COVID-19 and property access – an update - Real estate industry bulletin 222
7 May 2020
COVID-19 and property access – an update
This bulletin supersedes real estate industry bulletin 220 issued on 6 April 2020.
On 26 April 2020 Premier Mark McGowan and Health Minister Roger Cook announced the easing of some of Western Australia’s stage 3 COVID-19 restrictions, effective Monday 27 April 2020. This bulletin explains how these changes impact on property access. The usual right of entry provisions continue to apply to tenanted premises.
Open Homes and Property Viewings
For the real estate industry, this means that home opens including display village inspections may be conducted with no more than 10 people on the premises at any time and ensuring at least 4 square metres of space for each person in a room to comply with current social distancing requirements. In the interest of containing the spread of COVID-19, the agent holding the home open is now responsible for providing alcohol-based hand sanitiser at each entry and exit point for anyone who attends a viewing and must encourage those in attendance to use it.
Where a property is tenanted the agent is responsible for ensuring that persons viewing the property do not touch any items, including fixtures or fittings, unnecessarily. If children are in attendance, parents should be reminded of their obligation to closely supervise them. Where the tenant chooses to remain at home during the home open, the agent will need to limit the number of people in attendance to ensure not more than 10 people are at the property at any time.
The changes to the directions under the Emergency Management Act require an agent to ensure a written register is kept of the place, date and time of the home open. The register must include the name, residential address, email address and contact telephone number of the agent and each person attending. This requirement is to facilitate the tracking of potential contacts should it later be determined that any person attending the inspection tested positive for the virus.
A viewing cannot take place where a tenant is in self-isolation.
An agent should confirm the tenant is not in self-isolation before conducting a property inspection. If the tenant is self-isolating, the inspection cannot proceed and it is recommended that the agent take instruction from the lessor about a deferral of the inspection.
Where a tenant is practising social distancing due to being at increased risk from the effects of COVID-19, the agent should not attend the property without first discussing the hygiene expectations with the tenant to ensure cooperation for the inspection.
It may be possible for the agent to organise alternative means of conducting the inspection. This could include a virtual inspection if a tenant agrees to video the property. Many agents are using different apps to conduct virtual inspections. Discuss the alternatives with the tenant and ensure that any agreed method does not impose additional cost on the tenant.
Physical property auctions remain prohibited.
Up to date information about the COVID-19 pandemic in Western Australia is available from the Department of Premier and Cabinet's Coronavirus: COVID-19 latest updates page.
Bookmark the COVID-19 coronavirus Consumer Protection FAQ to keep up to date with the latest COVID-19 tenancy related information.
Your house, My home: Rethinking renting in WA
The deadline for submissions to the Residential Tenancies Act Consultation has now been extended to 30 June 2020. This extension aims to ensure all stakeholders have sufficient opportunity to provide a submission, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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