PropertyNerd News is back! The Corona Virus pandemic is having a massive effect on the real estate industry so we are back to help!
There are new laws and directions in place all over Australia that limit property inspections and auctions. And of course, the effect on the property market is going to be huge.
So for the benefit of the entire Australian real estate industry, we
present this brief summary (see footnotes for the actual legal instruments).
First, there are now severe limits on property inspections. In NSW, the Minister for Health has ordered that open for inspections are prohibited, except for “single parties” who have made a prior appointment. The order expires on 23 June 2020 but obviously that may be revised. We interpret “single party” to mean an individual, couple or other small group who may be buying a property jointly, however the order doesn’t explicitly say that.
In Victoria, open house inspections between 27 March 2020 and 13 April 2020 inclusive are also prohibited, except by private appointment.
In Queensland, inspections are also only allowed by private appointment. The Queensland ban lasts from 25 March 2020 until the end of the public health emergency, which is currently listed as 19 May 2020. 
In South Australia, the Chief Commissioner of Police, in typically heavy-handed police fashion, has directed anyone who “owns, controls or operates defined premises” to close the premises to prohibit access to consumers and members of the public. The SA definition of “defined premises” includes premises at which a real estate auction or inspection is carried out. So, bad luck if you’re an agent, vendor or buyer in SA, the Police Commissioner has effectively shut down the entire industry! (Time to revolt, surely?)
In WA, a state of emergency has been declared but as yet there are no specific real estate restrictions that we have been able to identify. Please tell us if we are wrong about that!
In Tasmania, as of 27 March 2020, inspections are limited to no more than 3 persons per inspection. 
Now for auctions. In short, public auctions have been banned. In NSW, the ban is for auctions at which people attend in person and is for “the relevant period”. This means from 26 March until 23 June 2020. Of course, by then the direction will either have been revoked, extended or replaced.
In Victoria, agents are prohibited from organising auctions for residential property from 27 March to 13 April 2020 but there is an exception if the auction takes place remotely.
In Queensland, all real estate auctions are prohibited - no exception has been made for commercial auctions or auctions carried out remotely.  The industry should lobby the Queensland government for this anomaly to be removed.
As stated above, all real estate auctions in SA have been banned without apparent limit.
Auctions in Tasmania are banned unless conducted remotely.
We didn’t have time to cover the Territories, sorry!
If you want to keep up with the ongoing legal changes caused by the pandemic the best place to go is https://thecovid19.law.blog/, a specialised blog by NSW barrister Dominic Villa SC.
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