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Looking after tenants and landlords in tough times

25 March 2020 Grace Ormsby
Emily Sim

With rental assistance not yet on the cards despite two stimulus packages, we’re being reminded that options do already exist to ease issues for landlords and tenants alike.

Ray White Group CEO of property management Emily Sim has given some insight into how renters and owners can better protect themselves during uncertain times.

Rental payments

The importance of having landlord insurance for its ability to protect against the loss of rent has been stressed by Ms Sim.

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And despite the current uncertainty in the world, “it’s not too late”.

She said policies are still available, and are “an absolute must” for rental property owners.

For tenants, the CEO has recommended looking into Commonwealth welfare payments to help get by in the event of lost income.

“If you’re a tenant and you lose your job, applying for Newstart will also open up opportunities for rent assistance, and depending on your family situation, you may also be eligible for the Family Tax Benefit A or B,” she highlighted.

The federal government’s announcement that individuals will also have the opportunity to access up to $10,000 of their super this financial year and next is another option she touted.

“These are all things that tenants and landlords can do to help themselves with what we expect to be challeng[ing] rent conditions.”

Vacant properties

For landlords struggling with vacant property, Ms Sim has flagged the importance of working with property management to quickly and effectively fill vacant livings.

“At the moment, we’re unsure what lockdown means for property management in terms of essential services, and if it falls into non-essential services, we can expect leasing of vacant properties will stop,” she noted.

Ms Sim is urging landlords to “do everything necessary to get their property leased, including reducing rent, because if there is a future lockdown, they will lose the ability to lease these vacant properties”.

“For example, taking a lesser rent and shorter lease now might help them avoid having to make mortgage repayments over the lockdown period,” she noted.

The importance of communication

Most important of all, the CEO said tenants should keep an open channel of communication with the property manager overseeing their rental during challenging times.

Ms Sim recommended forgoing emails and going straight to the property manager to speak face to face or on the phone.

“If tenants have lost their jobs, they should speak to their property manager, but don’t send emails — we’re looking for open lines of communications if tenants are concerned,” she said.

“Have an open dialogue about what your situation is because the property manager will want that information to be able to present accurately and honestly to the landlord so they can make informed decisions.”

The CEO commented that “where there’s more contact, everyone feels more comfortable”.

Looking after tenants and landlords in tough times
Emily Sim reb
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