The current and sudden Sydney lockdowns have caused great confusion for landlords, tenants and property managers. We now have some clarity. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Repairs and maintenance in tenanted properties

Only urgent repairs and maintenance can occur. Everything else needs to wait until things reopen again. For tenants, our recommendation is to report any issues to your property manager, just as you usually would, and let them determine the urgency or otherwise.

2. Cleaning, repairs and maintenance in vacant rental properties

If you have a vacant investment property, cleaning, repairs and maintenance are permitted providing they are necessary for re-leasing the property.

3. Inspections and opens

In the Greater Sydney area, one-on-one property opens are allowed as long as they follow current COVID restrictions.

4. Rent reductions and protection from eviction

Tenants can request a substantial rent reduction if they fall into the category of an “impacted tenant” and provide evidence of this to the landlord or property manager.

An “impacted tenant” is a member of a household who has suffered a reduced weekly income (due to the impact of COVID-19) of at least 25% because one or more of the rent-paying members of the household have:

  • Lost employment or income
  • Experienced reduced work hours or income
  • Stopped working or substantially reduced their work hours because:
    • They are ill with COVID-19
    • Another member of the household has COVID-19
    • They need to take care of a family member who is ill with COVID-19

Tenants are advised to have honest discussions about their financial situation with landlords (or their property manager) so an agreement can be reached on the rent to be paid for the duration of the lockdown.

“Impacted tenants” can pay at least 25% of their usual weekly rent to receive a 60 day moratorium on eviction. This moratorium includes failure to pay rent and other breaches of the tenancy agreement under section 87 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW).

5. Relief for landlords

Landlords who provide tenants with rental relief can apply for Residential Tenancy Support Payments. These payments are based on the rental reduction provided – to a maximum of $1500 per property.

Alternatively, landlords can apply for land tax concessions. These concessions are the equivalent of the rental reduction provided to each tenant, up to 100% of your 2021 land tax liability.

Owning an investment property is complicated

We can’t recall a more complicated time to be a landlord. Not only do you need to understand how the current lockdowns affect any repairs, maintenance and cleaning that can be done. There’s the added burden of having difficult conversations with tenants about their financial ability to pay rent.

If you manage your own investment property, I suggest it’s time to seek help from a professional property manager. If you currently engage a property manager, you need to evaluate how confident you are in their negotiation skills and understanding of the legislation.

For help or a second opinion, contact Brigitte from Stills Properties. With over 35 years’ property management experience, she understands the rights and obligations of both landlords and tenants. To get in touch with her call 1300 091 638 or email propertymanager@stillsproperties.com.au

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