Will current COVID-19 requirements affect your business? - Real estate industry bulletin 253
13 April 2022
Will current COVID-19 requirements affect your business?
This bulletin explains how the most recent coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic emergency measures impact on the real estate industry when selling a property or managing a tenancy from Thursday, 31 March 2022.
Open Homes, Property Viewings and Property Auctions
An agent holding a home open or a property viewing must ensure that they meet the latest public health requirements including limiting the number of people in attendance at the property at any time. People attending the property for a home open or viewing, including children aged eight and over, must wear a mask.
You have the right to deny entry to any person who refuses to wear a mask.
Contact registration is no longer mandatory for people accessing the property.
Where a property is occupied, the agent should ensure that anyone viewing the property does not touch any items, including fixtures or fittings, unnecessarily. If children are in attendance, parents should be reminded of their obligation to ensure their children do not touch anything in the house. It would be 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 a close contact of a person who 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.
When conducting a property auction the agent will need to meet the latest COVID-19 requirements for gatherings.
An agent should confirm the tenant or any other occupant is not in isolation before conducting a physical property inspection. It is recommended that the agent take instructions from the lessor where an inspection is deferred.
Where a tenant is practising social distancing due to being at increased risk from the effects of COVID-19, the agent should discuss the hygiene expectations with the tenant, prior to attending the property.
Where possible, an agent should organise alternative means of conducting inspections. This could include a virtual inspection if the tenant agrees to video the property. Many agents are using apps to conduct virtual inspections. Discuss alternatives with the tenant and ensure that any agreed method does not impose additional cost.
Impact of isolation on the sale of a property and the end of a tenancy
Where a tenant or a seller is in isolation at the time of their vacate date they cannot be required to leave the property in breach of health requirements.
When selling a property, the agent should consider including a clause in the sale contract to provide for what is to happen if there needs to be a delay to settlement if a seller or the seller’s household is required to be in isolation.
When a tenant or seller are impacted by COVID-19 it may be reasonable to request evidence of any requirement to isolate. This may not be possible where a person is isolating because they are a close contact. Where a person tests positive for COVID-19 they should receive an SMS from WA Health even if they have used a rapid antigen test.
COVID-19 cleaning requirements
Where a tenant in a property tests positive for COVID-19 and is required to vacate following the end of the isolation period, they should perform a routine vacate clean in line with WA Health advice at the end of their tenancy.
People buying or leasing a home should be aware that they may not know if the property has been exposed to COVID-19 or not, so they should also perform a clean of the property at the commencement of their occupancy in line with WA Health advice.
Real estate agents, people selling or buying a home, tenants and landlords should refer to COVID-19 cleaning instructions on the WA Health website.
Importantly, 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.
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