15 Apr FAQ – COVID-19
Welcome to FAQ on Covid-19 for tenants and owners of residential investment property. We have addressed the most common questions we have been asked over the past week or so, to help everyone understand the issues and get through this difficult situation.
Firstly, we have been so heartened by the understanding and generosity of spirit from many tenants and landlords keen to help everyone work through this. Unfortunately not everyone is in a position to be as cooperative and some more difficult discussions are needed. We urge everyone to be as cooperative as possible and certainly not to profiteer from the world we find ourselves in.
There are a lot of people experiencing hardship and distress. We are doing our best to remove as much pain as possible.
At the time of posting this the Victorian Government just announced a $500 million package to help residential owners and tenants but the detail was yet to be released.
If you have a question we haven’t addressed here please email Kelly Thomas on firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Is Wood Property still opening properties for lease?
Yes, of course we are, just not the normal way an open for inspection is conducted. We are doing one on one private inspections in line with the Government’s restrictions for no more than 2 people in one place.
You can easily register for an inspection and this will be one on one.
Alternatively, we have filmed video walk through of our properties
2. I am a current tenant and have already given notice, are you still showing my property whilst we live here?
We have delayed advertising any properties for lease and only conducting inspections once the current tenant has vacated, to avoid any contact.
3. Can people still move to a new house during Covid-19?
Yes, you can, we have been speaking with removalists and they have changed how they now deal with clients, at all times we need to ensure we are adhering to the Stage 3 Restrictions in place in Victoria.
4. I am a tenant and have been directly impacted by Covid-19. Would the landlord accept a rent reduction?
We have found landlords to be receptive to discussions about a payment plans when the tenant has proven to be affected financially by COVID-19 but each case is different so please contact your property manager to discuss it.
5. I am an owner and have lost my job and finding it very difficult to meet all the property costs including my mortgage. Can you help me?
Yes we are here to do what ever we can. Please speak to your bank and we can speak to the owners corporation, the council, the water authority, the insurance company and other suppliers to help delay your costs. We will also work with your tenant who is hopefully still in a position to pay their full rent.
6. How long should a payment plan or rent reduction be for?
I wish we had this answer, unfortunately the situation is changing almost daily.
Depending on both the tenants and owners circumstances, it may be appropriate for a two-month period and then reassess. Obviously the longer the time you have a reduced rent for the longer the repayment time is likely to be so that often depends on your personal situation.
7. A payment plan to pay it back? Wait? Isn’t this just going to be a rent-free period?
This is unlikely unless your landlord agrees to a reduction in rent which they are not obliged to do. The more likely outcome is a payment plan, where a tenant’s rent may be reduced for a couple of months whilst their situation is not ideal, but a payment plan would be implemented when the tenant is financially able to pay it back.
8. What savings is the owner getting from their bank – can they pass that onto me?
In almost all circumstances the savings for owners from banks is a deferment of payments (not a waiver) and unfortunately, not all owners are eligible for such savings. A reduced income from your rent may be taken into consideration. If the owners does receive a concession from their bank they will need to pay that back. The owner too may have lost their job or be experiencing financial hardship not be in a position to pass on any concession they receive.
Should the owner wish to receive a concession or special consideration from their bank (such as a reduced payment, delay on their mortgage) they will need to provide solid evidence to their lender of their financial hardship.
9. I am a tenant and haven’t lost my job yet, but I am afraid I might. Can I just pay a reduced rent for a while?
This is a scary time. There are many people who share this concern.
Currently, you are lucky enough to still have regular income and the financial ability to pay your rent.
You should continue to honour your lease agreement during this time.
However, should your situation change, please let us know as soon as you can so we can discuss a plan for the future.
You are not currently experiencing financial hardship.
10. I am a tenant and my work has reduced my hours so I’m not getting paid as much. Can I get a reduction in my rent
The answer really depends on the extent of the reduced hours and your income. The Government have been forward thinking in implementing a higher Job Seeker payment and now with the Job Keeper payment which you or your employer may qualify for. Please call your property manager to discuss.
11. I am a tenant and have lost my job and can’t pay my rent so I think I might move in with some friends. What do I need to do?
Our answer for this depends on your lease. Are you in a fixed term lease, or are you month by month?
For example if you are still within your lease term, then it would be considered breaking your lease, (ending it prematurely) and a tenant is responsible for a number of costs associated with this. The best thing to do is talk with your property manager and work out a plan to alleviate both yours and your landlords financial burden.
If you are month by month, you can provide your landlords with 28 days’ notice and vacate the property, but again we would suggest talking with your agent first, your landlord may be in the position to offer a rental payment plan during this time and you may get to stay in your home.
12. I am a tenant and have lost my job and can’t pay my rent, but I have nowhere else to live. What should I do?
We hear you; this is a very stressful situation and we want to work with you.
Please call your property manager so we can discuss your specific circumstance.
We would like to get an idea on what will assist you. We will then request some details from you such as a letter from your employer confirming your change in income or employment.
This so we can understand what the change in your income and situation looks like.
We will also ask you to let us know what arrangement would enable you to get through this.
We need to know what figure you are still able to continue paying – not the minimum amount you’d like to pay – but a realistic amount that is affordable for you but ideally also doesn’t place the owner under any additional financial stress themselves.
We encourage everyone to keep in mind that the owners may be in a similar circumstance where their employment may have been affected.
Ultimately, we want you to stay living in the property.
We are all in this together and so again… please call your property manager to discuss this in detail.
13. Why do you need my bank statement and payslips for a request of a payment plan / reduction?
Great question. Everyone impacted by Covid-19 need to substantiate the extent of their hardship to qualify for assistance from the government or bank and applying for an adjusting your rental agreement is no different. We need to see your financial position now, just as we did when you provided payslips, bank statements etc to show your financial situation when you applied to lease the property at the start of your lease.