Did you know that there are over 2,500,000 Landlords in Australia and out of them around 70% are ordinary Australians that own a single investment property? Australians that are working hard to create a little more financial security for themselves and their families, whilst helping tenants with short-term or long-term accommodation.
These 70% of Landlords right now are experiencing the same upheaval in their lives as the tenants are experiencing, truly that all Australian’s are experiencing. Job loss, reduced working hours, home schooling issues, putting food on the table and caring for their families during this crisis.
We are seeing all too often through Social Media comments that Landlords should freeze rental payments to tenants during this time and the response from Landlords is they are expecting tenants to pay in full. A power struggle between Landlords and Tenants is what is playing out.
Dollars with Sense and its panel of experts understand that a vast majority of their members fall into the category of being the 70% and right now are experiencing added stress and anxiety to what is already an uncertain time. Let’s help each other with some guidance on what is available to YOU..
The common thread of guidance to Landlords that are being impacted financially through this financial crisis is not to sacrifice rental payments during this time. Suggestions are to work with tenants on affordability now and arrangement made for remaining amounts. There are a few reasons why the sentiment is just that and we shall review these for you.
The various stage stimulus packages implemented by the Federal Government were to assist Australian’s including tenants to meet their short-term financial commitments which included rent, in the event they have lost their job or have been impacted by a decline in income with reduced hours. These stimuli included:
- An added $550 per fortnight towards those that receive certain benefits such as Newstart, Jobseeker (including casual and sole trader), single parent payments per fortnight
- A supplement to those on pensions, career payments and family allowance of $750 end of March and another one being presented in July
- JobKeeper- to employers to retain employees of $1,500 per fortnight
Along with the Federal Government stimulus packages some state based Governments have implemented additional rental assistance. Queensland Government if offering up to $500 per week as a relief benefit to those tenants that qualify. We are also hearing about possible further stimulus packages such as Tenancy Relief Packages.
These extra payments assist in covering rent over the crisis period for most tenants.
We acknowledge the following are guide only and Landlords should converse with their insurance provider regarding these matters in more detail, as each insurance provider may vary these conditions.
- If a landlord offers or agrees to a rent reduction or no rent at all, then the Landlord Protection Insurance policy may not cover the difference, that is the gap between the current rent and the new agreed rent
- If a landlord makes a ‘loss of rent’ claim then the insurer may consider the weekly rent to be the new reduced rent and not the current/ original rent – this would reduce your claim amount considerably compared to under your original agreement.
- If a tenant does indeed default on rent payments, in order for a ‘loss of rent’ claim to be considered, the Property Manager needs to follow the Residential Tenancy Act and treat the rent arrears as they normally would. Given the new policy recently implemented regarding the ban on evictions for at least 6 months, it effectively means any ‘loss of rent’ claim will not be processed until after the eviction ban has ended and the tenant has been evicted. Along with this any ‘loss of rent’ claim would increase in wait time acknowledging there is likely to be an increase in tribunal requests after this time.
- Loss of rent often has limit ranges, most policies range from 16 to 20 weeks cover – this may mean with current crisis and timeframes you may not be able to claim for full time period, acknowledging crisis time period is out of normal policy range.
LOAN REPAYMENT DEFERRAL:
Deferring repayments through current lending is on the mind of all Australian Mortgage holders right now.
As a Landlord if you are considering negotiating deferral of repayments with your lender, the lender is NOT offering you interest free period, the repayments are being deferred and will be capitalised to your current loan.
A reduction or freeze on your rental income must be taken fully into consideration with deferred mortgage repayments, we note that this as it will affect YOU the Landlord in further financial cost. You do not recuperate the reduced or freeze rental payment amounts.
Like with all of these new policies that Federal and State Governments are implementing due the unprecedented times we are in, there is a percentage of uncertainty involved and policies are regularly changing with new information being presented.
If a tenant approaches you through your property manager unless you are private renting, asking for assistance with rental repayments, remind yourself of your options:
- If YOU, yourself are in financially difficulty you do have the right to refuse the request by the tenant. If you are refusing their request, ensure when you are replying that you make your reason clear and concise
- As stated above, you can ask your tenant what they can afford to pay now and defer similar to how the lenders defer payments the remaining rental amount to be collected by the tenant at a later date, It would be considered a ‘PAYMENT PLAN ARRANGEMENT’. Such an arrangement will be agreed to in writing with all parties involved and with the support of your property manager.
Overall, keep yourself abreast of changes and continue to inform yourself, stay close to your property manager and if you are insured, your insurance company. The best way to solve your uncertainty is education and communication.
If you would like to know more about options available to YOU as Landlord or to review your current financial portfolio including loans, insurances, superannuation and legal standing simply book your free no obligation consultation by clicking on the link.