There is an air of great unease across Australia, with Coronavirus (COVID-19) officially declared a Pandemic. With this, we understand that you and your Owners Corporation clients may have a number of questions regarding Coronavirus and insurance.
This article clarifies key concerns and provides information regarding risk management strategies to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. We encourage implementation of these strategies throughout your workplace and strata properties where relevant.
Will the Owners Corporation be held liable if someone is found to have contracted COVID-19 at a common property area on the premises?
If the Owners Corporation have taken the appropriate risk management steps to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus, then they are unlikely to be held liable in this instance. An integral part of adequate risk management includes routine and thorough cleaning of common property areas, from door handles and lift buttons, to gym equipment and pools. For more information on cleaning and disinfecting, please refer to the Department of Health. Social distancing is another crucial aspect of risk mitigation, which involves minimising contact between yourself and other people. For more information on social distancing, please click here.
Should common property areas such as pools and gyms be closed?
The government has introduced containment measures for social distancing as well as for non-essential services, including pools and gyms. Owners Corporations should follow and implement restrictions and closures of these non-essential facilities as per Australian Government guidelines. Click here for live updates and essential information in regards to this matter.
Are owners at an OC property covered for loss of rent, if the tenant is unable to pay their rent due to COVID-19 related loss of income?
No – landlords are not covered by insurance for loss of rent in this instance. However, should this situation arise, Consumer Affairs Victoria are encouraging landlords and agents to work with and be compassionate towards tenants who are financially affected by the pandemic. This will help achieve the best possible outcome for all parties involved.
Tenants who find they are suddenly unable to make rental payments due to COVID-19 related income loss, should notify their landlord or agent immediately. Alternative arrangements may allow tenants to stay at the property (and for landlords to receive their rental income), if they are permitted to repay rental arrears over a reasonable period of time. For more information please visit the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.
If owners choose to subsidise rent for their tenant, is the balance of unpaid rent covered by insurance?
If an owner chooses to subsidise rent for their tenant, the balance is not likely to be paid or covered by insurance.
Are owner occupiers covered for temporary accommodation in the event the strata property is evacuated due to a COVID-19 incident or outbreak?
Owner occupiers are covered for temporary accommodation in the event the OC is evacuated by the police or a health authority due to a COVID-19 incident or outbreak. Most insurers allow and cover immediate temporary accommodation once the relevant authority declares an evacuation. This cover will seize once it is deemed safe for residents to re-enter the building, and is for a maximum of 30 days.
Are tenants and landlords covered for temporary accommodation in the event the strata property is evacuated due to a COVID-19 incident or outbreak?
Tenants are not covered for temporary accommodation in this instance. When a tenant is evacuated, the only cover available is for the landlord. The landlord can be paid for Loss of Rent for the period of time the tenant is not residing in the building and hence not paying rent.
Are Owners Corporation Annual General Meetings allowed to proceed?
Owners Corporations must observe social distancing measures in this instance, and at any other general meetings. Committee members can attend meetings by teleconferencing or by proxy. Larger owner’s corporations in particular should consider conducting meetings via teleconferencing only. To comply with social distancing regulations, it is essential that the venue for any meetings held is large enough to comfortably allow a 1.5 meter distance between each person. For more information on this matter please click here.
Risk Management Strategies
The WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends the following:
- Practice social distancing – click here to view the Social Distancing Guide developed by the Australian Department of Health
- Make sure your workplace is clean and hygenic
- Wipe surfaces with disinfectant regularly
- examples include: keyboards, telephones, desk, equipment, door handles, lift buttons etc.
- Promote regular and thorough hand washing by employees, contractors and customers
- make soap, and sanitiser readily available
- Include signage to remind people in the workplace to wash their hands
- Educate people on what good hygiene means – signs, emails
- Promote good respiratory hygiene
- Ensure tissues are available for those who have a runny nose or cough, along with closed bins for safe disposal of tissues
- Consult national travel advice on Smartraveller before business trips – is it absolutely necessary?
- Stay home – Inform employees, contractors and customers that if Coronavirus starts spreading in your community, to stay home and self-isolate. Even if it is a mild cough or low-grade fever.
- Develop a crisis plan of what to do when someone becomes ill with a suspected case of COVD-19 at your workplace
The WHO has extensive information on managing risk in the workplace – click here to view key recommendations. It is also important to stay up-to-date with Australian Government information: www.health.gov.au.
Should you have any questions regarding the information provided in this factsheet, please contact your Resolute broker.
T 1300 668 033 E email@example.com
This insight article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of personal advice. Please contact Resolute Property Protect ABN 53 157 850 827 Licence Number: 425 966 for further information, or refer to our website.