Date: 09 April 2020
Updated: 20 April 2020
Here at Frank Gordon, community is at the core of what we do. We understand this is a stressful time for many and we are here to support you during this time. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
We understand that things are moving quickly, so to help our tenants keep up to date with the latest Coronavirus information we have put together a series of frequently asked questions for your reference.
Is Frank Gordon still open and how do I speak to you?
Frank Gordon remains open with social distancing in the office in place. You can still call us on 9645 2411 as usual. Otherwise you can still contact your Property Manager at any time by calling their mobile number, or via email.
Are routine inspections still occurring?
We have suspended all face-to-face routine inspections in line with the current social distancing practices. These will be re-booked once the restrictions are lifted. We may however request a virtual inspection of the property in the interim. In this case your Property Manager will arrange a time to video call you (Via Face Time, Zoom etc) and will direct you through areas of the property they would like to inspect.
What about maintenance?
There are currently no restrictions on tradespeople entering property provided they follow the social distancing guidelines. This means if there is any maintenance required, and particularly urgent repairs, we can still arrange for the relevant tradespeople to attend the property. We envision longer than average delays in getting tradespeople to the property so please do get in touch with your property manager as early as possible with a request.
What happens if I can’t pay rent?
We understand this is a challenging time for many people. If you are experiencing financial hardship as a result of coronavirus please contact your property manager as soon as possible. They will be able to walk you through the steps required to apply for a reduced or deferred rental payments.
If these packages are not sufficient you will be asked to complete an official COVID19 Residential Tenant Payment Assistance Request Form provided from the REIV. This form provides your property manager with specific details about their situation as well as your request to either reduce or defer rental payments.
Once this form has been completed your Landlord will be consulted and we will attempt to come to an interim payment plan which works for all parties. Every situation is unique and many of our Landlords do not have an alternative income stream to their rental property. Your Landlord will need to consider their own personal situation, often consulting other parties such as their mortgage lender before they are able to make their decision, so we ask for patience during this process.
Can I be evicted if I don’t pay rent?
Both tenants and landlords need to continue to abide by the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (The Act). However the residing message for landlords and tenants is that we need to work together, support each other and negotiate a personal arrangement to get us through the next six months.
The Federal Government has announced that there should be a suspension on rental evictions for people experiencing financial distress as a result of Coronavirus. This is yet to be ratified by the State Government but is expected soon.
This should provide some security and alleviate some stress for those who have been adversely affected by Coronavirus.
What happens with inspections if I’m in the process of moving out?
We have adapted our practices in line with social distancing and are holding private inspections for any properties for lease. Anyone inspecting the property must comply with social distancing rules and we have hygiene protocols in place to mitigate the risk of the virus being spread including (a) hand sanitiser prior to entering the property and (b) strict entry restrictions signed on the property and (c) we request that prospective tenants avoid touching shared surfaces including benches and handles.
Are sales still going on?
Yes, property sales are still transacting. Should this impact your property, more discreet methods will be in place including virtual inspections, video inspections and private inspections (as per the above).
What is the Rental Relief Package and do I qualify?
The rental relief package provides rent relief payments of up to $2,000 to Victorians experiencing rental hardship due to Coronavirus. The grant is paid directly to the tenant’s agent, lessor or landlord to contribute to the tenant’s rental payments.
To be eligible,
- Household income must be less $100,000 per annum.
- The tenant is paying more than 30% of their income in rent and has limited savings (less than $5,000) or access to other support. Please note this 30% test applies before any rental reduction has been made.
- The tenant must have, or will soon have, a bond registered with the Victorian RTBA. All Frank Gordon properties have a registered bond with the RTBA.
Most importantly, the tenant must have spoken to their agent and come to a revised rental agreement (either through mutual agreement or mediation) which has been registered with Consumer Affairs Victoria.
If you are experiencing financial hardship as a result of Coronavirus, please contact your property manager on 9645 2411 as soon as possible.
I’m not from Australia, can I still access the rent relief package?
There are no citizenship or permanent residency requirements for applicants. Applicants that may be eligible include casual workers on holiday and working visas, skilled visas, seasonal workers, New Zealand citizens and all refugee and temporary protection visa holders.
Does this count for a share house or multi-lease property?
Yes. If your tenant is one of the lease holders in your home and meets the eligibility criteria they may qualify for a grant that represents their portion of the rent.
We endeavour to provide regular updates on COVID-19 and how this is affecting property. This means we need to operate at speed, often speaking to you while waiting for further announcements and clarifications from the government and other third parties. Information in this article is correct as of the date of publication and is subject to change
The information and any advice contained in this article is of a general nature only and does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. Therefore, before making any decision, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice with regard to those matters.