Flood ResourcesINDUSTRY NEWSNEWSNSWQLD

REIQ and REINSW outline resources for agents and PMs in flood-affected areas

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland is calling on agents and property managers to familiarise themselves with the resources available as the flood clean-up in Queensland continues.

In a Facebook Live on Tuesday, REIQ Chief Executive Officer Antonia Mercorella noted at a time like the present, it was critical the industry had access to accurate advice, with the REIQ Disaster Toolkit and the property management support service among the resources at the industry’s disposal.

“It’s really great to see the way that the property management community comes together at a time like this, trying to help one another,” Ms Mercorella said.

“But what we are seeing on Facebook and on various social media platforms is that there is some incorrect advice and guidance that’s being given out there, which is concerning at a time like this.”

Ms Mercorella noted the Disaster Toolkit was freely available and could be downloaded on the REIQ website, while the property management support service on 1300 MYREIQ was currently assisting both REIQ members and non-members.

Ms Mercorella also explained the REIQ was slated to meet with the Queensland Minister for Communities and Housing, Leeanne Enoch and other stakeholders on Wednesday.

“We’re really hopeful that we’ll have some good solutions and some additional support,” she said.

Ms Mercorella had previously indicated that conversation would focus on emergency housing and alternative solutions in the wake of Queensland’s already tight rental conditions.

“What we want to see is really good planning around this,” Ms Mercorella said in a further Facebook Live on Sunday.

“We don’t want to see knee jerk reactions and poor decisions made that only potentially exacerbate matters.”

Among the potential solutions the REIQ is discussing with the government is a possible incentive for owners of Airbnb properties.

“If you go and do a search on Airbnb…there are 281 vacant Airbnb properties in Queensland in Brisbane today, as we speak.

“It’d be great to see the government doing more to incentivise the owners of those properties to put those on to the long-term rental market or at a minimum, to prioritise any tenants that may just be displaced during this time.”

The outcome of today’s talks are yet to be made publicly available, however Ms Mercorella said she hoped to have good news for the industry in the days to come.

Meanwhile, the REIQ is also calling on the public to be patient with property managers as they work to assess the scale of property damage.

“The REIQ is keenly aware of the added pressure to housing, the distress being experienced by displaced tenants and by property owners with flood-impacted properties, and the scale of what property managers are currently facing as the conduit between the tenants and owners,” Ms Mercorella said.

She noted many properties would be rendered unfit to live in and in some cases, require termination of the lease agreement on the grounds of non-livability and, for others, temporary relocation, both adding to the strain on housing.

“The timing of this major flood event couldn’t be worse – It will displace tenants and owner-occupiers and diminish levels of rental stock at a time when we are experiencing incredibly tight vacancy rates across all corners of the state,” Ms Mercorella said.

“We also know that tradespeople and building supplies are rare as hen’s teeth in the current market, with a pre-existing backlog of inquiries for various standard renovations, repairs and building works – meaning flood affected property job inquiries could be joining the back of an already long waitlist.

“These wait times could mean it’s some time before we see properties repaired or ready to re-join the rental pool.

“This will only exacerbate the rental crisis which means an enormous amount of stress on tenants and on property managers who were already under strain over the past two years due to COVID-19 impacts and undersupply issues.”

Ms Mercorella addressed the extraordinary strain being placed on property managers and called on the community to be mindful of the ongoing demands on the property management sector.

“We ask that both property owners and tenants be mindful of the heightened demand on property managers during natural disaster events and understand that response and processing times are likely to be delayed and prioritised based on needs and emergency situations,” she said.

“Property management is a mammoth job and while there may appear to be quick fix solutions to damages, it’s important to consider the scale of inquiry your property manager may be processing.

“Unfortunately, in a widespread natural disaster such as this, there is no standard communication protocol or response time from property managers given each agency is in a unique position in terms of staff resourcing, size of their rent roll, the number of affected properties they’re managing, and in some cases whether their offices or personal residences have been impacted too.

“It is also quite difficult to assess the extent of the damage while the situation is still unfolding for many, so what we ask for is patience and understanding from all parties in a tenancy.”

The REIQ Disaster Toolkit – The REIQ’s comprehensive Disaster Toolkit covers common sales and property management questions and issues in the advent of a natural disaster.

Where to direct tenants in hardship

The REIQ has also put together a list of places that property managers can refer flood-affected tenants to. These include:

Australian Government Disaster Payment – Tenants may be eligible for the Australian Government Disaster Payment, where affected individuals can claim $1000 per adult and $400 per child via the Services Australia website or by calling 180 22 66 if people don’t have access to the internet or a computer.

Australian Government Disaster Recovery Allowance – The Disaster Recovery Allowance (DRA) is a short-term payment to help people if a disaster directly affects their income, available for a maximum of 13 weeks.

More information is here or by calling 180 22 66 if people don’t have access to the internet or a computer.

Joint Queensland/Commonwealth Emergency Hardship Assistance grants – Emergency Hardship Assistance grants help cover the costs of essential items, such as food, medication and clothing.

Grants of up to $180 are available per person and $900 for a family of five or more. More information is available here or by calling the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349 to get information or apply for the grants and access to support services over the phone.

Joint Queensland/Commonwealth Essential household contents grant – Tenants may be eligible for financial assistance to provide a contribution towards replacing or repairing essential household contents, such as beds, linen and whitegoods, that have been lost or damaged in a disaster.

Grants of up to $1765 for single adults and up to $5300 for couples/families. More information is here or by calling the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349 to get information or apply for the grants and access to support services over the phone.

Tenants needing temporary accommodation – Tenants who need accommodation support should call 13 74 68 or go to the Queensland Government housing website.

Northern NSW

Across the border in NSW, the Real Estate Institute of NSW has also made help available to both members and non-members.

Speaking on Facebook on Wednesday, REINSW Chief Executive Officer Tim McKibbin said his thoughts were with those affected in northern NSW, with the REINSW opening its helpline to non-members in a bid to support the industry as a whole.

“If you are an agent and you are not a member but you need help right now to be able help your clients and yourself through these troubles, we will do what we can to assist you,” he said.

“We will be there for members and non-members and we will get through this particular challenge as we have in the past.”

REINSW also noted financial support has been announced by the State Government for the local government areas of Ballina, Bellingen, Byron, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Tweed.

NSW residents affected by the severe weather and storms may be eligible for a disaster relief grant and a list of local government areas where disaster declarations have been made is available at natural disaster declarations.

Affected residents may also call 13 77 88 and ask about the disaster relief grant administered by Resilience NSW.

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Cassandra Charlesworth

Cassandra Charlesworth is a features writer for Elite Agent Magazine with over 15 years’ journalism experience in metropolitan and regional newsrooms. She has a specialist interest in real estate, tech disruption and a good old-fashioned “yarn”.