On Monday the 20th of April it was announced by the Government that New Zealand will be moving to Alert Level 3 at 11.59pm on Tuesday the 28th of April.
Since midnight on the 25th of March New Zealand has been at Alert Level 4. From this point, everyone was encouraged to remain in the house they stayed in that night for the next four weeks
Level 3 will have many of the same restrictions as Level 4. But some regulations will be easing up to let businesses reopen in a safe way. Businesses will need to start operating without physical contact with customers, while maintaining social distancing.
Aside from being able to get takeaways now (woohoo!) what will these new changes mean for landlords and tenants?
Can tenants move house at level 3?
At level 4, moving house was discouraged with the exception of extreme circumstances. The official advice from Tenancy Services is; “Moving properties at level three can only occur in very exceptional circumstances and all parties must take extreme care”
If you were not in the right place when the restrictions came into place, and need to get home, you can now move throughout New Zealand. The official advice is that you can only move once, and in one direction.
Moving house could prove to be difficult if moving companies are not yet open for service. Under Alert Level 3 you can extend your bubble a little. So if you're planning to move house, extend your bubble to include someone who can help you lift the fridge. You're now allowed to shout them fish and chips to say thank you.
Can landlords do rental inspections?
Rental inspections are an important part of a landlord's role. However, during level 4 they were classed as a non essential service. Inspecting a property while tenants are confined to the house during Level 4 is also not a good idea.
In-person inspections can be done in Level 3, but social distancing guidelines will apply. It is still necessary to be minimising contact with people outside of your immediate bubble, and of course staying home if you are feeling unwell.
Landlords need to check in with tenants to make sure they are not self isolating, or have COVID-19 symptoms before considering doing a flat inspection. The advice from the Insurance Council of New Zealand is for inspections to take place as soon as it is practical after health clearances. In addition to their advice, checking in with your own insurance company around specific requirements is strongly recommended.
What about a virtual rental inspection?
If the tenant agrees to it, the landlord can conduct a virtual inspection via video chat. Inspections are a great opportunity for touching base with tenants. Any issues with the property or tenancy can be bought up
Any maintenance issues can be brought up during this virtual inspection, as the landlord will be seeing the property. Keep in mind that some non-urgent issues may not be able to be fixed during Level 3.
Agreeing on which video service to use for virtual inspections is an important first step; both parties need to be comfortable with using the technology. Secondly, make sure you are aware of the security issues that some of these have. If you're going to be videoing inside your home, you need to do your research on the privacy of the tech you are using.
Can I show my property to prospective tenants at level 3?
Under alert Level 3 private viewings by appointment can now take place. This will be a relief for tenants who were hoping to move to more suitable housing. Additionally, landlords with empty rental properties will have some more certainty around letting properties and being able to pay their mortgages.
In summary, not a lot will change for landlords and tenants at Alert Level 3 aside from slightly relaxed regulations around inspections. We will update this article with the current advice if anything changes.
Last updated: 12pm Thursday 23 April
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