Will Active Agents close as a result of COVID-19?
In short, no.
Managing rental properties is considered an essential service, as we are facilitating shelter for our tenants and on behalf of our landlords. Therefore, we are confident that our business will be allowed to continue to operate as normal.
As Active Agents has been designed to be as digitally friendly as possible, not many of our administrative duties have had to change. It is only our general face-to-face duties that have had to be adjusted.
To date, all our staff are well and healthy and able to perform their duties.
How can I contact my Property Manager?
Our team are continuing to utilise online systems to successfully perform most of their duties remotely and our contact details remain the same. In most cases, we encourage email as the best form of communication.
What is happening with Rent Payments?
We understand the financial difficulty that many tenants will be experiencing – through no fault of their own. We also understand that most property owners will be going through similar hardships, and they need the rent money to make their mortgage payments.
If a tenant’s situation has not changed and they are not affected by COVID-19, they are expected to keep making their rent payments. We are obligated in these cases to issue breach notices and follow the eviction process for non-payment of rent.
If tenants are unable to make their full rental payments as a result of COVID-19, they need to contact us immediately (preferably by email). We will send them a Tenant Financial Hardship Application to complete, providing evidence of financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19. We will then present this to the owner for their consideration.
The government is of course providing emergency assistance to those who have lost their jobs due to this crisis, so we are urging all tenants to take advantage of these grants and use this money to prioritise their rent payments.
Can I get a Rent Reduction?
The following information applies to our tenants who find themselves in financial stress and unable to make their full rental payments due to the COVID-19 crisis. Tenants who have not been financially affected by COVID-19 are expected to continue making their rent payments.
Your first action should be to contact Centrelink and other government agencies who are supplying emergency assistance to all affected by COVID-19.
Next, you need to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will send you a Rental Payment Reduction Request to complete, along with a Tenant Hardship Application. You will also need to provide evidence of financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19. We will then present this to the owner for their consideration.
Please be aware that many property owners are also experiencing serious hardship at this time, and may not be in a position to offer a rent reduction. However, we hope to be able to work with all parties to get through this crisis together.
How are you Managing the Process of Finding New Tenants?
To protect both current and prospective tenants, we have made it policy to NOT hold viewings while tenants are still in place. Our first viewing is held after the property has been cleaned and the vacate inspection has been completed.
We utilise our Virtual Tour Camera to create a digital at-your-leisure inspection of each of our properties, along with video walkthroughs for our potential tenants.
To compensate for the delay in being able to view the property, we encourage interested tenants to apply so that they can be ‘short-listed’ if everything checks out fine. Our online application platform Tenant Options makes applying for a property quick and effortless – no need to print, and no need for face-to-face meetings or exchange of paperwork. If the prospect is happy to take the property sight unseen, we can communicate this further with all parties.
At the property viewing, we strictly adhere to social distancing and hygiene protocols. Firstly the staff member opens up the property to allow a free flow of air. Then high-touch surfaces like door handles and benches are wiped over with anti-bacterial solution.
If there is more than one person who would like to attend an inspection, we ask that this be done one person at a time so as to adhere to government social distancing and inspection guidelines. We also ask visitors to avoid touching anything inside the house.
Hasn’t the Government Banned Open Homes?
Yes, that’s correct. All our inspections are by appointment only and these will continue as per the Government Guidelines.
How do you Manage the New Tenant Sign-up?
Because we place a high importance on personal service in welcoming a new tenant, we needed to find alternate ways to keep the personal touch while maintaining social distancing.
Fortunately, Active Agents has been designed to be digitally friendly right from day one. This means any communication needs can be done through the Managed app and we also encourage electronic signing of leases and other documents as needed.
On the commencement of the lease, we are working on a video welcome where the leasing agent introduces our service, takes the new tenants through their welcome pack, and gives tips on how to ensure a smooth enjoyable tenancy. This is replacing the meeting the tenants have with our leasing agents on move in day.
Are you doing Routine Property Inspections?
We decided that entering a tenanted property to do a thorough inspection exposed both our staff and the tenant to an unacceptable level of risk.
Therefore, we took the hard decision to suspend all attended property inspections until it is deemed safe to resume them. In place of this we are working on unattended/remote inspections. In this case, we are requesting the tenant take photos of each room and any maintenance issues they may have noticed and send to us so we may still complete routine inspections.
Will Maintenance still be done at the Property?
Our contractors have their own protocols in place to minimise risk when visiting tenanted properties, so we expect routine maintenance to be attended to. The exceptions are those households that have occupants who are high risk, unwell, or in self-isolation.
Maintenance is actioned through our online Managed program which allows tenants to connect with us regarding the issue. The contractor may be able to determine the problem without visiting first, reducing the number of visits required.
Owners need to be aware that most contractors will not be willing to attend a tenanted property to quote a job; at best they can provide a desktop estimate.
Please also note that our contractors may also be experiencing more delays than normal so maintenance issues could take longer to resolve.
What is happening with Lease Renewals?
Now more than ever, it is vital to maintain stable, secure and safe tenancies, which is achieved by renewing fixed-term leases. We will still have discussions with owners and tenants and this will be a case by case scenario.
Fortunately we have always encouraged electronic signing of leases, so lease renewals are processed efficiently and safely without the need for face-to-face meetings or exchange of paperwork.
We recommend to owners to consider carefully any rent raises as many tenants’ financial situation will be unsettled and the goodwill an owner shows in these circumstances will benefit you in the long run.
How are Smoke Alarm checks being managed?
As you are aware, the law requires a property owner to have smoke alarms checked within 30 days of the start of a new lease.
If a tenant wishes to cancel the technician’s visit, in such cases we must accept the tenant’s wishes, and the responsibility for testing the smoke alarm is passed onto the tenant.
Once the crisis is over, we will of course arrange for the check to be completed for any that may be postponed.
What Happens when a Tenant Vacates the Property?
To limit face-to-face contact with our staff, we are asking tenants to drop off their keys in our meter box or to make alternate arrangements with us directly.
All documentation including the Exit Condition Report are to be emailed directly to the managing agent. Our exit procedure remains the same, as our agents perform their exit inspections without the tenant present.
Active Agents are Hervey Bay Real Estate Agents who specialise in Property Management. For current available properties for rent in Hervey Bay click here. To learn more about our Hervey Bay Property Managers, click here.