COVID-19 coronavirus and property access - Tenants bulletin issue 18
This bulletin has been SUPERSEDED by Tenants' bulletin issue 19.
Content has been updated due to changes to the requirements for viewings and open homes announced by the Premier on Sunday 26 April 2020.
6 April 2020
COVID-19 coronavirus and property access
On 24 March 2020, the Hon. Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister, announced the National Cabinet had agreed to enhance measures to manage the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic on the real estate industry. The Prime Minister stated that “real estate auctions and open house inspections … cannot continue.” The new measures took effect at 11.59pm on 25 March 2020.
This means the conventional “home open” for a property that is offered for sale or for rent, can no longer take place. An exemption has been granted which allows viewings to occur by private appointment only and consistent with the required social distancing measures. This includes limiting the number of people attending a private viewing of a vacant property to one person and the agent. Viewings of properties which are not vacant can only take place if the tenant or property owner voluntarily agrees to absent themselves from the property.
In the interest of containing the spread of the COVID-19, best practice hygiene measures should be observed when conducting viewings. Agents should take reasonable steps to protect themselves, the people attending the viewing and the home occupier. Protection measures could include but should not be limited to providing gloves and hand sanitiser for anyone who attends viewings. It is also important for the home occupier that the agent and person viewing the property do not touch things with bare hands.
The real estate industry is proving to be quite inventive by devising new ways to do business, whilst still complying with regulatory requirements.
Social distancing and hygiene requirements are impacting the conduct of routine property inspections for currently leased properties. Real estate agents should confirm the current tenant is not in self-isolation or diagnosed with COVID-19 before conducting an inspection. If the tenant is self-isolating or ill, the inspection cannot proceed and it is recommended that agents take instruction from the lessor about a deferral of the inspection.
It may be possible for the agent to organise alternative means of conducting inspections. 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.
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.