A dilemma Landlords and Property Managers are facing is when tenants who are isolating due to COVID-19 regulations are unable to vacate a rental property by the previously agreed upon date. The Real Estate Institute of Queensland has provided a guide on how to handle the situation.
In the normal process to vacate a property, the tenant either gives the agent a Form 13 notice to vacate or they are served with a Form 12 notice to leave with a deadline set for the property to be vacant.
The tenant will then make arrangements to move by this date and the agent will go about advertising and re-leasing the property.
With people testing positive for COVID-19 and their close contacts required to isolate in their accommodation for seven days, vacating deadlines are sometimes not being met.
Under government directions, people can only leave their accommodation for emergency situations such as:
- going to a hospital for urgent medical care
- going to a birthing suite to support someone who is giving birth (the hospital needs to approve you being there)
- escaping harm or risk, including sexual or domestic and family violence
- in an emergency or disaster, such as a fire or flood.
You can apply to QCAT for a failure to leave decision and agents should remember there is a time frame of 14 days upon expiry of the Form 12 or Form 13 to make that application.
However, the time and cost of making such an application may not be useful if the COVID-19 isolating tenant is only staying in the property a few days after they are supposed to vacate.
You could instead negotiate the expiry date of the existing tenancy and start date of the new tenancy with the parties.
This may include allowing the tenants additional time to move out and complete their responsibilities under the tenancy agreement, especially if additional cleaning is required, before a new tenant moves in.
If a new date is negotiated, then it may be necessary to obtain an updated Form 13 to ensure you have a new date to act upon in the event the tenant does not vacate again.
The solution would depend on the tenants’ circumstances and may vary on a case-by-case basis. The key is to ensure you engage in open and clear communication between all parties to try and mitigate the problems that arise.
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