Safety and sales at risk as tenants refuse entry

worker installing smoke detector on the ceiling

The REIQ is calling for a government framework to allow access to propreties for essential work during COVID-19.

Frustrated landlords and property managers have been warned not to barge into properties as an increasing number of tenants refuse entry citing coronavirus concerns.

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) has received multiple requests for advice from distressed property owners and managers who are being refused entry by tenants.

While some tenants are self-isolating with legitimate health concerns, others are using the pandemic to avoid routine inspections, safety checks and emergency maintenance.

“We’ve been getting a lot of sales managers calling our property managers’ support service on these issues,” said REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella.

“We’ve heard stories where tenants are refusing entry to check or install smoke alarms or safety switches which are statutory requirements for owners.

“We’re also being told of cases where tenants are making it hard to bring prospective purchasers through the property or refusing access to contractors to carry out pest and building inspections or to complete a valuation.”

QLD_CM_PRIMEREIQ_28JULY16

REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella.

Other scenarios being raised by Queensland property managers include a new owner being prevented from moving into their property at settlement after the tenant refused to vacate citing COVID-19, while another tenant has refused to move due to issues getting a removalist.

“We are talking to government about ensuring that we don’t end up having tenants prevent a sale from going ahead or cause a contract to fall over because that could be disastrous,” Ms Mercorella said.

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In the meantime, there may not be a lot property managers and landlords can do until legislative changes are put in place.

“Some agents are saying that they are barging ahead and entering none-the-less, but that’s not what we would recommend in these circumstances,” Ms Mercorella said.

“If a tenant has a concern then acknowledge the concerns and explain the process you follow before letting anyone into the property.

“We completely acknowledge how incredibly frustrating this is and behind the scenes we are doing all that we can to get a good outcome on this issue.”

Ms Mercorella said the REIQ has asked State Government for a declaration of essential entry requirements, such as checking smoke alarms, safety switches and making emergency repairs.

“The government needs to provide a framework for those things to happen in a safe and professional manner,” she said.

Many property managers are now conducting routine inspections remotely, working with tenants to do FaceTime walk-throughs while others are using are using an app which allows tenants to complete a questionnaire and upload photos.