Navigating rental properties during COVID-19
There’s no doubt that lockdown and movement restrictions have made life a little bit more complicated for Australians, particularly those in Victoria. With many people’s circumstances changing from a financial and lifestyle perspective, the rental market is abuzz with activity, yet inspections and rental procedures are far from straightforward.
In this climate, tenants and landlords alike are unclear about what they can and can’t do when navigating the rental market. Belle Property and Hockingstuart CEO, Peter Hanscomb, says that during these times, the property manager and the tenant or landlord need to keep the communication lines open.
“With change being the only constant at the moment, it’s important to have open and honest conversations with the property manager as the market and regulations change.”
Prior to social distancing restrictions, most real estate agencies required people to attend an open inspection before being able to submit a rental application. In responding to medical and government recommendations, property managers are now offering different ways to market, view and apply for a rental property. In particular, this has seen a shift towards virtual and remote technology to emulate the inspection period.
“We understand how important becoming familiar with a home is to renters, so we have introduced a number of tools at Belle Property to allow people to continue to research, inspect and apply for rental properties. One of the ways that we have adapted to market conditions is through digital marketing options that allow the landlord or tenant to take photos of the property on their phone or personal cameras, and our partner, Diakrit, edits the photos and builds the virtual tour product,” explains Peter.
Alongside virtual tours, search platforms such as domain.com.au and realestate.com.au allow tenants to find out a lot of technical information about a property from the comfort of their home., To support tenant research and make a property appealing to the right audience, listings should include a lot of information including keywords such as ‘Pets Allowed’ or ‘Off Street Parking’.
The inspection and application process has been similarly transformed. Property managers are now able to offer private and virtual inspections and all applications for rental properties are entirely online. If you are an existing tenant and are wanting maintenance to be done or to adopt a pet, check-in with your property manager who will be able to assist.
For those currently in a rental agreement, broader market forces may have impacted their circumstances. “We have also seen a slight increase in people wanting to negotiate a price drop in their rent, my advice is to speak directly with your property manager as every market and circumstance is different,” says Peter.
Peter continues, “There are government initiatives to assist those experiencing hardship, and our property managers are supportive and open to having conversations with both tenants and landlords.”
If you are based in Victoria
For rental assistance, head to Housing VIC to see what grants and assistance are available for you.
Looking to begin a new lease? You can do so during Victoria’s Stage 4 restrictions, with private one-on-one inspections available as of September 28th. All paperwork must be done online.
Want to know the renting rules and support during the moratorium (ends 28 March 2021)? Head to Consumer Affairs Victoria.
If more information about how you can continue to lease and rent, reach out to one of Hockingstuart's experienced agents or offices today.