COVID-19 Updates for Building Managers and Contractors
COVID-19 Updates for Building Managers and Contractors
Wednesday 13 May Update
Following encouraging signs of flattening the curve for COVID-19, some restrictions will ease in Queensland from Saturday the 2nd of May. The Queensland Government are allowing some recreational activities and extending the distance you can travel from home, however, social distancing rules still apply.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced on the 8th of May the “COVID safe” plan for the easing of restrictions, with a goal of happening by July 2020. This outlines the steps that businesses and activities can reopen.
The Victorian Government has announced it will gradually ease restrictions.
This announcement builds on new investments to further boost the ability to test, trace and monitor the virus in the community, with rapid response outbreak squads, expanded testing and support for additional research.
These measures – combined with the commitment shown by Victorians – has given health authorities vital insight and information, allowing some restrictions to be safely and cautiously lifted.
Under the changes, it means that there will be five reasons to leave your home:
shopping for food and supplies that you need
care and caregiving
exercise and outdoor recreation
work and education – if you can’t do it from home
visiting friends and family – if you really need to
These new arrangements came into effect at 11.59pm on Tuesday the 12th of May.
Aligning with the outcomes of National Cabinet, that means:
outdoor gatherings being permitted with up to 10 people
indoor gatherings at home are permitted, with 5 visitors able to visit the normal residents of a household
the ability to leave the house for exercise will be expanded to include outdoor recreational activities. These activities can occur in groups of up to 10 people outside, but the requirements on physical distancing remain
for weddings 10 guests are allowed, plus the couple and the celebrant
for funerals, 20 people will be allowed at an indoor ceremony and 30 people at an outside ceremony. This is in addition to the minimum people required to conduct the funeral
religious gatherings and ceremonies will be permitted with up to 10 people, plus those required to perform the ceremony
Back to school:
State school students in prep and grades one, two, 11 and 12 will resume classroom learning on May the 26th.
Grades three to 10 will return to school campuses on June the 9th.
All specialist schools will fully reopen on May the 26th.
This will allow more businesses to open and more people to stay in work.
As NSW takes the next step, we need to keep up our high rates of testing, and continue to practise physical distancing and good handwashing hygiene. If you have even the mildest symptoms, you should stay at home.
From Friday the 15th of May, the following will be allowed in NSW:
outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people
cafes and restaurants can seat 10 patrons at any one time
up to 5 visitors to a household at any one time
weddings up to 10 guests
indoor funerals up to 20 mourners, outdoor funerals up to 30
religious gatherings/places of worship up to 10 worshippers
use of outdoor equipment with caution
outdoor pools open with restrictions.
The NSW Government will closely monitor COVID-19 rates, especially community transmissions, and use this to guide the further easing of restrictions.
SSKB is working closely with the Committees and Building Managers to effectively manage the reopening of shared facilities. We understand that people will be keen to start using pools and gyms again, but please follow all number limits and continue to practice social distancing. We want to thank everyone who has worked together as a community to follow all public health directives and will continue to do so.
Important Updates this week
Residential and Commercial Tenancies – State by State
Household and Small Business Energy Rebates
Land Tax relief for some in NSW
Further details are still being workshopped in each state due to the various complexities involved in relation to the moratorium on evictions over the next six months. We refer you to the below links that provide information straight from QCAT and the Government regarding tenancies.
In the meantime, the Government’s advice is for landlords and tenants to engage in conversations in an effort to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.
As in Qld, Victoria is yet to finalise the details regarding the moratorium on evictions over the next six months for residential tenancies. Currently, tenants and landlords must comply with the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (the Act). We also encourage landlords and agents to be compassionate with tenants affected by the pandemic. We refer you to the below link which details more information and a number of FAQs.
At the moment, the Government’s advice is for landlords and tenants to engage in ‘good faith’ discussions in an effort to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.
NSW has introduced new measures in response to the national announcement regarding evictions. The new measures include:
An interim 60 day stop on landlords issuing termination notices or applying for NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal eviction orders due to rental arrears, where tenants are financially disadvantaged by COVID-19.
A landlord is required to negotiate a rent reduction with the tenant in good faith in the first instance, and can only seek to give a termination notice or apply for an eviction after the interim 60-day stop if it is fair and reasonable in the circumstances of the specific case.
Fair Trading will be able to assist landlords and tenants try to reach an agreement if needed.
Along with these restrictions on evictions for rental arrears, the Government will be extending the notice periods for certain other lease termination reasons to 90 days.
At any time during the 60 day stop and the longer six month restrictions, landlords can still apply to the Tribunal at any time to take possession of a property if they are suffering undue hardship
To meet the requirements for 60 day stop on evictions and the longer six month restrictions, a household needs to demonstrate they are impacted by COVID-19.
Renters are still required to pay rent and landlords are still required to provide appropriate accommodation. There is no current clause to say you can refuse to pay rent because of a global pandemic. The state and territory governments are currently working on a solution for renters and landlords… more information to come as it is announced.
Owners should chat with their banks if they need to as there are various options and assistance being offered on a case-by-case basis.
If your tenant is experiencing financial hardship, we highly recommend talking with them to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. What works for some, won’t work for others. For example, delaying rent entirely may not be a good solution as when the pandemic ceases, chances are the tenant won’t have double the income to be able to afford to pay double the rent. Relief funds may be a better option for some.
It may be in a landlord’s best interests to establish interim arrangements with their tenants which are sustainable and mutually beneficial. However, this is again on a case by case scenario and would differ between residential / retail / commercial scenarios.
Commercial and residential tenancies
As part of its work on helping businesses hibernate, National Cabinet agreed that short-term intervention is needed for commercial tenancies. Work on this has begun, but there is more to do, including for residential tenancies.
National Cabinet agreed to a moratorium on evictions over the next six months for commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of coronavirus.
Commercial tenants, landlords and financial institutions are encouraged to sit down together to find a way through to ensure that businesses can survive and be there on the other side. As part of this, National Cabinet agreed to a common set of principles, endorsed by Treasurers, to underpin and govern intervention to aid commercial tenancies as follows:
a short term, temporary moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent to be applied across commercial tenancies impacted by severe rental distress due to coronavirus;
tenants and landlords are encouraged to agree on rent relief or temporary amendments to the lease;
the reduction or waiver of rental payment for a defined period for impacted tenants;
the ability for tenants to terminate leases and/or seek mediation or conciliation on the grounds of financial distress;
commercial property owners should ensure that any benefits received in respect of their properties should also benefit their tenants in proportion to the economic impact caused by coronavirus;
landlords and tenants not significantly affected by coronavirus are expected to honour their lease and rental agreements; and
cost-sharing or deferral of losses between landlords and tenants, with Commonwealth, state and territory governments, local government and financial institutions to consider mechanisms to provide assistance.
Latest Updates – 24th March
The Prime Minster made a further public announcement last night (24th March) in which he addressed the concerning rise of community transmission of the Covid-19 virus and to stress that rigorous adherence to the previously announced social distancing requirements is the only way to ‘flatten the curve’ of infections. He also outlined that if this was not successful there may be further restrictions in the coming days and weeks.
The Prime Minister also announced further nationwide restrictions on top of those announced on 22nd March. Some of these restrictions will have a direct impact on you, your families and your community. We are here to assist you so please do not hesitate to reach out to SSKB if you are feeling overwhelmed or confused. This is a fluid situation and if more changes and restrictions are made in the coming days and weeks, we will communicate these to you in a timely fashion.
What that means for Strata
We have read the Prime Minister’s Statement and the advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) who advise our National Cabinet. Our recommendations are:
All Bodies Corporate or Owners Corporation should close any shared facilities that come under the new Government restrictions. This includes gyms, indoor and outdoor pools and sporting activities. This will apply to apartment blocks and we encourage all owners follow these new restrictions. Your Building Manager or Community Manager will be able to assist in locking these facilities, sending correspondence to owners or putting signs up if required.
If your community has any shared facilities not included in the restrictions, we highly encourage all owners to follow social distancing guidelines and sanitize high touch areas such as elevator lifts regularly. As more and more restrictions come in place, we will start to see more people in your communities working from home or in self-isolation so there may be an increased number of people using lifts etc. We encourage Committees to work closely with their Community Manager on a case by case basis.
If you are currently in the process of selling your lot, Real estate auctions and open house inspections are included in the newest restrictions. Your Real Estate agent should be in contact with you regarding the same. Private inspections are currently allowed.
We acknowledge that all buildings are different and have different facilities and spaces. Our general advice is to follow ALL government restrictions (gyms, pools, etc.), increase cleaning of high-touch areas (reception, foyers, lifts), follow social distancing recommendations and keep in regular contact with the community. Other considerations should be on a case by case basis so please don’t hesitate to reach out for advice. SSKB can utilise industry contacts if further advice is required.
It is a legislative requirement in Queensland that Bodies Corporate must act responsibly. Similar legislation applies in Victoria and New South Wales. It is recommended that all Committees work on the basis that there may be someone infected within the building and take any necessary precautions. Individuals are urged to take a large amount of responsibility in following government guidelines.
Install hand sanitizer at all lifts, reception areas etc. We understand supply is hard to get at the moment and are working on finding solutions/suppliers for our clients;
If possible, use knuckles or elbows to press elevator buttons and to open doors;
Install signs in the lifts, lobbies etc. (there are a number of free government downloads that can be printed and put up);
Ensure all roll information is up to date. Give notices in the mailbox, under the door, via email etc. that outlines what precautions are being put in place by the Committee (hand sanitiser, extra cleaning, signs in the lifts).
We encourage all owners to minimize use of any common areas or shared facilities to protect themselves and protect the community from the spread of the virus.
The common property must still be maintained and in good condition.