How does COVID-19 affect access to a tenanted property? - Landlords bulletin issue 61
Please note this content was correct at the time of issue. As COVID-19 restrictions may change, please visit WA.gov.au to find the latest COVID-19 information.
28 June 2022
How does COVID-19 affect access to a tenanted property?
This bulletin explains how the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic emergency measures impact property access.
The required right of entry provisions continue to apply.
Open homes and property viewings
A person holding home opens or property viewings (for sales or rentals) must meet the latest public health requirements. These requirements include encouraging people attending the property for a home open or viewing, including children, to wear a mask where physical distancing is not possible.
Contact registration is no longer mandatory for people accessing the property.
Where a property is tenanted, the person conducting the home open should ensure anyone viewing the property does not unnecessarily touch any items, including fixtures or fittings. If children are in attendance, parents should be reminded of their obligation to ensure their children do not touch anything in the house. It is also reasonable to require anyone viewing the property to sanitise their hands prior to entering.
A viewing should not take place where an occupant is in isolation because they:
- have tested positive for COVID-19;
- are isolating while they await the outcome of a COVID-19 test; or
- have been instructed to isolate by WA Health.
Where a property is currently leased, the agent or landlord should confirm the tenant or any other occupant is not in isolation before conducting a physical property inspection. Where the tenant is in self-isolation, a physical inspection cannot proceed until the tenant has completed isolation.
Where a tenant is practising social distancing due to being at increased risk from the effects of COVID-19, the agent or landlord should discuss hygiene expectations with the tenant prior to attending the property.
An agent or landlord can organise alternative means of conducting inspections, such as a virtual inspection, if the tenant agrees to video the property. Many agents and landlords are using apps to conduct virtual inspections. Discuss alternatives with the tenant and ensure that any agreed method does not impose additional cost on the tenant.
Impact of isolation on the sale of a property and the end of a tenancy
Where a tenant is in isolation at the time of their vacate date, they cannot be required to leave the property and breach health requirements.
When selling a property, you should consider including a clause in the sale contract about what should happen if a tenant or a tenant’s household is required to isolate and this causes a delay in settlement.
When a tenant is impacted by COVID-19, it may be reasonable to request evidence of any requirement to isolate. Where a person tests positive for COVID-19, after they report the result, they should receive an SMS from WA Health even if they have used a rapid antigen test.
COVID-19 cleaning requirements
WA Health has advised Consumer Protection that deep cleaning is not a requirement for vacating a premises and not based on any legitimate health advice.
Real estate agents, people selling or buying a home, tenants and landlords should refer to COVID-19 cleaning instructions on the Commonwealth Department of Health’s website.
People buying or leasing a home should be aware that they may not know if the property has been exposed to COVID-19, so they should also perform a clean of the property at the commencement of their occupancy in line with WA Health advice.