Significant protections are currently still in place for tenants who have reason to be worried about inspections of their property during Covid-19. The virus has not gone away and neither have genuine concerns. In Victoria, tenants can decline to permit access to agents and buyers. This can be challenged at VCAT and there have to be genuine reasons for concern. But protections are available.
On the flip side, other changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, due to take effect from 1st July, have been deferred until next year. This has brought some relief to both owners and agents who were trying to come to terms with significant changes, in the midst of huge disruption already washing through the industry.
For buyers and sellers, the current state of play is that up to 20 people can attend an open inspection (not that we think this is a particularly good idea). A real concern is the possibly unintended consequence of the ban on evicting tenants during Covid-19, or at least until September 2020. This was primarily meant to protect tenants suffering financial hardship. Normally, when a property is sold with a tenant in place, providing the lease term has finished, the owner can give 60 days’ notice to vacate, so that vacant possession can be provided to a buyer. Because of the eviction ban, the normal 60 days’ notice can’t be enforced without a VCAT order. So, a sale can’t be made with any guarantee of vacant possession.
Due to the success of the various strategies implemented by our governments, one of the first groups to come out of the “hibernation” appears to be buyers. Certainly quicker than sellers. As a result, the slide in prices is looking more and more likely to being on the lower end of projections. Whilst we have thought this to be the likely outcome for some time now, there is still unlikely to be a rapid recovery. And prices will probably soften a little bit more first.