implement the moratorium on evictions decided by National Cabinet.

Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said that the government had taken into account concerns from Queensland property owners and tenants; and was bolstering its support to make sure that everyone could get through this difficult time.

“The Palaszczuk Government is a government that listens and will be there for those who need us most when times are tough.

“Queensland has published a framework on the government’s new www.covid19.qld.gov.au website, setting out the process for interaction pending the development of an implementation Guideline which has been fleshed out with stakeholders this week.

“Working with industry stakeholders, a Residential Tenancies Practice Guide COVID-19 for property owners and tenants has been developed.

“The Guide will support owners on a range of COVID-19 issues along with free, impartial and expert conciliation from the Residential Tenancies Authority if parties need additional support to reach agreement.

“Tenants and property owners in significant financial distress are also being supported through a $20 million rental grant package, announced with the framework over a week ago.

“As a final step, amendments to the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act will be introduced in Parliament to enable the emergency measures.

Mr de Brenni announced that the Residential Tenancies Authority, Real Estate Institute of Queensland, QShelter, Tenants Queensland and QCOSS will form a new COVID-19 Housing Security Sub-Committee.

“The Palaszczuk Government has established the COVID-19 Housing Security Sub-Committee of the Ministerial Housing Council to oversee the implementation of the response measures.”

A summary of the Guidelines includes:

  • Threshold criteria to qualify for the application of the COVID-19 rental response, that includes a 25 per cent reduction in income, or where rent exceeds 30 per cent of the tenant’s income.
  • Tenants can be asked to provide the same proof of finances to property managers just as they would when starting a tenancy.
  • Clear guidance on access for the sale of the property, virtual rental inspections and access for essential repairs and maintenance.
  • A 75 per cent income loss threshold before a tenant can end a tenancy with a 7-day cap on break lease fees.
  • Limiting any extension on the term of a tenancy agreement during the COVID-19 period to September 30, 2020 unless agreed otherwise by the owner and tenant, or there is an appropriate ground to end the tenancy.

ENDS

Media contact – Rosie Gilbert 0466 834 330 Sourced from www.statements.qld.gov.au 19th April 2020

April 19th 3.25pm RTA responds COVID-19 (novel coronavirus): Information for the Queensland residential rental sector 

Latest information (sourced in part from www.rta.qld.gov.au) 19th April 2020 Updated by RTA 18 April 2020

The Queensland Government has announced several proposed measures to support sustainable tenancies in the residential rental sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We know our customers are keen to understand and prepare for any possible changes to their tenancy rights and responsibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please note that current tenancy legislation still applies. Any proposed new measures are subject to legislative changes being passed by Parliament. Thank you for your understanding during these unprecedented times.

You can learn more about the proposed measures, and access tenancy information and support, by:

  • visiting the new COVID-19 Residential Rental Hub
  • 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.

Now is the time for tenants and property owners and managers to work through this situation together.

Tenants - talk to your property manager or the owner to make them aware of your situation and to request the changes you need to your rent arrangements. Put in writing any agreement you reach with the property owner or manager about rent adjustments and timelines. If you have not been significantly impacted by COVID- 19, continue to meet your tenancy obligations including paying rent and other responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008.

Property owners and managers - consider requests for changes to rent arrangements including rent adjustments if your tenant is experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. Put in writing any agreement you reach with the tenant about rent adjustments and timelines. If you are not significantly impacted by COVID-19, continue to honour your existing responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008.

Tenants and property owners and managers are encouraged to agree on solutions together. If this is not possible, conciliation through the RTA will be a mandatory process for COVID-19 related disputes, subject to legislative amendments.

The RTA encourages all parties be understanding and reasonable in their dealings with each other, and to follow the advice of the National Cabinet and State and Commonwealth agencies in relation to health, self-isolation and social distancing measures that have been announced or are enforceable in Queensland.

April 19th 7.30am Part of an opinion piece The Sunday Mail 19th April 2020 page 57

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April 18th 4.35pm Renters will now be forced to prove they can't pay rent during coronavirus restrictions, Queensland Minister says (ABC news article)

Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni said renters suffering financial difficulty due to coronavirus would have to provide evidence of lost income if they wanted to be covered by a freeze on evictions.

"They are that you've lost more than 25 per cent of your income, or that you've lost so much of your income that you're paying more than 30 per cent of your income on rent and you can't afford the other necessities of life," he said.

"We will have a system in place to support the owner and it will include full disclosure of the financial circumstances of a tenant through a conciliation process." 

Mr de Brenni said renters would have to meet a high threshold if they wanted to break their lease.

"There are limited circumstances in which we will allow a tenant to break their lease with a week's notice," Mr de Brenni said.

Inspections would be able to take place if a landlord wanted to sell their property and there was no health risk.

However, if a tenant was self-isolating or in quarantine, a virtual inspection would be able to take place.

Property agents and owners would still be able to access the property for emergency and essential repairs, for example smoke alarm repairs. Read full article here.

April 18th 10.35am The Queensland Government Hub - information for property owners 

We will know more when the Queensland Parliament sit this coming Wednesday 22nd April.

Last updated:

 17th April 2020

April 18th 6am Door shut on rent rorts The Courier Mail 

Courier Mail 18 04 2020 Door shut on rent rorts

April 17th 5pm Until next week - my final post for this week

My last update until next week.

As I suspected given developments over the last 24 hours.. I suspect the Act (or the Queen as I say in training) will have an amendment to allow for the regulations (Prince Charles as my training reference) to be implemented. This will mean a regulation allowing for a possible “practice guide” during a certain period.

We will learn together next week.

 

April 17th 2.30pm My personal Facebook post to the Queensland Housing Minister

17 04 2020

April 17th 2pm - An update which we all hope is the last one for the week until next week

As I’ve said In recent podcasts, and it’s always the same, the recent dispute regarding the Queensland Government proposed tenancy law disputes is not about anti tenant. Goodness, they are people like you and I. It’s about fairness and balance for we are all in this together. Well done to the LNP and the Government who are listening.

The Government put our industry into turmoil Thursday before Good Friday unnecessarily with release of the Hub and more. They appear to be correcting and all we can do is wait and hope they make it balanced remembering there’s more than one part of the sector hurting.

 April 17th 11.15am Interview with Alan Jones and Queensland Housing Minister

Click here to listen to the interview. 

April 17th 8.30am Housing Minister Queensland statement 

Tenancy law update - The Government are listening Queensland.

Short podcast with an update as at 8.30am 17th April 2020. Listen here.

 Below is a Facebook post from the Housing Minister and an update. Great to see reconsideration is being given as 'we are all in this together', 

UPDATE: Government continues to listen on temporary COVID-19 Tenancy measures

Guidelines are still under development to resolve any concerns before Parliament considered the residential tenancy package.

The Palaszczuk Government is continuing to listen and work with stakeholders in the finalisation of new temporary COVID-19 tenancy measures.

The underlying purpose of the moratorium is to sustain tenancies during the COVID-19 pandemic period as this is the best possible outcome for owners, property managers and tenants.

The Guidelines for Residential Tenancies Impacted by COVID-19 will be published to provide further clarity to the industry.

Queensland was one of the first states out of the gate and clarifications to the framework will be addressed through stakeholder consultation on guidelines.

There is also the strong expectation that banks continue to offer assistance to property owners".

The Courier Mail 17th April 2020

The Courier Mail 17 04 2020

 

 

 

April 16th 4pm Queensland Housing Minister statement - GOVERNMENT CONTINUES TO LISTEN ON TEMPORARY COVID-19 TENANCY MEASURES

The Palaszczuk Government will continue to listen and work with stakeholders in the finalisation of new temporary COVID-19 tenancy measures.
Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni said the underlying purpose of the moratorium is to sustain tenancies during the COVID-19 pandemic period as this is the best possible outcome for owners, property managers and tenants.

Mr de Brenni said guidelines would be worked through with stakeholders representing tenants, property managers and owners to resolve any concerns before Parliament considered the package.

The Guidelines for Residential Tenancies Impacted by COVID-19 would be published to provide further clarity to the industry.

“Queensland was one of the first states out of the gate," the Minister said.

“Clarifications to the framework will be addressed through stakeholder consultation on guidelines.

“There is also the strong expectation that banks continue to offer assistance to property owners.” 

Mr de Brenni said that despite some misinformation that had been circulated, no framework introduced in Queensland advocated for a permanent reduction in rent.

“It is plain wrong to say that our framework allows tenants to unilaterally demand a rent reduction, or leave the property without first proving they have lost their job and are in significant hardship.

“What is true, is that tenants affected by income loss due to coronavirus can apply for Commonwealth income support and ask to negotiate a temporary and fair rent reduction, which will be supported by an independent conciliation process to ensure that no party gets ripped off.

“Coronavirus-affected tenants must be able to provide proof, but detailed personal information needs only to be provided to the Residential Tenancies Authority.

“This system is designed to protect property owners by ensuring there is complete clarity around the terms and duration of any temporary arrangements.

“Additionally, an increased set of grounds upon which a property owner can take back their property have been proposed, which include the need to move in, the need to sell the property, damage to the property or anti-social behaviour that breaches the rental agreement."

The framework, published on Thursday 9 April, outlines a temporary and targeted package, with Guidelines to address matters including substantiating loss of income, eligibility for the framework and duration of application of the framework.

The government has encouraged all parties to consider the frequently asked questions published on the covid19.qld.gov.au/the-hub website and indicated the Guidelines would be published in coming days.

Mr de Brenni said the Queensland framework and Guidelines were designed to enable the government to respond flexibly to the concerns of tenants and property owners due to the changing nature of the pandemic.

Australia’s largest states have all now announced their framework to implement the Prime Minister’s moratorium on evictions with most jurisdictions in majority alignment.

Since Queensland announced its COVID-19 rental framework last week, Victoria, Western Australia, and New South Wales have since released their frameworks to implement the freeze on evictions across the country.  

Sourced from the Queensland Housing Minister website here.

April 16th 12.50pm LNP Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington MP regarding proposed Queensland tenancy laws

LNP Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington MP thanks for the below post. (sourced from Facebook).

“It's important during this health crisis we get the balance right when supporting our most vulnerable.

Unfortunately, the Palaszczuk Labor Government has introduced the most unfair system in the nation which will lead to a breakdown in relationships between tenants and property owners and completely overwhelm the Residential Tenancies Authority.

It's not fair that mum and dad property owners have to cop the brunt of the financial pain they will be dealt under Labor's response to coronavirus. Many of these people are struggling themselves.

Property rights have been thrown out the window.

Just to give you some background - Labor's Renter Protection Package means tenants won't have to give information about financial hardship, there could be an automatic right to a 6-month tenancy agreement extension if the agreement was due to expire within the initial freeze period and the Queensland Government is the only one that is introducing rent waivers, where the owner just has to cop it.

Property owners can’t be left shouldering the pandemic fallout alone.”

April 16th 11.30am Queensland Human Rights Act and property owners

The answer to this question is too legal in my position. I have been considering any possible connection between section 24 of the Human Rights Act (QLD) the Labor Government implemented. Given their proposed reforms to tenancy law during Covid19 crisis (without public consultation nor draft legislation available).

Below is not current law but Government response to the question about inspections (to name one matter that is currently lawful to do in Queensland), 

  1. Can my property owner continue with inspections, including open homes?

During the COVID-19 health emergency, open homes are not allowed.

Additionally, you will have the right to refuse entry to the property by an owner or agent/manager for non-essential reasons (including routine inspections), particularly if you or a member of your household has a higher risk profile if exposed to COVID-19.

Inspections can still be done via video conference, detailed photos or by appointment while observing social distancing and hygiene protocols. Refer to Queensland Health for information on the current public health directions.

While, as a tenant, you are under no legal obligation to conduct virtual inspections it is important that all parties communicate openly and respectfully and try to establish an agreed way to work during this difficult time. Any agreement should be recorded in writing. All parties should advise each other early of any health, safety or financial impacts if the inspection does or doesn’t occur.

24 Property rights

(1) All persons have the right to own property alone or in association with others.

(2) A person must not be arbitrarily deprived of the person’s property.

April 16th 9.20am What can you do regarding the proposed Queensland rental law changes? A podcast

What can you do regarding proposed Queensland tenancy laws? Property agents, managers, licensees and property owners. Podcast here.

April 16th 7am LNP Queensland Shadow Housing Minister regarding proposed rental laws

Whilst this is promising (hope dies last), we must remember Labor have a majority Government in Queensland.

It would take Labor members to “cross the floor” / vote against their own party when bill debated. It can happen albeit unusual. Particularly with the state election coming up in October.

Please contact your local state member and reminder I have a template to use and make your final edit if need at my public running blog. Scroll down to April 15th 10am. 

Facebook post Michael Hart MP LNP. Shadow Housing Minister Queensland.

“It’s a long one but stick with me .... We return to Parliament next week to debate the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s Renter Protection Package.

The LNP has concerns about the measures being proposed, we feel these unfairly disadvantage sections of the property industry.

Where tenants have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, it would be ideal for mum and dad property owners to work out a solution that is in the best interests of all concerned. In this regard, our position has always been that any legislative changes must take a balanced approach and should support the entire rental market – not just one segment.

We are mindful that the measures recently announced by the Government could have unintended consequences in terms of the impact on property owners, as well as tenants. It could under-mine confidence for people to invest in real estate, thereby reducing the amount of accommodation available for rent and increasing future rents.

The LNP is working closely with stakeholders such as the REIQ in an endeavour to secure a fairer framework for everyone, because we are all in this together and there should be a shared responsibility.

Accordingly, we will be calling on the Labor Government to adopt a more balanced approach, including for the Renter Protection Package –

- Rent deferrals rather than permanent rent waiver rights for tenants, with no interest accrued for any rent deferred

- Establish a minimum income reduction threshold for tenants before they qualify for protection measures (as adopted in NSW)

- Any rent reduction request should be substantiated by evidence, as the government requires for applications to their rental assistance grant program

- Broaden the range of activities allowed to continue for property entry - Remove the one week’s notice to break lease right for tenants - Remove the proposed automatic right to a 6-month tenancy extension Queensland is the only jurisdiction that has many of these provisions, which tip the balance of the package firmly to one side. Furthermore, the general principle should be that for those tenants whose circumstances have not changed”

April 15th 5.20pm What the Queensland Government are proposing for tenancy law changes 

The below is not LAW at this stage. Queensland Parliament sit on the 22nd April 2020. No draft legislation relating to the information below has been made available.
The Queensland Government’s package of measures includes:
Putting a freeze on evictions due to rent arrears for 6 months (from 29 March 2020) for Queensland tenants experiencing financial distress due to the impacts of COVID-19. Landlords/lessors/agents and tenants are encouraged to talk about new arrangements.
Ensuring tenants and property owners work together, with conciliation to be mandatory to reach an agreed outcome.
Reinforcing to tenants they have a right to refuse entry for non-essential reasons (including routine inspections), particularly if you or a member of your household has a higher risk profile if exposed to COVID-19.
Ensuring debts don’t accrue for tenants and that they will not be placed on a tenancy database if they are experiencing hardship.
Providing support for Queenslanders experiencing domestic and family violence.
Introducing a cap on break lease penalties.
The above sourced from RTA website 15th April 2020

April 15th 2.55pm Current Status of QCAT Residential Tenancy Disputes

Residential tenancy disputes are dealt with by QCAT under the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008. In regional Queensland, the Magistrates Court deals with these disputes, acting as QCAT.

QCAT is currently receiving many enquiries about the rights of tenants and landlords in relation to evictions under the Act following recent announcements of a “moratorium” on tenancy eviction proceedings.

In that regard, it has been reported that the National Cabinet agreed to a moratorium on evictions over the next six months for residential tenancies “in financial distress who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of the coronavirus” (Prime Minister’s Media Statement, 29 March 2020).

Notwithstanding this announcement, no Queensland laws relating to the rights and liabilities of residential landlords and tenants have been repealed or amended at this point in time.

Accordingly, QCAT continues to apply the law as it stands, and QCAT’s process for tenancy matters has not changed.

If and when new laws come into effect, QCAT will immediately apply them as appropriate.

We will notify you of any changes as soon as possible and keep you updated as further information comes to hand.

Sourced from QCAT website 15th April 2020

April 15th 10am FOR immediate use and current information as at this date and time - Draft email template to send to your local state member Queensland - Word document of below here.

A link to find your local state member can be found here.

Dear insert name of your local member here A link to find your local state member can be found here.

The Real Estate Industry like most industries is in turmoil due to Covid19 (Coronavirus). The difference for our sector is the Labor Government have released information without any legislative change which is throwing the industry in further chaos, fear and confusion. All parties (tenants, lessors and property agents) to residential tenancy contracts are being heavily impacted due to this.

We write you to ask for your assistance and understanding as our state representative in the Queensland Parliament and request urgent intervention.

Currently all we have are Government “words” on their new website called the “Hub”. There has been no draft legislation released as at 15th April 2020 10am. The Government released the hub information on the 9th April in the absence of any legislation. The State Government released "HUB" link can be found here. This is leading to confusion, fear, uncertainty and unnecessary disputes in already trying times. We particularly make mention of the Q & A part of the “Hub” relating to what tenants can do, and what lessor cannot. It is of utmost concern and urgent attention is required as a representative of the Government, regardless of political persuasion.

As our state representative, can you please advise when the draft legislation will be released? Will there be public consultation? We can be contacted on the following details set out below and thank you for your urgent assistance and attention to prevent another industry being significantly impacted during these times unnecessarily.

Insert your details etc

Word document of above here.

April 15th 8.50am Real Estate Excellence Academy Members and industry - Queensland

Where do I start ...

Firstly, hang in there.

We actually have no draft legislation so I can’t be specific other than work with current laws.

All we have is government “words” and a new website called the Hub. I’m being cautious given there is no draft legislation to speak to. As per my post and blog update yesterday (and emails to you), a special sitting date has been set for 22nd April for Queensland Parliament. Nothing has been released as draft law at this point.

A link to find your local state member can be found here.

The "HUB" link here.

 

April 14th 11am Queensland Parliament new sitting date - 22nd April

The Queensland Parliament website has just been updated with a new sitting date of 22nd April 2020. I will keep monitoring as they will release the Notice Paper and any draft legislation relating to the RTRA Act.

 

Parliament sitting date as at 14 04 2020 v 2

April 13th 2pm Queensland schools term 2

From 20 April 2020, Queensland students will be moving to a home-based learning model for the first five weeks of Term 2.

During this time all students who are able to learn from home should do so. From the start of Term 2 until 22 May 2020, all students will be learning from home, except for students in the following categories:

  • Children of essential workers on days when they are not able to be supervised at home and no other arrangements can be made. Essential worker means any worker who must continue to attend their workplace for essential business during this time. Click here. to review this information and more.

April 10th 8am - NEW RTA Form 18d - Email sent to RTA expressing concerns and why. Podcast regarding below here.

Real Estate Excellence has written to the RTA this morning expressing concerns and why regarding the temporary NEW RTA Form 18d. 

Good morning RTA

I write noting the Government media release, the new hub and the new RTA approved Form 18d.

The newly released approved Form 18d correctly states  ‘proposed legislation’.

My concerns for the industry whilst there is no legislation is as follows.

Generally speaking, many landlord insurance require a new agreement to be in place for coverage in the event of a claim. Is there information the RTA has relating to an approved variation? My advice to Real Estate Excellence members includes a mutual agreement ending of the existing fixed term agreement, and then a new agreement entered into with the agreed reduced rent including refund of part bond as needed due to the reduction in weekly rent.

Section 93 and 53 are of concern also without any emergency COVID19 exemption legislation being in place.

Rent cannot be increased during a six month period as per section 93 below of the RTRA Act. 

93 Minimum period before rent can be increased

(1) This section applies to rent (the existing rent) payable to a lessor or lessor’s agent by the tenant of premises under a residential tenancy agreement.

(2) The lessor or lessor’s agent must not increase the existing rent less than 6 months since the date the existing rent became payable by the tenant.

Maximum penalty—20 penalty units.

(3) Nothing prevents a lessor or lessor’s agent from giving notice of an increase in rent within 6 months since the last increase provided the increase does not take effect until 6 months or more since the last increase.[s 94]

(4) This section applies whether the increase in the existing rent is to take effect during an existing agreement or from one agreement to the next.

(5) This section also applies—

(a) if at least 1 of the tenants responsible for the existing rent will be subject to the increase in rent; and

(b) whether or not the lessor who increases the rent is the same person as the lessor who last increased the rent.

(6) This section does not apply if—

(a) the lessor is the chief executive of the department in which the Housing Act 2003 is administered, acting on behalf of the State; or

(b) the lessor is the State and the tenant is an officer or employee of the State.

53 Contracting out prohibited

(1) An agreement or arrangement is void to the extent to which it purports to exclude, change or restrict the application or operation of a provision of this Act about the terms of a residential tenancy agreement.

(2) A person must not enter into an agreement or arrangement with the intention, either directly or indirectly, of defeating, evading or preventing the operation of this Act.

Maximum penalty—50 penalty units.

(3) In this section—

agreement includes an agreement that is not a residential tenancy agreement.

April 9th 1.25pm Special COVID-19 Protections for residential tenants and owners Queensland

Real Estate Excellence members, we are emailing you from 3.30pm this afternoon a template email to send to your lessors plus will be at member online in Coronavirus folder 

Coat of Arms

Media Release

JOINT STATEMENT

Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
The Honourable Jackie Trad

Minister for Housing and Public Works, Minister for Digital Technology and Minister for Sport
The Honourable Mick de Brenni

Special COVID-19 Protections for residential tenants and owners

The Palaszczuk Government has unveiled a package of measures to implement the freeze on evictions.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad is encouraging tenants, property owners and agents to work together to sustain tenancies during this public health emergency.

“We’ve all heard of stories of too many Queenslanders who are doing it tough right now, and the Palaszczuk Government recognises the hardship they are suffering.

“It’s not in the interest of anyone to have tenants left without a place to go when we are fighting to prevent the spread of a deadly disease.

“We will not allow anyone to be evicted because they can’t pay their rent as a result of this crisis.”

Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni said that Queenslanders would always rally to support each other when times were tough, and that he was encouraged by the already high number of people resolving issues and supporting each other.

“Neither landlords nor tenants are to blame for this, and now is the time for them to work together to get through this pandemic” Mr de Brenni said.

“The Palaszczuk Government has launched an online rental hub at www.covid19.qld.gov.au/the-hub to provide all of the information and resources to support discussions between property owners and renters.

“For those that can’t reach an agreement, there will be compulsory conciliation for COVID-19  related disputes between tenants and landlords through the Residential Tenancies Authority.

“In asking tenants and property owners to find a solution that works for all parties, the RTA will have clear guidelines that prohibit a requirement to draw on superannuation, or sell basic personal assets.”

Freeze on evictions

Mr de Brenni said the Palaszczuk Government will implement the National Cabinet decision to freeze evictions due to rent arrears for Queensland tenants impacted by COVID-19.

“We’re providing certainty by implementing a retrospective freeze on evictions, as of Sunday 29 March 2020.

New protections now mean that property owners will be prohibited from evicting a tenant if their lease expires during COVID-19 public health crisis.

“This means that a property owner must offer an extension to the lease for at least a further 6 months,” said Mr de Brenni

“Alternatively, if a tenant cannot pay rent due to impacts of coronavirus and wants to end their lease early, they will be allowed to do so.

“Tenants will still be required to demonstrate respect for their property and neighbours by maintaining their home in accordance with their tenancy agreement.”

Rental Support

The Deputy Premier said the Palaszczuk Government had also introduced failsafe measures to support tenants experiencing hardship and unable to access or waiting for other financial support be there for Queensland tenants if all else failed.

“New eligibility criteria is now in place for rental grants of up to four weeks rent, or a maximum of $2,000.

“This is a last resort for Queenslanders in need of support while they are waiting for federal government support to prevent homelessness.”

DFV Protections

Mr de Brenni said the Palaszczuk Government would also implement legislative protections that would  allow Queenslanders experiencing domestic and family violence to leave a rental property in a hurry.

“We want all Queenslanders to be safe at home, but for some people this is just not the case.

“If you need to escape in a hurry, we won’t allow paperwork to stand in your way.

“Immediate support to end tenancies quickly, change locks without seeking approval, access bond and separate from co-tenancies will be introduced.”

ENDS

Media contacts:

Deputy Premier’s office:     Geoff Breusch 0417 272 875

Minister de Brenni’s office:  Rosie Gilbert 0466 834 330

Email sent to Queensland mailing list - Stacey Holt 1.40pm

Good afternoon, the above media release has just been released. Please note there are still no specific law changes. The release is a little frustrating as we do not have the detail on specific legislation.  Such as “This means that a property owner must offer an extension to the lease for at least a further 6 months,” said Mr de Brenni. Will there be exemptions such as lessor needing the property. I am still reviewing the information as released and considering but without the actual draft legislation, it is a difficult to formulate best practice.

This release is not overly helpful in my professional view without the draft legislation (devil is in the detail). It does however provide us some insight into Government intentions. We shall continue to keep you up to date the best we can and remind to please keep an eye on the running public blog. 

April 8th 3pm Part of email sent to FREE Queensland mailing list (including Real Estate Excellence members) - IMPORTANT - no laws have changed for residential tenancy in Queensland

Good afternoon,  

As a result of COVID19 (Coronavirus) we wish to remind everyone that to date there have been no law changes for tenancy in Queensland.

Listen to latest information about what is happening, possibly when and more at the podcast here, plus continue to visit the public running blog when you can here. Although we do not specialise in commercial tenancies and matters, as a courtesy to industry, the blog was updated yesterday with commercial tenancy changes and the temporary new code of conduct.

We sincerely wish you a Happy Easter as we all do the best we can during this period. Take care 

April 7th 4.30pm Commericial tenancies and the Federal Government

The National Cabinet agreed that states and territories would implement the attached mandatory Code of Conduct (the Code), including via legislation or regulation as appropriate, to implement the principles agreed on Friday 3 April. The Code builds on the draft codes submitted by landlord and tenant representative bodies in the commercial property sector.

The purpose of the Code is to impose a set of good faith leasing principles for application to commercial tenancies (including retail, office and industrial) between owners/operators/other landlords and tenants, in circumstances where the tenant is a small-medium sized business (annual turnover of up to $50 million) and is an eligible business for the purpose of the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper programme.

National Cabinet agreed that there would be a proportionality to rent reductions based on the tenant’s decline in turnover to ensure that the burden is shared between landlords and tenants. The Code provides a proportionate and measured burden share between the two parties while still allowing tenants and landlords to agree to tailored, bespoke and appropriate temporary arrangements that take account of their particular circumstances.
National Cabinet again noted that it expects Australian and foreign banks along with other financial institutions operating in Australia, to support landlords and tenants with appropriate flexibility as they work to implement the mandatory Code.

The Commonwealth Government is also acting as a model landlord by waiving rents for all its small and medium enterprises and not-for-profit tenants within its owned and leased property across Australia.

The Rent Relief Policy will include a mutual obligation requirement on the small and medium sized enterprises and not-for-profit tenants to continue to engage their employees through the JobKeeper initiative where eligible, and if applicable, provide rent relief to their subtenants.

National Cabinet Mandatory Code of Conduct - SME Commercial Leasing Principles during COVID-19 Sourced from pm.gov.au 

Updated 8th April 5pm The Government’s mandatory Code of Conduct: What does it mean for landlords? Sourced article here.

Updated 9th April 1.55pm Government moves to protect retail and commercial tenants

Coat of Arms

Media Release

Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
The Honourable Jackie Trad

Palaszczuk Government moves to protect retail and commercial tenants

Commercial and retail tenants will be protected from evictions under a series of measures to protect businesses and jobs unveiled by the Palaszczuk Government.

Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said the measures would be underpinned by $400 million in land tax relief for property owners, which must be passed on to tenants.

That $400 million comes on top of more than $3 billion in measures already announced by the Palaszczuk Government to support Queensland businesses and jobs.

“We’ve heard loud and clear the concerns of people worried about losing their home or business premises through no fault of their own, so we’ve been working hard to put protections in place to stop that happening,” Ms Trad said.

“Since February, we have announced more than $3 billion in measures to sustain businesses through the coronavirus downturn, but when it’s over, they need to know their shops and tenancies are still there.

“Whether they’ve been required to close their doors or not, many businesses have seen their cash flow dry up, making it harder to pay the rent.

“To ensure commercial or residential property owners don’t face undue hardship on their own, we will be offering a three-month rebate of land tax for 2019-20, followed by a three month deferral of land tax 2020-21 for property owners who agree to provide rent relief for tenants affected by the coronavirus downturn.”

A landowner can apply for land tax relief if they meet criteria including:

  •         the landowner rents all or part of a property to a tenant/s OR all or part of a property is currently available for lease; AND
  •         at least one tenant’s ability to pay their normal rent OR the landowner’s ability to secure a tenant is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; AND
  •         the landowner provides rent relief to an affected tenant/s commensurate with the amount of the land tax rebate OR if the property is unable to be leased, the landowner requires land tax relief to meet their financial obligations (such as debt repayments); AND
  •         the landowner complies with new leasing requirements, even if the relevant lease is not regulated.

Property Council Queensland Executive Director, Chris Mountford, said the land tax relief was an effective way for the Government to support businesses through this crisis. 

“By granting this relief, landlords will have a greater capacity to support tenants that have been adversely affected COVID-19, taking pressure off their cash flow at this critical time,” Mr Mountford said.

“We know the circumstances that landlords and tenants are finding themselves in vary greatly. A ‘one size fits all’ approach to these challenges simply does not work.   

“Today’s announcements are a demonstration that the State Government is stepping up and supporting tenants and landlords as they work this through.  

“The Queensland Government is rightly encouraging outcomes that ensure the economic impact is shared fairly among tenants, landlords, financiers, and the Government.” 

The Deputy Premier said the ban on eviction would be underpinned by new laws.

“We’ll make changes to legislation that will ban evictions on the grounds of financial distress, prevent rent increases, except in cases where business turnover has increased, and allow leases to be extended for the term of a rent waiver that has been agreed to by property owner and tenant,” Ms Trad said.

“By working together, we can protect homes, businesses and jobs as much as possible through this downturn.”

From next Tuesday (14 April) morning people will be able to apply for land tax relief, by going to qld.gov.au/landtax

The Palaszczuk Government has also announced a package of measures to ensure residential tenants don’t lose their homes as a result of COVID-19 hardship.

Queensland will move quickly to legislate to implement protections for retail, commercial and residential tenants.

The Prime Minister has released the SME Leasing Principles During COVID-19 as outlined in the National Cabinet Mandatory Code of Conduct, as attached here.

The Palaszczuk Government will consult with stakeholders on the development of systems and implementation of the code in Queensland.

Media Contact: Geoff Breusch 0417 272 875

April 7th 3pm RTA update 

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.

April 6th 6.30am Eviction bans coming and tenants must keep paying rent (podcast)

Eviction bans coming and tenants must keep paying rent. A new podcast listen here.

 April 5th 8am Platinum PME and Platinum non PME Real Estate Excellence membrs - new best practice forms and more

aaaa

April 4th 6.20am The Courier Mail page 7 

Pay rent

April 3rd 1.10pm Code of Practice coming for commercial tenancies - Prime Minister media conference (Real Estate Excellence does not specialise in commerical tenancies, but will be providing information to assist people who may want this information)

It is not yet finalised and is expected in coming days. I will update the blog when more information is available. 

Updated 4.45pm Commercial Tenancies

National Cabinet made further progress on the issue of commercial tenancies. They have agreed that a mandatory code of conduct guided by certain principles will be developed and subsequently legislated by State and Territory Governments to apply for tenancies where the tenant is eligible for the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper assistance and is a small- or medium-sized enterprise (less than $50 million turnover).

The principles that guide the code will be:

(a) Where it can, rent should continue to be paid, and where there is financial distress as a result of COVID-19 (for example, the tenant is eligible for assistance through the JobKeeper program), tenants and landlords should negotiate a mutually agreed outcome

(b) There will be a proportionality to rent reductions based on the decline in turnover to ensure that the burden is shared between landlords and tenants

(c) There will be a prohibition on termination of leases for non-payment of rent (lockouts and eviction)

(d) There will be a freeze on rent increases (except for turnover leases)

(e) There will be a prohibition on penalties for tenants who stop trading or reduce opening hours

(f) There will be a prohibition on landlords passing land tax to tenants (if not already legislated)

(g) There will be a prohibition on landlords charging interest on unpaid rent

(h) There will be a prohibition on landlords from making a claim to a bank guarantee or security deposit for non-payment of rent

(i) Ensure that any legislative barriers or administrative hurdles to lease extensions are removed (so that a tenant and landlord could agree a rent waiver in return for a lease extension)

For landlords and tenants that sign up to the code of conduct, States and Territories have agreed to look at providing the equivalent of at least a three month land tax waiver and three month land tax deferral on application for eligible landowners, with jurisdictions to continue to monitor the situation. Landlords must pass on the benefits of such moves to the tenants. In cases where parties have signed to the code of conduct, the ability for tenants to terminate leases as mentioned in the National Cabinet Statement on 29 March 2020 will not apply. Mediation will be provided as needed through existing State and Territory mechanisms.

The proposed code of conduct will be discussed at the next meeting of the National Cabinet on Tuesday 7 April. Sourced from www.liberal.org.au 

 

ASIC has written a letter to the real estate institutes in each state outlining concerns about some real estate agents who are advising tenants to apply for early release of their superannuation.

Read the letter (PDF 103 KB)

 

April 3rd 6.20am What does a coronavirus eviction moratorium mean for Australian renters and businesses? 

What is a moratorium?

We'll back up a moment to explain this.

It's means a temporary hold on something. Often that's a legal obligation, like following a contract and paying your rent.

So that means all evictions have been banned now, right?

As of today, we don't know exactly. Read article here.

 

April 3rd 6am The Courier Mail page 2 "Punted despite bans on evictions"

Courier Mail 03 04 2020 Punted despite bans on evictions

April 2nd 4.25pm Queensland new laws coming - Parliament needs to be recalled - no date yet known

Danielle O’Neal, Jessica Marszalek, The Courier-Mail

PREMIER Annastacia Palaszczuk said Parliament would be recalled to push through legislation protecting renters.

New laws are needed to instate a national moratorium on rental terminations to protect tenants who have lost their jobs.

Ms Palaszczuk said she did not know the date as it would depend on when legislation was ready.

However, she said the Parliament would only be recalled to deal with urgent COVID-19-related legislation.

It comes after Treasurer Jackie Trad said she understood people were “incredibly fearful” that they may not be able to pay their rent and pledged that the government will backdate the eviction moratorium in Queensland to March 29.

In a live Q&A streamed on Facebook, Ms Trad said the state government had set up a grant program that offers an emergency rental assistance payment of up to $500 a week, for up to four weeks, for Queenslanders who cannot make rent.

This coronavirus article is unlocked and free to read in the interest of community health and safety. For full access to our journalism – and to download the digital edition of the newspaper as it is printed every day – subscribe here or couriermail.com.au/subscribe (currently a 28-day free trial)

“That is pretty obvious out there in the community that people are incredibly fearful about having an income and being able to make rent, being able to put food on the table, being able to make other sorts of cost-of-living obligations like utility bills,” Ms Trad said.

“We have in fact set up a grants system for those people in the private rental market, so where you’ve lost your job, you’re not going to get any income support from Centrelink until at least the 27th of April.

“The Queensland government has an assistance program where we will provide you $500 a week to help you with your rent payment and it’s a really simple process.”

The payments can be accessed by calling the Residential Tenancies Authority on 1800 497 161.

Ms Trad also acknowledged the state government would be writing the eviction moratorium into law “for tenants who can’t make rent because they’ve lost their job due to coronavirus or the impacts, either directly or indirectly, of coronavirus”.

“There will be an absolute moratorium, prohibition, written into law around evicting renters because they can’t pay their rent and that will be backdated to the day the Prime Minister announced that out of the national cabinet,” she said.

However, she said the eviction moratorium is for people who have been “genuinely impacted” by a coronavirus.

“For tenants that do the things that would ordinarily see them evicted – if they significantly damage the property or the owners themselves move in because of financial distress – then that will still occur, this isn’t a blanket prohibition,” Ms Trad said.

“But where you have lost your job, your hours have been cut, and where you genuinely cannot make your rent, you will not be evicted and we will guarantee that by law and we will also help you make up the shortfall in terms of your rent payments until you start getting some income support, or hopefully get another job.”

Ms Trad said the government is considering renting out hotels to house the homeless.

“We are looking at every option, including hotels for those who find themselves homeless,” she said.

“We are looking at absolutely everything, including head leases in hotels or motels to make sure that we can properly look after those who are most vulnerable in our community.”

April 2nd 1.45pm Prime Minister annoucement - National Cabinet is also considering short-term intervention for commercial tenancy arrangements - National Cabinet meet again tomorrow.

Around one million families are set to receive free child care during the coronavirus pandemic under a plan from the Morrison Government that will help deliver hip pocket relief and help the early childhood education and care sector make it through to the other side of this crisis. Read more here.

 

April 2nd 8.15am Are you eligible for a Queensland COVID-19 Rental Grant? 

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

Funding is available for Queenslanders who have lost their job due to the impacts of COVID-19 and who do not have access to other financial assistance.

This grant is only available to Queenslanders who need it the most and have exhausted all other options.

The COVID-19 Rental Grant is a one-off payment of up to 4 weeks rent (maximum of $2000) available to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic who do not have access to other financial assistance.

The grant is paid directly to your lessor.

 Before you apply

You must have had a conversation with your lessor and be able to provide evidence that the lessor has declined all attempts for you to make a payment arrangement. Learn more

 

April 2nd 7.15am Emergency accommodation and Homelessness support

If you’re experiencing homelessness or are housed but at risk of homelessness—including experiencing domestic and family violence you can call:

  • Homelessness Hotline: 1800 474 753
  • DVConnect: 1800 811 811; Men's line: 1800 600 636
  • Click here for more information and assistance

The following information sourced from here.

Preparing your budget

A budget is a simple way to keep track of your money. It may help you save for upcoming bills or unplanned expenses. Try out the interactive budget planner.

No Interest Loan Scheme

The No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) provides individuals and families on a low income access to safe, fair and affordable credit. Programs are run by local community organisations at over 600 locations across Australia.

To qualify you must:

  • have a Health Care Card/Pension Card or be on a low income
  • reside in your current premises for more than 3 months
  • show a willingness and capacity to repay.

In certain circumstances, the community organisation may consider amending the eligibility criteria upon loan application. Find your local provider.

Concessions

Visit the Smart Savings website to find concessions and rebates or access information about concession cards.

Rent or mortgage assistance

You may be eligible for rent or mortgage assistance through:

Financial advice

Financial counsellors can provide you with advice about your finances, which may include:

  • assessing your financial position
  • choosing products to suit your financial position and needs
  • identifying your financial goals
  • helping you with decisions about how to better use your money.

If you need help to improve your financial situation you can:

Financial and emotional support

  • Centrelink delivers a range of payments and services for people at times of major change.
  • Newstart Allowance offers financial help if you are looking for work. It supports you while you do activities that may increase your chances of finding a job.
  • Youth Allowance offers financial help for people aged 16 to 24 years who are studying full-time, undertaking a full-time Australian Apprenticeship, training, looking for work or sick.

If you are out of work, financial and emotional support is also available from these community organisations:

Support from charities

Charity organisations provide a range of support directly to people in need. 

April 2nd 6.30am QCAT - Department of Justice Facebook page post (made 1st April 2020)

Justice Department Qld FB page 01 04 2020

April 2nd 4am Rent assistance payment of up to $500 a week - Queensland - Download PDF version of below statement to use and send to tenants, and lessors as needed and you see fit here. Listen to podcast here.  I will update the blog when more information (other than The Courier Mail article posted) comes to hand.

STATE Treasurer Jackie Trad says she understands people are “incredibly fearful” that they may not be able to pay their rent and pledged that the government will backdate the eviction moratorium in Queensland to March 29.

In a live Q&A streamed on Facebook, Ms Trad said the state government had set up a grant program that offers an emergency rental assistance payment of up to $500 a week, for up to four weeks, for Queenslanders who cannot make rent.

This coronavirus article is unlocked and free to read in the interest of community health and safety. For full access to our journalism - and to download the digital edition of the newspaper as it is printed every day - subscribe here or couriermail.com.au/subscribe (currently a 28-day free trial)

“That is pretty obvious out there in the community that people are incredibly fearful about having an income and being able to make rent, being able to put food on the table, being able to make other sorts of cost-of-living obligations like utility bills,” Ms Trad said.

“We have in fact set up a grants system for those people in the private rental market, so where you’ve lost your job, you’re not going to get any income support from Centrelink until at least the 27th of April.

“The Queensland government has an assistance program where we will provide you $500 a week to help you with your rent payment and it’s a really simple process.”

The payments can be accessed by calling the Residential Tenancies Authority on 1800 497 161.

Ms Trad also acknowledged the state government would be writing the eviction moratorium into law “for tenants who can’t make rent because they’ve lost their job due to coronavirus or the impacts, either directly or indirectly, of coronavirus”.

“There will be an absolute moratorium, prohibition, written into law around evicting renters because they can’t pay their rent and that will be backdated to the day the Prime Minister announced that out of the national cabinet,” she said.

However, she said the eviction moratorium is for people who have been “genuinely impacted” by a coronavirus.

“For tenants that do the things that would ordinarily see them evicted - if they significantly damage the property or the owners themselves move in because of financial distress - then that will still occur, this isn’t a blanket prohibition,” Ms Trad said.

“But where you have lost your job, your hours have been cut, and where you genuinely can not make your rent, you will not be evicted and we will guarantee that by law and we will also help you make up the shortfall in terms of your rent payments until you start getting some income support, or hopefully get another job.”

Ms Trad said the government is considering renting out hotels to house the homeless.

“We are looking at every option, including hotels for those who find themselves homeless,” she said.

“We are looking at absolutely everything, including head leases in hotels or motels to make sure that we can properly look after those who are most vulnerable in our community.” Download PDF of this article here.

April 1st 6.15pm Help for renters and landlords: what we know so far

There have been several major announcements in the past week, some of which impact landlords and renters – but the details remain sparse. The lack of information has created confusion for all those concerned, including the property managers who are trying to help them. 

While we wait for further clarification and information from governments, here’s a wrap of what we know so far. Read sourced article here.

 April 1st 6.20am Queensland - RTA statement from their website - no changes to any laws have been made.

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 with more information to come this week. The Queensland Government is working through ways to implement the Commonwealth Government’s proposed changes to rental arrangements as quickly as possible. www.rta.qld.gov.au 

31st March 2pm Anzac Day and Real Estate - Lest we forget

Real estate offices,  may open only for the purpose of rental transactions and must not sell real estate or conduct open house inspections. More information here.

The Trading (Allowable Hours) Act 1990  (Qld) prohibits the real estate industry from conducting the business of selling real estate on Anzac Day.

Section 34 is set out below. 

34 Real estate sales prohibited

A person must not conduct the business of selling real estate on Anzac Day.

Maximum penalty—40 penalty units.

31st March 1pm Office of Fair Trading update Queensland

Property agents - Some restrictions have been placed on property licensees regarding social distancing and open houses, and auctions. We have developed a fact sheet  that answers your frequently asked questions about your obligations under the Property Occupations Act 2014 and complying with social distancing rules.

31st March 11.45am Real Estate Excellence Platinum PME and Platinum non PME member offices 

Refer to Member online to access the many resources in the Coronavirus template folder. I will be updating the resources, and creating more when needed. 

member shot 1

Member shot 2

Member shot 3

 

31st March 11.25pm (should be 11.25am....) National Cabinet agreed to meet again on Friday 3 April 2020

We may not have any further information regarding rental law changes until the next Cabinet meeting. As per earlier posts and podcasts, if the Queensland Government release any information earlier, and or when they do, Real Estate Excellence members will be advised via email as per the "as it happens" membership update service. 

 

31st March 10.20am RTA update Queensland

RTA responds - COVID-19 (novel coronavirus): Information for the Queensland residential rental sector Latest information Updated 31 March 2020 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

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, with more information to come this week.

The Queensland Government is working through ways to implement the Commonwealth Government’s proposed changes to rental arrangements as quickly as possible.

You can learn more about the proposed measures by:

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.

With regards to specific circumstances that may occur in a tenancy at this time, the RTA acknowledges the Prime Minister's announcement on 29 March that indoor and outdoor gatherings are to be limited to two persons only, excluding household members. All Australians are advised to social distancing and self-isolation guidelines.

All parties to a tenancy agreement are encouraged to follow the advice of the National Cabinet and the social distancing measures that have been announced or are enforceable in Queensland when considering the following activities:

Routine inspections

If there is an opportunity to postpone or reschedule inspections to a time where all parties are comfortable that social distancing and self-isolation measures are being satisfied, 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, all parties need to ensure that social distancing and self-isolation measures are being met. 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 ensure that social distancing and self-isolation measures are being addressed, 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

All parties need to ensure that social distancing and self isolation measures are being addressed. 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

31st March 8.30am Queensland Rental update 31 March 2020. A new podcast link below

Click here to listen. 

30th March 4.25pm Job keeker allowance for businesses

The Morrison Government will provide a historic wage subsidy to around 6 million workers who will receive a flat payment of $1,500 per fortnight through their employer, before tax. Read more here.

 Updated 5pm Read a fact sheet from Federal Government treasury for employers here. Fact sheet for employees here.

30th March 9.30am Body Corporate information Queensland

 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)

30th March 8.10am RTA update

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

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 with more information to come this week. The Queensland Government is working through ways to implement the Commonwealth Government’s proposed changes to rental arrangements as quickly as possible.

 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
• 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.

30th March 7am There is not a rent moratorium Queensland

Listen to podcast here.

30th March 3.40am Queensland Housing Minister Facebook comment regarding tenancy law changes

The below post is from the Queensland Housing Minister Facebook page (an extract of a comment made publicly). Please review my posts following as to how the changes to Residential tenancy law have to be made.  Any change are going to take some time. In the meantime, it is the status quo noting blog post below regarding QCAT hearing changes. Real Estate Excellence Members the existing rent arrears best practice suggested policy for now is recommended.

Mick DeBrenni

29th March 8.50pm

It was extremely irresponsible and disappointing of the Federal Government to announce rent moratorium without any detail.

Note below from my blog

27th March
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".

I urge the industry to stay calm the best you can and wait for the detail and facts.

Until tomorrow...

29th March 8.30pm Part of Prime Minister Media Conference statement - Commercial and residential tenancies

As part of its work on helping businesses hibernate, National Cabinet agreed that short-term intervention is needed for commercial tenancies. Work on this has begun, but there is more to do, including for residential tenancies.

National Cabinet agreed to a moratorium on evictions over the next six months for commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of coronavirus.

Commercial tenants, landlords and financial institutions are encouraged to sit down together to find a way through to ensure that businesses can survive and be there on the other side. As part of this, National Cabinet agreed to a common set of principles, endorsed by Treasurers, to underpin and govern intervention to aid commercial tenancies as follows:

  • a short term, temporary moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent to be applied across commercial tenancies impacted by severe rental distress due to coronavirus;
  • tenants and landlords are encouraged to agree on rent relief or temporary amendments to the lease;
  • the reduction or waiver of rental payment for a defined period for impacted tenants;
  • the ability for tenants to terminate leases and/or seek mediation or conciliation on the grounds of financial distress;
  • commercial property owners should ensure that any benefits received in respect of their properties should also benefit their tenants in proportion to the economic impact caused by coronavirus;
  • landlords and tenants not significantly affected by coronavirus are expected to honour their lease and rental agreements; and
  • cost-sharing or deferral of losses between landlords and tenants, with Commonwealth, state and territory governments, local government and financial institutions to consider mechanisms to provide assistance.

National Cabinet will meet again on Monday 30th March 2020. www.pm.gov.au 

29th March 5.45 Prime Minister Media Conference

My notes - The Prime Minister stated the states and territories have agreed in principle to a moratorium on terminations/evictions of commercial and residential property. More information will come in coming days relating to commercial tenancies.  As per my blog posts below 29th March 10.10am and 27th March 1.45pm, more information is still to come for residential tenancies due to the complexities and own state/territory laws. The moratorium could be for six months. 

Updated 6.05pm Definition of moratorium

1aa legally authorized period of delay in the performance of a legal obligation or the payment of a debt
ba waiting period set by an authority
2suspension of activity

The above definition sourced from here.

Updated 7.45pm - The transcript and media release from this media conference have not yet been released. I will update the blog when the information is available. 

News article -  Coronavirus Australia: PM announces six-month moratorium on evictions as renters and landlords pushed to breaking point. Read article here.

29th March 5pm Prime Minister media conference transcript

Extracts from transcript from media conference 10am 29th March

"So I would say to employers, who I know are going through very difficult times, these changes will be announced soon and I would ask that before you make any further decisions that you take the opportunity to see the further measures that the government will be announcing, and we will be seeking to enlist you in that process. And we will be ensuring also that those who have already gone into this very devastating situation where they have had to stand down workers, that any measures we are announcing will be taking them on as well and we will be working with them to that end. "

"Now later today the National Cabinet will be meeting, as we flagged. If there is a need for me to provide further information following that National Cabinet tonight we will do that in the Blue Room later this evening, we are meeting this afternoon, not in the evening, so you can expect any press conference to be held a little earlier in the evening than we did last Sunday. And we will consider those further matters before us and if that requires me to come back to you again today then I will be doing so". 

Sourced from www.pm.gov.au 

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. Read the full announcement here.

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). Updated 4am 30th March A best practice suggested policy for this occurence has now been uploaded to Member online.

 

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

Disclaimer

The information provided by Real Estate Excellence is of a general nature only and is not intended to constitute legal advice under any circumstances. Individuals should consider their own circumstances before proceeding to rely upon any information provided by Real Estate Excellence. Whilst care has been taken in best practice advice provided, and the information contained in it has been obtained from sources that Real Estate Excellence believe to be reliable, Real Estate Excellence (including its directors, officers, employees and contractors) does not warrant, represent or guarantee the accuracy, completeness or fitness for purpose of that information. Real Estate Excellence (including its directors, officers, employees and contractors) accordingly does not accept any responsibility, liability, loss or damage whatsoever resulting from the use of the information provided. By using the services of Real Estate Excellence, Clients acknowledge that they have read, understood and accepted this disclaimer of liability.