Thursday July 2nd, 9:45am
New Coronavirus lockdown begins with 300,000 people facing tighter restrictions
From today, residents of 10 postcodes in Melbourne need to follow stay-at-home orders as part of the Victorian Government’s effort to control recent outbreaks of the virus.
The orders mean residents can only leave their homes for essential travel.
Many of our tenants are affected by the lockdown and we have been keeping in touch with them to ensure they are being supported as much as possible.
With tighter restrictions in place, we have opted to revert to procedures we had in place when Victoria was at stage 3 restrictions. When working in areas under lock-down restrictions we will:
– Host open home inspections for vacant properties by appointment only
– Continue to conduct routine inspections remotely via Zoom
Suburbs under stay-at-home orders are:
3012: Brooklyn, Kingsville, Maidstone, Tottenham, West Footscray
3021: Albanvale, Kealba, Kings Park, St Albans
3032: Ascot Vale, Highpoint City, Maribyrnong, Travancore
3038: Keilor Downs, Keilor Lodge, Taylors Lakes, Watergardens
3042: Airport West, Keilor Park, Niddrie
3046: Glenroy, Hadfield, Oak Park
3047: Broadmeadows, Dallas, Jacana
3055: Brunswick South, Brunswick West, Moonee Vale, Moreland West
3064: Craigieburn, Donnybrook, Mickleham, Roxburgh Park and Kalkallo
Please reach out to your property manager with any concerns or queries you may have.
Wednesday 20th, 11.23am
New stay at home restrictions that are now in force until the 31st May 2020
Key points to note are listed below.
An estate agent in Victoria may organise:
1. An auction to take place for the sale of a residential property, during the restricted activity period, only if that auction is to be attended in person by no more than 10 members of the public (excluding the owners or residents of the property and any person(s) reasonably required to facilitate the auction),whether or not other members of the public also attend remotely; and
2. An inspection of a residential property during the restricted activity period for the purposes of a prospective sale or rental of the property, only if the estate agent does not permit more than 10 members of the public (excluding the owners or residents of the property and any person(s) reasonably required to facilitate the inspection) to enter the premises at any one time.
Note: these restrictions do not apply to dealings with property other than residential property.
3. An estate agent that arranges an auction or inspection in accordance with sub clauses (1) or (2) during the restricted activity period must:
a. request that each person entering the premises provide:
i. their first name, and
ii. a contact phone number,
and, if provided, must keep a record of those details, and the date and time at which each person entered the premises; and
b. not permit the number of people in a single undivided indoor space to exceed the density quotient.
Definition of density quotient
The density quotient of a single undivided indoor space is the number calculated by dividing the total area of the space (measured in square meters) by 4.
Example: if an indoor space is 8.5 metres long and 4.5 metres wide, its total area is 38.25 square metres. Its density quotient is 9.56, so no more than 9 people would be permitted in the indoor space at the same time.
• Download the COVIDSafe App and ask all attendees to do the same
• Ensure that names and contact details of all those wishing to enter the property are recorded
• Hand sanitiser to be provided to all persons before entering the property
• Post-inspection cleaning of the premises should be undertaken
• If a property is occupied and the tenant does not agree to the open for inspection the
agent/landlord must not hold the inspection. The agent may be able to negotiate with the tenant and hold an inspection by appointment only.
• Where feasible, use online auction technology to open the auction to a wider group
Monday May 11th, 3.50pm
With all of the recent challenges facing our landlords, Callum and Nurit hosted a live session to discuss how the new regulations and the current rental market may affect you and your investment property.
In this session, we presented:
- The challenges facing landlords and tenants
- The actionable steps we are taking to minimise the impact on your income
- Latest changes to legislation
You can view the recording HERE
Monday April 27th, 12.55pm
The Bill for Covid19 related tenancy regulations was passed through the lower house of the Victorian Parliament on Thursday the 23rd of April. Consumer Affairs Victoria has released some information regarding the implementation of this which you can find HERE.
Please be aware that Consumer Affairs Victoria needs to provide further clarification on the operational details of the new Bill prior to us being able to implement the next steps.
For those with vacant or upcoming vacant properties, it is encouraging to see enquiry levels and attendance at inspections has started to pick up and we are confident that moving forward, we should start to see a more stable market.
Although levels of prospective tenant enquiry has increased, we are still finding the market is very price sensitive and we are having to be proactive with price adjustments where necessary to ensure we are able to attract a quality tenant whilst minimizing vacancy.
Wednesday April 15th, 6.08pm
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announces rent relief package
We hope you had a safe and restful Easter break. There have been a lot of questions around the effect that COVID-19 will have on the property industry. While no one can predict what’s to come, we want to ensure that you are kept up to date with changes as they happen.
This morning, Daniel Andrews announced a $500 million rent relief package for Victorians aimed at giving certainty to residential and commercial tenants and landlords, while they struggle with the unprecedented economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic – with emergency legislation to be put into the Parliament next Thursday.
To get through this crisis, we all have to work together. Partnerships will have to be formed between tenants and landlords, and landlords and their banks – to help people continue to pay the rent and keep a roof over their heads.
Tenants and landlords who struggle to strike a deal over rent reductions will be given access to a fast-tracked dispute resolution service, with Consumer Affairs Victoria or the Victorian Small Business Commission mediating to ensure fair agreements are reached.
To encourage landlords to do the right thing by their tenants, the Government will provide $420 million in land tax relief. If a landlord provides tenants impacted by coronavirus with rent relief, they will be eligible for a 25 per cent discount on their land tax, while any remaining land tax can be deferred until March 2021.
A new Coronavirus Relief Deputy Commissioner will be established at the State Revenue Office to manage these land tax relief claims.
To provide much needed peace of mind and security, evictions will be banned for residential tenancies for six months, except in some circumstances. Evictions will also be banned for six months for the non-payment of rent for commercial tenancies involving small and medium-sized businesses. Rental increases will also be banned for commercial and residential properties for the same period.
The Government will also create an $80 million rental assistance fund for renters facing hardship due to coronavirus. To be eligible, renters will need to have registered their revised agreement with Consumer Affairs Victoria or gone through mediation, have less than $5,000 in savings and still be paying at least 30 per cent of their income in rent.
As agreed by National Cabinet, these new measures will come into effect from 29 March for a period of six months.
As the situation has developed, we are starting to see some arrears across our portfolio. We have been working closely with both tenants and landlords and we are confident that between the jobseeker package and above relief package, that we will be able to mitigate rental income loss for the majority of our landlords.
We strongly advise our landlords to come to a mutually agreeable arrangement with their tenants. If a dispute proceeds to court, both landlord and tenant will need to demonstrate they acted reasonably in the crisis. Many owners will be keen not to lose a good tenant in the crisis. Even when the pandemic subsides, it will take time for the rental market to fully recover.
There are two options for landlords to consider. The first is offering tenants a rent reduction – where the landlord does not seek to recover the reduced rent. It is unclear how this will affect your landlord insurance at this stage, but we have been advised that if the tenant defaults further, the loss of rental income will be calculated based on the reduced rental amount. Please consider this when working through your options.
The other option is the deferral of rent. You may agree to a rent variation, where we would document in writing that the tenant will pay a lower amount in rent for a set period of time, however, at the end of this period of time, the amount deferred will be fully recoverable. It is still unclear how this will impact your landlord insurance, but the initial advice we have received from our preferred providers, is that the full rental amount will be accounted for in a claim. Effectively, we are allowing them to go into controlled arrears, via a payment plan.
As always, we are here to help and assist in any way we can. Please don’t hesitate to contact us anytime should you wish to discuss further.
Tuesday April 14th, 3.08pm
Victoria backtracks on open inspection curbs
Victoria has backtracked on a tough social distancing rule introduced only last week preventing open inspections of occupied homes, a requirement that would have all but shut down the struggling residential market.
Consumer Affairs Minister Marlene Kairouz on Monday reversed regulations the government had justified as recently as Friday – on the grounds that an open inspection was no reason for a resident to leave their home under current COVID-19 restrictions on movement – following heavy lobbying by the real estate industry.
“We just had extensive conversations with the minister over the weekend and with the government,” Real Estate Institute of Victoria president Leah Calnan told The Australian Financial Review on Monday.
“It just seems that perhaps there was the practical aspect of what real estate agents were already doing that wasn’t property understood.”
The guidelines were put in place late last Thursday, triggering a call to arms from the REIV to its members on Good Friday.
Monday’s about-face highlights the difficulty policy makers face in managing containment of the highly contagious virus. Victoria’s short-lived rule was imposed even as talk was turning to ways to begin lifting some of the heavy-handed policies that have left the economy staring into recession and are expected to have cost 30,000 people their jobs in March alone.
Wednesday April 1st, 3:34pm
March 2020 has certainly been a wild ride, with the real estate sector one of the hardest hit by new operating conditions.
Over the past few weeks, we have adapted our business to ensure we are running at near capacity.
Most of our team are now working from home, having successfully set up to be fully functional. We are communicating via Zoom meetings and using fantastic technology including Monday project management, Calendly and Slack to ensure we are across everything and operating at close to business as usual as possible.
Physical routine inspections have ceased by we have, in the meantime, transitioned to recorded Zoom inspections with the tenant, coupled with submission of images.
In the last 7 days, we have fielded 137 enquiries, registered 87 people for inspections and processed 16 tenancy applications. Although lower than the usual numbers, in terms of tenant demand, it is clear that people are still needing a place to live and still looking to move, and with the above measures in place, we are able to service their needs.
We are working hard to ensure each and every one of our vacant properties is getting the exposure required to secure a quality tenant as swiftly as possible. We are hosting Facebook Live inspections, as well as private virtual inspections for those who prefer. We are also conducting private physical (albeit contactless) inspections with prospects. Our current procedure for those preferring to inspect in person is below:
Arrears and Financial Hardship:
At this stage, arrears across the business is really low and in line with what we would normally expect. Across our entire portfolio, tenant arrears of more than 7 days are currently at 1.1% and arrears of more than 14 days are 0.4%
With the government announcing the job keeper package to the tune of $130 billion, we are confident it will help alleviate the financial hardship and concerns many of our tenants are facing.
There will be tenants, such as non-Australian residents who will not be eligible. Some tenants have already reached out to us, requesting assistance and advice. We are closely working with them on a case by case basis and ensuring we keep their landlords in the loop.
All tenants requesting rent relief will need to submit a Tenancy Relief Application Form which will be processed and vetted prior to contacting landlords. We are mindful that many of our landlords are experiencing their own challenges and constraints. With a freeze on evictions, it is imperative we work together with both parties to ensure a favourable outcome for all.
We will be working and exploring all options as the situation develops, we will continue to keep you informed.
You are most welcome to contact us at anytime to discuss.
Monday March 30, 1:37pm
The latest announcements…
Following the latest announcements from both the Federal and State Governments which have made reference to residential tenancies, we wanted to provide a summary for you.
The announcements were brief and though we are still awaiting greater details from State Government and Real Estate Governing bodies, the limited information we have taken from the announcements are:
– Tenants will not be able to be evicted if they are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 for the next six months. Our understanding the Moratorium is that this is a postponement of eviction/rent and that arrears will still accrue and be payable in future.
– As your Managing Agent, we will be thoroughly vetting any such requests via a Tenant Hardship Application which we have produced. We believe that this will help us determine if there is an element of hardship, and what the financial capabilities are with relation to rent. You can view the application we request the tenants submit HERE.
– We will contact you to discuss qualified claims of hardship and advise what we believe to be the most appropriate payment terms. Federal Government advice is that Landlords, Tenants and Banks will all have to work together in order to come to an agreement that mutually benefits all parties.
As you can appreciate, this is our initial understanding and new information will come to light once the State Government advises further.
We will endeavour to update you every step of the way and as always, we are here to help if you require any clarity, assistance or further information.
Thursday March 26, 2:42pm
Exploring your options…
Lenders have been proactive and are taking the extraordinary step of offering to defer affected customers (business or home loan) mortgage repayments for up to six months. Some have also announced huge reductions in interest rates for home loan and business customers. These are great initiatives, however, we implore you to proceed carefully when thinking about deferring your loan repayments. Do not rush into this. If you feel there are no other options be sure to ask your Lender and/or Adviser the following questions so you fully understand the implications of hardship provisions:
- Is interest capitalized during the deferral period?
- Is the loan term extended?
- What will the expected repayment be at the end of the deferral period?
- Will a repayment deferral period impact your credit score?
- Will you be able to refinance at the end of the deferral period?
Some of our colleagues in the Mortgage Broking industry have already shared cases of their clients who have called Lenders to take advantage of these provisions. Their clients were granted access very quickly and without much discussion at all. They had no idea what this meant for their contracted loan repayments over the long term and further to the above question (number four), they were unaware that Comprehensive Credit Reporting (CCR) is now a key part of most loan approval decisions, so any impact on their credit score may affect their future ability to obtain credit.
What steps can you take now?
A quality business adviser will discuss emergency planning, commonly referred to in business as a ‘Business Continuity Plan’ (BCP), with their clients. Executive teams and IT departments across the country have probably been running on very little sleep over the past few weeks as they enact their own BCP’s, mainly focused on remote workforces and data security. Everyday Australians should also be thinking about how to operate their finances in BCP mode. Think about what you can do now to smooth out any coming bumps in the road that cannot be seen yet. Below is a short list of steps that might help.
- Speak to your Broker or Lending Manager – If you feel like you’re unable to repay your loans over the coming 3 – 6 months then reach out to your Broker or Lending Manager. With a clear head, they should be able to guide you through your options.
- Start a budget – Writing down an income versus expenses budget moving forward is one thing, but it’s very rare for this to match what has actually been happening. Companies have become very good at taking our money via small monthly subscriptions, which are either forgotten about or which don’t seem expensive when considered individually. The rise of ‘tap and go’ payments also makes it difficult to accurately track expenses. Understanding where your money is going right now is critical. There are many software programs that allow full collation of all expenses to linked bank accounts via a data feed. This will help you build a realistic budget and cut out unnecessary costs. It’s time to reign in the spending!
- Understand your equity position – Get a bank valuation completed so you know your true net asset position. It will make negotiating (see below) easier.
- Utilize offset accounts – This can help to reduce interest costs and store any excess funds.
- Understand redraw facilities – Excess loan repayments might be accessible via ‘redraw’. What is available to you? Do you have access to other automatic credit?
- Consider reducing repayments to the minimum contracted level – Most lenders will not bring your repayment down when interest rates drop so your minimum contracted repayment might actually be a lot lower than what you’re paying presently.
- Negotiate a lower interest rate – Lenders might be willing to reduce your variable interest rate if you discuss your desire to move to another Lender with competitive interest rates. Lenders will ‘price for risk’ so if you have 20% or more equity in the property it’s likely they will negotiate with you. A good call script will assist here. You may also consider some of the 1 – 3 year fixed interest rate loans that have come into the market last week. Some are 2.19% pa.
- Consider switching to interest-only repayments – This might be an appropriate short term strategy to reduce cash flow strain. The switching process is cumbersome at most Lenders and if you’re successful, be aware that it will be likely to increase the total amount of interest paid over the life of your loan. But at least you will avoid potentially being tarnished with a loan under hardship provisions.
Wednesday March 25, 5:42pm
Our Latest Update
Friday March 20, 2:16pm
Office Update – March
We would like to give you updates on what is happening here at Motion Property in line with the current climate.
We write to give you an update on what Motion Property is doing to manage challenges relating to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Our Management team have formulated several escalated or preventative impact business continuity plans and considered a wide range of scenarios in relation to this growing outbreak. Our intent is to be factual and well prepared, but we do not wish to be alarmist in relation to this outbreak.
For now, we will continue to take a ‘business as usual’ approach to this outbreak. However, we are prepared to change this directive for our team members in future as government warnings and advice change. Our priority is to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 and to prioritise the health and safety of our team members and our clients.
What this means for our clients:
- We are currently still working in the office. Our business is geared for our teams to work from home, we have invested in technology that will enable us to still take calls from our clients during business hours and access all the data and information if required. You can always reach us if you have any questions or queries.
- Rental disbursements will proceed as usual with our accounting team working remotely
Repairs & Maintenance
- We’re aiming to prioritise and limit the number of non-essential repairs and tasks across our property management portfolio. This means some repairs may be delayed
- We are working with our contractors to ensure continuity of services during a severe outbreak or lockdown.
- Face to Face Routine Inspections have been suspended. We have introduced virtual inspections via Zoom, with reports still being issued to landlords.
Visitors to our offices
- All visitors will be required to sign-in including those just dropping into reception. We have also placed signs up to remind visitors that if they are unwell or have returned from a high-risk country to not enter the premises. We encourage visitors to contact us via phone where possible during the coming weeks.
- We’ve removed all non-essential contact across our company. Any required meetings that we have between our team, or with customers is strictly no contact. Video conferencing options are in place for those wanting to see our lovely faces.
- New tenant induction and sign-ups are now being done digitally.
Open Homes and Inspections:
Understandably a lot of people aren’t offering their homes to be open to the public at this time. We’re aiming to get as many buyers and prospective tenants as possible through the homes on the terms of the homeowners and tenants without risking their health and safety. We will aim to be consistently communicating the current situation with interested parties so please register your interest if you’re still looking to visit opens.
We’re following industry advice as follows:
- Have hand sanitizer available for use by anyone viewing the property
- Display COVID-19 information and hygiene notices at the property/auction, including a statement at the entrance saying that: Those who are feeling unwell may not enter the open home/auction
Anyone who has returned from abroad or has been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days should be self-isolating and may not enter the property if an attendee feels unwell within 14 days of attending an open home/auction, they should contact the agent
- For private viewings of open homes, the above information should be emailed to attendees in advance
We’ll also be taking advantage of digital technologies wherever possible to take tours into safe virtual environments. By digitally delivering media like photos and videos and 3d virtual walkthroughs.
What this means for our team:
We know our team is one of the main reasons for the success of our business. And their health and wellbeing is of utmost importance to us. We are implementing ‘keep safe’ initiatives to make sure they are fit and well:
- As we mentioned above, if the time comes, some of our team will have the ability to work from home. This helps to prevent the spread of the virus.
- Internal events, functions and travel are being cancelled or postponed.
- Our team has been briefed on the importance of cleanliness and the office has been topped up with sanitizers, disinfectants and cleaning wipes.
- We are lucky to work in a large open office. Our team members have the option to move to a more isolated at of the office to ensure they are limiting interaction with other team members.
- All team members are being urged to stay at home should they feel sick or develop flu-like symptoms.
Where does Motion Property fit into your situation?
We want to reach out to you to see if you have been affected. And if so, in what way? We all have financial commitments that will continue to exist yet there could be a reduction to income or work meaning that household cash-flow could be brought into focus.
- Are you currently in isolation? Can we assist with connecting you with organizations that can provide additional assistance?
- Do you have family or friends visiting from interstate or overseas and are stranded? Can we assist in finding more suitable short term accommodation for them?
- Has your employment situation changed? We are here to help – please get in touch so we can assess the best way to get you through these times.
Please consider landlord’s insurance if you don’t already have this in place. We can arrange this for you at a discounted rate.
Would it be helpful to:
- Refinance your home loan or Investment loan to a lower interest rate?
- Arrange for a top up of current loan to help with cash flow?
- Switch to interest only repayments (temporarily)?
- Extension of loan or financial hardship application?
We can assist and connect you with the best in the industry.
We are open to have a discussion about how you can tackle the next few weeks until we have a clearer idea of things.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support.
If you have any further questions regarding your property, please don’t hesitate to contact us on the details below.