Stage 4 Restrictions: top 11 questions for property and real estate
Following the Victorian government’s announcement of Stage 4 restrictions on Sunday, it’s safe to say Melburnians have a few questions about what they can and can’t do when it comes to property and real estate.
Under the new rules to stop the spread of COVID-19, Melbourne residents are banned from travelling further than 5km from their homes for at least the next six weeks, and they can only leave their homes for necessary shopping, care giving or seeking care, exercise (one hour per day) and essential work.
Some details concerning real estate are still being ironed out between industry and government but here’s what we know so far:
1. Can I move house during stage 4 lockdown?
Yes. Premier Daniel Andrews covered this in his Monday press conference saying, “I don’t want to see people who are supposed to move from one place to another because the lease has run out unable to do so.”
However, with a Melbourne-wide curfew now in place from 8pm until 5am the move will have to take place during the allowable timeframe and movers will be required to wear a face-covering, as are all Victorians when outside their homes.
Metro Melbourne is facing confusion around the new stage four restrictions. Picture: Getty
2. Can I move house outside of the 5km radius?
Yes. Metro Melbourne residents moving to a home outside the 5km radius of their current primary residence with an existing contract or arrangement in place, can do so provided there is an agreement in place.
3. Are house inspections and open homes still available for tenants?
The short answer is yes, but these will move to online only with all in-person inspections now banned in metropolitan Melbourne, according to a statement from Premier Daniel Andrews late Monday. However, the industry continues to seek clarification on this issue and a raft of others.
4. I am now out of work. What rent relief is available to me?
The federal government introduced financial supports in the form of JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments in March, which have gone some way in helping out-of-work tenants stay in their homes, however, there is further support available.
We’ve compiled a complete list of six government support payments tenants can access during COVID-19 here.
Consumer Affairs Victoria also suggests that tenants experiencing difficulty should get in touch with the Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program for more advice.
5. Can I sell a house during Stage 4 lockdown?
The Victorian government announced that the real estate industry was one of the business sectors that must close during the six-week Stage 4 measures, however, a government representative has confirmed that “online inspections and auctions are permitted”.
6. Is my real estate agent still available for contact in case of emergency?
Yes, provided they’re working from home you’ll still be able to contact your real estate agent remotely if you need to ask a question.
7. I am in the process of building my house. Can new home builds and construction continue?
Yes, construction can continue during Stage 4 lockdown but sites will be required to keep the number of attending tradespeople to five.
On larger projects above three levels, the workforce will need to be reduced to 25% of its original capacity.
8. Can I still visit my new house under renovation?
Under the new restrictions, this activity fails to fall within the four reasons to leave home.
Melbourne residents are not permitted to “go for a drive” according to the DHHS website.
9. Can I get a tradie to visit my house?
Yes, tradies can still visit homes but this has now been restricted to emergency support situations only.
“There’ll be no cleaners going to your house. There’ll be no one mowing your lawns,” Premier Andrews said. “It’s not the time to be painting your house or having unnecessary, non-urgent work happen.”
10. What does “pilot light phase” in the residential building industry mean?
This phrase means that while construction hasn’t stopped completely, it is now operating at a far reduced capacity. The state government has placed strict limits on the kinds of jobs that tradies can do – from restricting callouts to emergency situations only to limiting the number of trades that can attend a site to just five.
Tradespeople will be restricted as to which jobs they can attend under Stage 4 restrictions. Picture: Getty
“This will allow the industry to keep ticking – while also making sure we limit the number of people onsite,” Premier Andrews said on Monday.
“To date, we’ve halved the number of people onsite on some of our biggest government projects. Now we’re going through project-by-project, line-by-line to make sure they are reduced to the practical minimum number of workers.
“These workplaces that are continuing to operate will have additional requirements including extra PPE, staggering shifts, staggering breaks, health declarations and more support for sick workers to ensure they stay home.”
11. How do I come up with a COVID safe plan for my construction site?
Under Stage 4 restrictions, some small businesses that are still able to stay open are now required by law to come up with a COVID Safe Plan.
Within the construction industry, depending on the scale of the site you’ll be required to implement either a High Risk COVID-19 safe plan (large-scale projects above three storeys excluding a basement) or a Universal COVID-19 safe plan (projects smaller than three levels).
You must also adhere to the following:
Must demonstrate not blending shifts;
Tradies will now only be allowed to attend one site at a time, rather than working across multiple jobs as many currently do now and;
Workers will be required to give their details to enable contact tracing to occur.