COVID-19 Tenant Questions Answered

With the majority of the property management related announcements out in the open we thought we’d take a moment to put together some FAQ’s to answer the most common questions that are popping up. If we missed something, please ask – you may help answer someone else’s question as well!

Will you be conducting routine inspections during the level 4 restrictions? 

No routine inspections will be taking place, the guidelines imposed by the government are clear regarding this as it is essential the property managers and tenants self-isolate to minimise cross-contamination.  We are working on a solution to complete remote video inspections – watch this space!

What happens if we fall into financial hardship and struggle to pay our rent? 

We realise this is a likely reality for some of our tenants and so we have adjusted our usual arrears process to ensure we speak to each of you and work to find a solution. The government has set up financial support specifically for this reason. Our property managers are well informed of this process and can help guide those of you who need it to the information online and offer support to ensure that your weekly rent continues.

Does a rental freeze mean we won’t have to pay rent? 

No, you are required to pay your weekly rent as per usual. If you do come into financial hardships the government has offered financial support for beneficiaries, wage earners and those who are self-employed and you will be directed as such by your property manager if needed.

Will we be offered a reduced rent for this period?

We will work with each tenant and owners on a case by case basis to determine what is fair and reasonable for both of you. Some owners are in a position to offer some rent relief, others are already stretched and may not be able to offer this. Our goal is to keep happy tenants in their homes and owners maintaining income to pay their debts. It’s a delicate balance and we are working hard to achieve it for each of you.

Will repairs & maintenance be completed during the level 4 restrictions?  

If the repair is urgent, then yes it will still be attended to. We are still open during normal business hours and will address anything urgent that is brought to our attention using our trusted team of tradesmen that we have selected to use during the lockdown period. However, if it is not urgent then it is deemed to be non-essential and will be postponed until the level 4 restrictions are lifted. We are committed to doing our part to curb the transfer by limiting contact unless absolutely necessary.

What happens if there is an emergency after hours? 

If you have an urgent maintenance issue, then please call 09 849 2588 and press 1 to be directed to our on call property manager.

I was due to move out during April, what happens now? 

As per the new legislation the existing tenant can retract their notice to vacate and you can remain in the property. If a new tenant was signed up to move in after you were due to leave they would now need to find alternative accommodation. In this circumstance the existing tenant gets priority! The legislation has one significant issue (for tenants) if you stay on at your current home and have a new agreement starting for a new home, than you will end up paying double rent. In most city centres rent is the largest cost, so this will really hurt some people.

We’ve made a huge effot to move our tenants start and end dates to either side of the lockdown and we’ll continue to work with everyone on a one on one basis to help them, their specific situation and needs.

Can I move out of the property during the level 4 restrictions? 

No, tenants cannot move during this time. This has been made clear during press conferences and in the media. However, there has been some confusion on this topic! Some police stations (when phoned) are saying tenants are allowed to move but in other cases police are stopping people trying to move, warning them this is not an essential service and therefore not allowed during lockdown.

We are taking a common sense approach with this – if a tenant has a safe place to live they should stay there until the lockdown is lifted!

Can our rent be increased?

No, it can’t. The new legislation is clear here. Any rent increase that did not come into effect prior to the 26th of March is to be cancelled. Rent increases cannot happen for six months – if a rent increase was already issued, the property manager will advise you that it has been cancelled. No rent increases can be issued for 6 months as part of the rent freeze.

During this period, how do I keep up to speed with all the changes? 

Your property manager is updated daily of any changes. We’ll also keep you updated via email and update our blog when new information comes to light. Things do change quickly and so we urge you to ensure that you check the date of publish on anything you are reading.

Can we be issued a 90-day notice? 

Under the new legislation, owners cannot provide a no-clause termination and this is now an unlawful act.

You can still give us notice though if you wish to leave the property. Please speak with your Property Manager about your plans to move and we’ll assist the best we can to guide you through the process.

Can we be told to vacate if the owners wants to move back into the property? 

If you have been provided with 42 days’ notice after the commencement date (26th March, 2020) then this is postponed for a period of three months. If the notice was provided before the level 4 restrictions, then the notice still applies.

You can still give us notice though if you wish to leave the property. Please speak with your Property Manager about your plans to move and we’ll assist the best we can to guide you through the process.

What happens if my lease is due to end?

All fixed term leases (expiring in the next 3 months) revert to periodic at termination and therefore do not end unless you give notice to vacate. They have now extended the notice to at least 26th June 2020.

The government have made it clear that (if needed) they will extend this rule for an additional 3 months.

You can still give us notice though if you wish to leave the property. Please speak with your Property Manager about your plans to move and we’ll assist the best we can to guide you through the process.

Do we get any rental relief from the government?

An announcement regarding this was released on Saturday 28th March, stating that the government will not be offering a rental rebate to tenants who are unable to pay their rent.

The sense behind this is that they have offered support to beneficiaries, wage earners, sole traders and business owners – which in turn should help combat the issues with paying rent due to lose of earnings.