May 31, 2020
How to avoid the most common insurance trap facing many landlords
Many South Australian landlords assume that landlord insurance will cover them if their tenant has stopped paying rent.
This mentality is hurting a lot of landlords as they try to navigate the uncharted waters of COVID-19.
Landlord insurance will only cover you if the correct processes have been followed.
We often hear comments like, "My tenant isn’t paying the rent but I’ll give them a bit more time because I'm too busy to follow it up" and "If my tenant doesn’t pay rent, I'll still get it back through my insurance.”
This is simply not the case.
What many self-managing landlords (those without an agent) don’t realise is they are responsible for mitigating any potential risks with their rental properties. They will not be covered if they have not taken the required steps as outlined in the tenancy legislation.
So, as a landlord, what do I need to do to make sure I'm covered in South Australia?
Step 1: You must send your tenants a Form 2, a document that notifies your tenant of a breach under their rental agreement.
This document must be served to the tenant upon the 15th day of the rental arrears. If you have not met this deadline, you may not be covered.
Step 2: Wait seven full days to allow the tenant to make payment.
If your tenant has still not made payment for the unpaid rental arrears and in order to seek outstanding monies, you are required to submit an application to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT), a third-party organisation responsible for helping to resolve legal issues in tenancy agreements.
SACAT will listen to both parties and then make an order that the tenant must comply with. This order will be a document that your insurer will require to process your claim.
When making a claim through SACAT, landlords (and agents) must provide sufficient evidence, including full records of communication and any other relevant documents, to substantiate the breach. SACAT will then make the final determination once they have finished reviewing the evidence and listened to the claim.
How does this look with COVID-19?
In order to seek rental relief, a tenant must prove financial hardship during this period and all parties must be open to negotiating through this time. If you find yourself at SACAT, they will take both of these into consideration when making an order.
Since the pandemic was announced, there has been a six-month freeze on all rental evictions across South Australia and new legislation has been introduced via the COVID-19 Emergency Response Bill 2020. While this freeze is in place, SACAT can issue orders such as a payment plan to assist in recovering unpaid rent.
1. Loss of rent must be proven to make claims. Make sure you have all of your paperwork ready to go.
2. Be vigilant with the process. Make sure you follow the steps outlined by Consumer Business Services and in the tenancy legislation. For more information you can click here
3. Review your policy. Not all insurers are the same. We suggest calling your insurer to make sure you are covered and for what amount.
For more information, head to our Landlord Advice page or call our Help Hotline on 0448 038 353