We know times are tough financially for many individuals and small businesses around Australia.
That’s why we have put together a dedicated COVID-19 support page, to provide you with some information about managing your loans and your finances during this time.
Frequently asked questions
As the global spread of coronavirus creates uncertainty around the globe, here at Smartline, we are still open for business and we are ready to help and support you with all your lending needs.
What kind of financial assistance is available from my lender?
Your lender will determine what kind of financial assistance you may be able to access depending on your personal situation. Financial assistance varies from lender to lender and may also change over time. However, it may include things such as waiving fees, interest rate freezes, lower rates on business loans, deferrals of loan repayments, loan restructures and access to additional credit. A list of lender contact details can be found here.
Can I still take out a new loan if I am social distancing or in quarantine?
Yes. The health and wellbeing of our clients is paramount, so we have taken steps to make sure we can continue to provide a high level of service to our clients. You can now arrange a new loan or a refinance via video conference call in place of face-to-face meetings.
What if I lose my income and I can’t make repayments on my mortgage?
Many Australians will find their income is affected by the spread of COVID-19. Rest assured that lenders are offering financial assistance to borrowers who are facing significant financial hardship as a result of the virus. If your income is at risk, and you are worried about making repayments on your mortgage, you need to contact your lender as soon as possible to discuss your situation. A list of lender contact details can be found here.
If you go into arrears on your mortgage without applying for financial hardship through your lender, it could affect your credit rating. This could make it more difficult for you to apply for financial assistance later on, and could even affect your ability to get a loan in the future. Your credit rating won’t be affected if you are granted a loan deferral due to financial hardship from COVID-19.
What if I can’t make repayments on my investment loan?
The ban on evictions means that if you own an investment property, you may be facing decreased or even no rental income for up to six months. Lenders aren’t yet offering financial assistance for property investors who can’t make repayments on their investment loan due to COVID-19.*
So, what can you do?
Start by ensuring your tenant’s non-payment is due to COVID-19 financial distress. If it isn’t, they are bound by normal rental procedures. If it is, however, your first port of call should be your landlord’s insurance. If you are covered in a pandemic, you may be able to recover lost rental income.
Otherwise, negotiate with your tenant to see if they can at least pay a reduced rate which should help your cash flow. Remember, they will still need to pay back what they owe you down the track. You could consider getting an income tax variation in place now to boost your cash flow until then. You may also be able to request a mortgage holiday on your own home and this may help you cover your investment loan repayments.
The Federal Government is currently considering tax concessions for landlords in this situation, and potentially other measures as well, so watch this space.
Correct as at 21/4/20
What assistance is currently available from the government?
- The Federal Government has pledged two stimulus payments of $750 to Australians receiving Newstart, the Family Tax Benefit or the pension, as well as veterans and those with concession cards. The first payment is due in April, and the second is set for July.
- If you have lost your job as a result of COVID-19, you may be eligible for the JobKeeper payment of $1500 per fortnight. Contact your employer to determine if you are eligible.
- Sole traders and self-employed tradespeople whose work has been affected and who meet the income test may also be eligible for JobKeeper payments.
- If you can’t access JobKeeper payments, you can apply for the JobSeeker payment ($565.70 per fortnight). This is an allowance for those who do not have enough work. You may also be eligible for the Coronavirus Supplement payment of $550.
- You may be able to access up to $10,000 of your superannuation between April 20 and July 2020, and a further $10,000 between 1 July and 24 September.
Correct as at 21/4/20
How can I stay on top of the latest policies regarding COVID-19?
Don’t forget that this is an evolving situation and policies are constantly changing. We suggest you keep a close eye on the government policy updates.
The federal government’s MoneySmart website has some invaluable information about what to do and who to contact if you need financial help during this time.
What can I do to maximise my financial health?
There are a number of things you can do to maximise your finances during this period.
- Don’t make any rash decisions out of panic. There’s no need to stockpile food or sell all your shares. Here’s a few tips on what to do first to protect your finances.
- Talk to one of our mortgage advisers about your loan to ensure you are on a competitive interest rate and have the most appropriate loan for your current situation. You may want to consider refinancing your loan if you can’t get a good deal with your current lender.
- If you have some spare time during lockdown, it could be a great time to get your finances in order.
Can I still buy and sell property during COVID-19?
Yes. Private inspections are still permitted and the industry has adapted so that you can now also do virtual inspections and some properties are selling at online auctions. Private sales are of course still occurring.
What is the outlook for residential property?
It’s still unclear how the property market will respond to the COVID-19 situation throughout 2020.
Uncertainty caused residential property listings and sales to start to fall in March 2020 as the impacts of the virus began to take hold in Australia.
However government stimuli and underlying demand for property mean that the market has the potential to rebound strongly once risks of the virus start to fade.
Analysis of property rebounds following previous economic downturns can provide some perspective during this unpredictable time.
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