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COVID-19 UPDATES

COVID-19 UPDATES

COVID-19 UPDATES

WE ARE OPEN, BUT OUR OFFICE IS CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC.

We are still available over phone, email and using the Key Drop box. See below for more details.

As the situation around COVID-19 continues to evolve, Henzells Agency is here to help you navigate through the changing conditions. Here you’ll find the latest news and resources to stay well-informed and supported during this time.

JOIN THE VIRTUAL REVOLUTION!

Our team has responded to the scenario quickly to ensure our customers can continue to inspect properties and find their new home. We're offering private inspections  and have added virtual open homes for an in-depth look into many of our listings.

If you're thinking of selling or leasing your property, adding video, an interactive floor plan and social media to your marketing spend will help get your listing seen. While these advertising methods are nothing new, now is the perfect time to reach an audience that is spending more time online. These visual assets are also shareable and can be published on several platforms for maximum exposure.  

We'll help you choose the right strategy to suit your goals and your budget. We're adapting to the different marketing environment introduced by COVID-19, but we haven't slowed down in our approach to get you the best result. 
 

IMPORTANT CONTACTS

Australian Government - website
   - Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package
   - Public Health Measures
   - Mental Heath & Telehealth Support
Queensland Health -
website -  Phone 13 74 68
  -  Health Alerts

Centrelink - website
   - JobKeeper Payment 
REIQ - website - Phone 1300 697 347
RTA - website - Phone 1300 366 311
   - COVID-19 Rental Grant
DVA - website - Phone 1800 555 254
ATO - website - Phone 13 28 65 (Individual) & 13 72 26 (Business)


LATEST GOVERNMENT & INDUSTRY UPDATES
 

UPDATE 06/05/2020 - COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS FOR PROPERTY INSPECTIONS

A maximum of 6 people including the real estate agent is permitted inside the building at any one time, with no more than one person per 4 square metres. Social distancing should always be observed.
 

UPDATE 27/04/2020 - COVID RESTRICTIONS EASE (QLD GOVERNMENT)

Following encouraging signs Queensland is flattening the COVID-19 curve, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced stay at home restrictions will ease.

From 11.59pm Friday, May 1, Queenslanders will be able to leave their homes for recreation and the distance they can travel has been extended.

For example, Queenslanders will be able to enjoy some relief from stay-at-home rules and:

  • Go for a drive;
  • Ride a motorbike, jetski or boat for pleasure;
  • Have a picnic; 
  • Visit a national park; and
  • Shop for non-essential items
  • But there are three conditions that apply linked to the above:
  1. Social distancing and hygiene must be maintained
  2. You have to stay within 50km of home and
  3. Outings are limited to members of the same household or an individual and one friend

All other rules including gatherings and limits on visitors remain in place during this time.

The Premier said numbers of new infections would be watched closely and the measures reviewed after two weeks.

“The first sign of a spike we will not hesitate to clamp back,” the Premier said.

“This is a test-run to see what effect easing restrictions has on the containment of COVID-19.

“I encourage all Queenslanders to back this first step so that we can keep the virus away and help everyone start to get their lives back.”

Health Minister Steven Miles said Queensland had earned a reward for its hard work.

“We have done the right thing,” the Minister said.

“We have to keep doing it.”

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young supported the new measures.

“Before you couldn’t leave home unless it was for essential reasons like getting groceries or exercising or going to work and you had to stay in your suburb where possible,” Dr Young said.

“Now we are saying you can have more flexibility but remember we are still having to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

State Disaster Co-ordinator Steve Gollschewski said police will assist people to understand the new rules but will still enforce flagrant breaches.

“Police will be understanding but this isn’t an invitation for people to undo everyone’s hard work,” he said.

The Premier said she hoped easing restrictions would mean some older Queenslanders could finally leave their homes.

“They can go for a drive to Mt Coot-tha or a national park or a beach in their region but they still have to avoid crowds,” the Premier said.

“I know this isn’t returning life to normal again but we are still in the midst of a pandemic and we still have to be careful.”

 

UPDATE 21/04/2020 - NEW COVID-19 RENTAL PROTECTIONS - A MESSAGE FROM MINISTER DE BRENNI

"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
 

UPDATE 15/04/2020 - INITIAL TERM 2 SCHOOL ARRANGEMENTS FOR QUEENSLAND ANNOUNCED

Queensland school students will be learning at home for the first five weeks of Term 2, with schools only open for the children of essential workers.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said while this was another very difficult decision it was the right one for Queensland while continuing to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“What this means is that from the start of Term 2, all students who can learn from home are to stay at home,” the Premier said.

“This decision provides mums and dads with the clarity they need ahead of the new school term.

“It also gives certainty for our hard-working teachers who will be continuing to deliver lessons in a way they might never have imagined.”

Ms Palaszczuk said the move to the home-based learning model would start at the scheduled commencement of Term 2 on Monday 20 April and be in place until at least Friday 22 May.

“School staff, unless they are vulnerable due to medical conditions, will continue to teach from the classroom to ensure continuity of learning for students.

“And children of essential workers and vulnerable children can continue to attend school.

“These children will be supervised and participate in the learning activities that have been set by their regular classroom teachers.”

“We are committed to doing whatever it takes to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

“My message to every Queensland school community is very clear. Stay at home. Learn at home.”

Education Minister Grace Grace said schools and teachers will continue to be the primary point of contact for students and parents and will set the curriculum, teaching and learning programs.

“Although most students will be absent, staff will still be on site and we are continuing to work with suppliers to bulk purchase cleaning and hygiene supplies to support schools.

“The Chief Health Officer has also updated the testing criteria for COVID-19 to include those who have a fever or respiratory problems and work in schools, child care centres and boarding houses.”

Ms Grace said continuity of early learning is also key for kindy children.

“Our community kindergartens will also implement a home-based learning model, except for children of essential workers and our vulnerable children who will be able to attend their community kindy.

“Before and after school care, long day care or family day care will continue to operate.”

Minister Grace said the government was working schools and vendors to supply devices and internet connectivity for schools and students where required.

“Make no mistake, we are well-prepared and the on-line curriculum resources we have developed over many years have been shared across the country.

“Schools are being encouraged to loan devices like laptops or tablets to students who may not have access to them at home.

“And we have worked with Telstra to secure more than 5000 sim cards to ensure those students without internet connectivity can access online resources.”

The Department of Education learning@home website provides parents with a range of resources to support students to continue their learning. Visit www.qld.gov.au/learningathome

 

UPDATE 15/04/2020 - VIEW THE CODE OF CONDUCT FOR COMMERCIAL TENANCIES

The National Cabinet has agreed that states and territories will implement a mandatory Code of Conduct for commercial tenancies.
 

UPDATE 07/04/2020 - GOVERNMENT APPROVES OF RENT RELIEF MANDATORY CODE (REB)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed that the national cabinet has reached an agreement on a mandatory code for the provision of rent relief by commercial landlords to tenants.

In a press conference on Tuesday, 7 April, Mr Morrison said the mandatory code will be legislated and regulated as appropriate in each state and territory jurisdiction.

It follows his comments last Friday which alluded to the development of a code. 

He said the code will apply to tenancies where the tenant or landlord is eligible for the JobKeeper program and where they have a turnover of $50 million or less.

“The code is designed to support those small and medium-sized enterprises, be they a tenant or indeed a landlord,” Mr Morrison said.

“The code brings together a set of good faith leasing principles. Landlords must not terminate the lease or draw on a tenant’s security. Likewise, tenants must honour the lease.” 

Mr Morrison said landlords will be required to reduce rent proportionate to the trading reduction in the tenant’s business through a combination of waivers of rent and deferrals of rents over the course of the pandemic.

He said waivers of rent must account for at least 50 per cent of the reduction in the rental provided to the tenant during that period, while deferrals must be covered over the balance of the lease term and in a period no less than 12 months.

“If the lease term goes for three years, you can advertise the cost of the lease of the rental deferral over that three-year period, after the end of the pandemic period. But if the lease only has another six months to run, then the tenant would have a minimum of 12 months after the pandemic period in order to cover up on the deferrals of the rental payments,” Mr Morrison explained.

A Binding Mediation Process

Mr Morrison also said the rental relief arrangements negotiated by the tenant and landlord will be overseen through a binding mediation process that will be run by the states and the territories.

“The point here is simple: it’s the same request we made of landlords and tenants about 10 days or so ago when I stood up on this issue, and that is they sit down and they work it out. This must be shared,” he said.

Further, Mr Morrison said banks also must “come to the table” and provide support to landlords.

In particular, he wanted to send that message to international banks operating in Australia which he said that in many cases are providing that support, especially to many larger landlords. 

“We will expect those banks to be providing the same levels of support and co-operation as we are seeing from the Australian banks who are aware of these arrangements,” Mr Morrison said.

“What this does is preserve the lease. It preserves the relationship. It keeps the tenant in their property and it keeps a tenant on the lease, which is also good for the landlord, and it preserves the lease that is in place that underpins the value of those assets.

“This is seen as a proactive, constructive and co-operative mechanism for landlords and tenants to see this through together.”

 

UPDATE 06/04/2020 - COMMERCIAL LEASE UPDATE FROM THE PM (REB)

In a press conference following the most recent national cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has weighed in on the government’s expectations around a code for commercial leases.

The Prime Minister began by conceding he had hoped to be “in a position to finalise this today”.

Despite the concession, he expressed that the national cabinet is “very close to that” on the matter, which is actively being worked on.

He outlined that the plan is for an industry-led commercial lease code, which will incorporate retail leases, to become a mandatory code that can be incorporated into relevant state and territory legislation by each government.

At the present time, it has “not got to the point that we believe it needs to get to for sufficient security of tenants and landlords”.

“We would like, as a national cabinet, for this to be done by industry as quickly as possible,” he stated.

As it stands, Mr Morrison observed that the code “would have that protection of issues around evictions, and claims on penalties and acting on guarantees” from the perspective of the tenant where the tenant’s business has a turnover of less than $50 million and participating in the government’s JobKeeper program.

It would also protect landlords, who would not be able to have the lease terminated by a tenant that fits the above criteria.

He has also urged both landlords and tenants to come to the table to create a suitable rental agreement, noting “these are things that we don’t wish to be prescriptive about”.

“Both of you — the landlord and the tenant — can get through this,” he stated.
“What is important is that both parties act in good faith.”

Banks “will need to come to the party as well” for this to work, the Prime Minister continued.

He said at the very latest, the final code as approved by the national cabinet will be announced Tuesday morning.
 

UPDATE 02/04/2020 - QLD RENT ASSISTANCE PAYMENT (The Courier Mail)

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.

“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 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.”

 

UPDATE 02/04/2020 - CLOSURE OF COMMON AREAS (REIQ)

Since the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and subsequent communications from governments, both State and Federal, there has been plenty of concern, confusion and uncertainty. The REIQ has received many questions about the common areas in shared residential facilities such as pools and gyms in apartment blocks and townhouse complexes.

The Queensland Health directive on non-essential business, activity or undertaking currently in place for COVID-19, which can be found here, states that all such facilities (including pools, gyms, barbecue areas, sports grounds and more) are no longer permitted to operate. Failure to comply with the directive may result in penalties of up to 100 penalty units (1 unit = $133.45).

There are no current guidelines around how long these restrictions are required to remain in place, but as soon as the State and Federal governments consider it safe to reopen them, The REIQ will endeavour to inform the Queensland real estate sector.

For those concerns about maintaining the upkeep of such facilities, The REIQ recommends contacting the a relevant peak body such as the Swimming Pool & Spa Association Australia (SPASA) for advice. Alternatively, the UK-based Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group (PWTAG) have issued some advice on their website which may also be helpful. It can be found here.

For any further inquiries around the closure of pools, please contact the Water Unit branch of the Department of Health at waterquality@health.qld.gov.au. For all other inquiries, please contact The REIQ at 1300 MYREIQ (1300 697 347) or ask@reiq.com.au.

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.”

 

WE ARE OPEN, BUT OUR OFFICE IS CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC.

We are available over phone, email and using the Key Drop box

We’re always happy to discuss your needs and ensure we’re supporting you despite the circumstances:

•    We’re always happy to do business with you by phone or email 

•    Keys and paperwork can be dropped off in the Key Drop box beside our office on the corner of Minchinton Street (next to One Third French)

•    You can find detailed information about properties on our website at www.henzells.com.au

 

We will continue to assess the situation and adapt our response 

•    With safety in the forefront of our minds and actions, we will continue to respond to COVID-19 in line with Government guidance

•    At this time, our staff will be supporting clients as usual, but with extra caution including practicing social distancing

•    We continue to facilitate open homes and property appraisals, but with additional safety protocols such as limiting non-essential participants

We will keep you informed of any changes to the above approach and encourage you contact us if you have any concerns.

 

 

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