What could Alert Level 3 mean for property managers?
The Government has today released more detail about what New Zealanders will be able to do once Alert Level 4 lockdown is lifted because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Most, but not all businesses can start to open under Alert Level 3, but they must take health measures to keep their workers safe.
While the detail around what the property management industry can and cannot do is not totally clear, there is an indication that businesses will be able to operate under safe circumstances. More detailed guidance for sectors will be made over the coming days.
The Government’s COVID-19 website does say “a real estate agent can open, but people should work from home if they can. The agent can enter peoples homes, but not have customers in the office. You cannot run an open home.”
In this context, we believe a real estate agent includes the role of a property manager.
This may mean that property managers could return to doing routine inspections when Level 3 begins, if safety precautions are taken.
The Insurance Council of New Zealand recently confirmed for a landlord insurance policy, any deferred routine inspections will need to be completed as soon as physically possible.
Two-metre distancing, the use of hand sanitiser and the wiping of surfaces would all be recommended before and during routines inspection.
The Government website says open homes can’t take place.
From a property managers perspective, this means group viewings would not be allowed, but single viewings could possibly take place with the same safety precautions employed.
If a property is vacant, then single person viewings would likely be able to take place if the same safety measures are implemented.
However, where properties are already tenanted additional precautions are likely to be required. For example, only one person may be allowed inside the dwelling at one time.
We will release additional information as it comes to hand.
If tenants want to begin a new tenancy, they could be able to move to a new tenancy under Alert Level 3.
The Government website says in home services, such as movers can operate if safety precautions are employed.
This means from a property managers perspective that listing properties now in preparation for when we come out of lockdown is now possible.
“Property managers could now start advertising properties so when the COVID-19 Alert is dropped to Level 3, one-on-one viewings could take place and tenancy agreements could be signed,” tenancy.co.nz consultant Scotney Williams said.
Tenancy agreements won’t be able to be signed in a property managers workplace but the option of dropping documents to a tenant’s home, by post or signing electronically could be possible.
“You should include a clause in your tenancy agreement that the tenancy will only be able to commence when lockdown has been lifted,” Williams said.
“You could possibly include a second clause that says a tenant will only take on the tenancy if they have physically viewed the property.”
tenancy.co.nz’s eBundle online tenancy agreement enables tenants to sign it electronically and the COVID-19 provisional clauses can be found within Total Tenancy.
The Government will announce on Monday whether New Zealand will come out of lockdown next Thursday, April 23.
Further guidance on best practice for property managers under Alert Level 3 will be released in the coming days.