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Covid-19 Information for Tenants and Landlords

By Admin Whangarei

Current as of 15 May 2020

Ray White property managers understand that communication is at the heart of every successful relationship, and the same applies for privately managed tenancies. At a time where much confusion and anxiety can exist, we want to ensure that all tenants and landlords have the answers they need surrounding Covid-19.

As you will be aware, the way that we show properties, and many of our processes, have changed due to COVID-19.

Our priority is to ensure that sellers and buyers feel confident they are safe during the period that they work with us.

On 11 May 2020, the Government announced that New Zealand can safely move out of Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2 from 14 May 2020.  Under Alert Level 2 our offices we are encouraged to keep our offices closed to the public. Property Managers and staff have been advised that they should also work from home where possible.

Covid-19 Response Legislation Bill

The Covid-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill came into law on the 26 March 2020, creating a number of changes both tenants and landlords should be aware of.  (To learn more or read the legislation itself, visit the links outlined at the end of this document.)  – This includes:

Tenancy Terminations or Vacating Notices

  • Under the emergency legislation, tenants cannot be given notice to vacate their property for at least three months (until 26 June at the earliest).
  • Vacating notices that were previously sent but were yet to come into effect are now void.
  • Tenants can still give normal vacating notice as per pre- Covid-19 rules (e.g. 21 days notice in periodic tenancy etc).
  • Landlords cannot terminate a tenancy unless for very specific reasons outlined in the new Act. If a landlord has already given a termination notice that was due to come into effect, the notice is now void unless it falls under one of these reasons. – They are:
    – Substantial property damage
    – Assault or threatening behaviour
    – Abandonment of the property
    – Significant antisocial behaviour
    – Rent arrears of 60 days or more.

Rental Increases

  • Under the emergency legislation, rents are now frozen at their current level for a minimum of 6 months.
  • All rent increase notices previously sent to tenants that were yet to come into effect are now void.

Ray White Property Management Safe Practice Guidelines

Our priority is to ensure that our landlords and tenants feel confident they are safe during the period that they work with us.  In addition to the Covid-19 Response Legislation Bill we are operating under industry advice and adhering to a set of strict Safe Practice Guidelines – which include the following:

Routine Inspections

Under Alert Level 2 we are resuming routine property inspections, however, with strict safety guidelines and contact tracing measures in place. 

We are understanding of the current situation and know that many of our tenants are still working from home with their children or families etc. 

We do not expect things to be “perfect”, rather this is an opportunity for us to quickly visit and ensure everything at the property is okay. 

Tenants Inspection Responsibilities under Alert Level 2

  • Please contact us immediately if you or other occupants are self-isolating, have travelled overseas in the last three months, have tested positive for Covid-19 or you are unwell (now or at the time of the inspection)
  • You are not required at the property during the inspection (in the current climate, this is our preference) however if you are present, we ask that you assist us with social distancing requirements (1m minimum)
  • Please let us know if you intend to have any guests at the property when we visit, or be aware that we may require this information for contact tracing purposes
  • Please have the home ready for inspection as best as you can – all lights on, doors open, oven door and cupboards etc or anything that will require physical access by the property manager.

Property Manager Inspection Responsibilities under Alert Level 2.

  • Our property manager will not attend the inspection if they themselves are unwell and will give you adequate notice of any postponement.
  • Our employees have not been overseas within the last two months, been self- isolating, had Covid 19 or been in contact with someone that has tested positive for Covid 19 and is not currently unwell.
  • One property manager only will be on site during inspections and they will adhere to all social distancing requirements
  • Our property manager will use hand sanitiser, protective gloves and will have (if required) face masks and antiseptic wipes.

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns and we assure you that your health and safety throughout this inspection process is paramount to us. 

Property Viewing Attendees

  • All our advertising is being updated to direct tenants to apply online before a viewing can be confirmed
  • Our Property Managers will carefully vet tenants before arranging viewing times with applicants
  • Successful applicants will have Covid-19 Safe Alert Level 2 viewing practices provided

Property Viewings – Vacant Properties

  • All viewings are by appointment only
  • One property manager to attend a viewing only and keep all private viewings brief
  • Ensure physical distancing is maintained at all times (1 metres)
  • Attendees will have Covid-19 safe Alert Level 2 viewing practices, including hygiene expectations, provided to them prior to any private viewing
  • We will pre-register all private viewing attendees with verified contact details for contact tracing – or no viewing can occur.
  • We will encourage online viewing methods where possible e.g. video walk through
  • We will not provide viewings at properties where a person previously living there has been unwell or self-isolating in the 14 days prior to the viewing
  • We will retain all attendee information in case this may be requested later by Worksafe or Ministry of Health.

Property Viewings – Tenanted Properties

  • Viewings at a tenanted property can only occur in the following circumstances
    – All other safety steps outlined when ‘at the property’ (below) are followed
    – Tenants are not present at the property during a viewing
    – When written consent from all tenants has been provided
  • All viewings are by appointment only
  • One property manager to attend a viewing only and keep all private viewings brief
  • The private viewing must be contactless so property managers should open any doors or cupboards before the viewing
  • Ensure physical distancing is maintained at all times (1 metre)
  • Attendees will have Covid-19 safe Alert Level 2 viewing practices, including hygiene expectations, provided to them prior to any private viewing
  • Pre-register all private viewing attendees with verified contact details for contact tracing – or no viewing can occur.
  • We will encourage online viewing methods where possible e.g. video walk through
  • No viewings at properties where a person previously living there has been unwell or self-isolating in the 14 days prior to the viewing
  • We will retain all attendee information in case this may be requested later by Worksafe or Ministry of Health.

At the Property

  • Ensure physical distancing is maintained at all times (1 metre)
  • Remove shoes at the entry of the property
  • Have hand sanitiser or soap on display and ask attendees to use it upon entry and exit
  • Open internal/external doors beforehand to minimise surface transmission
  • Our Property Managers will wash their hands with hand sanitiser or soap between each customer contact
  • We will endeavour to clean any high traffic areas after viewings including door handles, railings and all hard surfaces.
  • Viewing times will be spaced appropriately to reduce the risk of contact with next attendees
  • No viewings in areas with clusters (as identified by the Ministry of Health website which will be checked daily)

Viewing Attendees

  • All attendees are to receive the Alert Level 2 private viewing guidelines email template, outlining key safety steps for the viewing
  • We will instruct all attendees entering the property not to touch anything
  • Ensure physical distancing is maintained at all times (2 metres)
  • We will not hand out any marketing material – but will email or pre-post these or make available online
  • Those feeling unwell, or who have traveled overseas recently, are self-isolating or have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 may not enter the property
  • High-risk customers should not attend any viewing (those over 70 or with existing medical conditions)
  • If anyone exhibits symptoms of flu, respectfully enquire the nature of their illness in relation to any overseas travel/potential exposure to COVID-19 and you may refuse entry.

Property Maintenance

  • Maintenance is allowed in a tenanted property under Alert Level 2
  • If property is tenanted, we will obtain confirmation that the tenants have not been unwell with flu like symptoms, self-isolating or been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the previous 14 days and advise tradesperson so they can arrange appropriate PPE if necessary
  • Record contact details of any tradesperson visiting the property and the date they attended, to assist with contact tracing
  • The property manager or landlord should not attend the property with the tradesperson
  • Tradespeople attending a property will be instructed to:
    • adhere to physical distancing (2 metres)
    •  not attend the property if occupants have been overseas recently, are self-isolating or have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 14 days, or if they or anyone they have been in contact with have been a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 14 days
    • limit number of persons at the property and their time at the property
    • minimise in-person contact with tenants.
  • Ask the tradesperson to sanitise areas they may have touched
  • If the property is vacant, the property manager can arrange access for any kind of maintenance (urgent or non-urgent) but should not attend the property with the tradesperson.

Rental Appraisals & Listings

  • Physical appraisals can be completed under Alert Level 2
  • Only one property manager to attend the property
  • Ensure physical distancing is maintained at all times (2 metres)
  • Do not touch any surfaces – the visit must be contactless
  • Do not attend property if occupants have been overseas recently, are self-isolating or have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • Ask any occupant to open internal/external doors beforehand to minimise surface transmission
  • Property managers and photographers/ videographers must not attend a property if either they or anyone at the property have been unwell with flu like symptoms, are self-isolating or have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the previous 14 days
  • Wash your hands with hand sanitiser or soap before and after any customer contact

New Tenancy & Management Agreements

  • The signing of new tenancy & management agreements can take place in the office or property.
  • Tenants or landlords can enter a Ray White office – although we are trying to minimise this where possible.

Moving Tenants

  • Tenants can move house during Alert Level 2
  • Physical distancing is to be maintained
  • Allow ample time between a previous tenancy end date and a new tenancy start date to ensure the property is provided safe and clean and free from risk of Covid-19 transmission (we recommend a minimum of three days)
  • Ingoing and vacating inspections can be conducted by the property manager, only when:
    • The property is vacant
    • The inspection must be conducted alone by the property manager and not involve contact with any other customers or staff
    • The previous occupants have not been overseas recently, were self-isolating at the home or have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 14 days
    • Key drop-offs and pick-ups must not involve contact with other customers or staff

Property Cleaning

  • It is recommended that landlords arrange for professional cleaners to clean a vacant rental property for the new tenants to ensure the relevant hygiene controls are being followed
  • Landlords may be able to thoroughly clean the vacant property themselves prior to any new tenants taking possession
  • Evidence of any cleaning undertaken should be recorded and provided to the incoming tenants if they request this.

Further Information

For further information please contact your Property Manager directly, or call our head of Property Management, Karen Cooper on 027 550 0881.

If you would like to receive a copy of further educational resources we produce, such as our Landlord, Tenant or Investment Information Guide, please ask your Ray White property manager for a free copy today.

Resources & Links

Ministry of Housing & Urban Development: Here you can find links to the emergency legislation and an informative Q&A document.
> Ministry of Housing & Urban Development website

Tenancy Services: General information for both tenants and landlords e.g. emergency repairs and how to classify plus specific advice Tenants and Landlords under Alert Level 2.
>Tenancy Services website
> Alert Level 2 Guidance for Landlords and Tenants

Covid 19 New Zealand Government: Government updates to Covid-19 and financial support information for tenants and landlords.
> Covid 19 New Zealand Government website

Work and Income: Resources for tenants and landlords to seek financial support and assistance.
> Work & Income website

Ministry of Health: The latest news and updates on the current Covid-19 situation in New Zealand.
> Ministry of Health website

This information is correct at the time of writing (15 May2020), however, may be subject to change. Tenants and landlords should seek further advice through the official sources listed above, or call your Ray White property manager for the latest updates.

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