The situation with the coronavirus continues to unfold, and the government advice is changing daily. This article deals with things that we already know.
Tickets and refunds
Many public events have been cancelled. If you hold tickets for public events, contact the point of purchase, or wait to be contacted by them. In most cases, if events do not go ahead, you are entitled to a full refund. In the event of doubt, check the terms and conditions attached to your booking.
If you have paid in advance for kids swimming or dancing lessons, contact the provider to see what options they are providing. In most instances, where classes are not going ahead, you should receive a refund.
If you have paid deposits for events such as weddings, in most cases you should be able to shift a deposit to a future date. Check the terms and conditions with each provider.
If you have a membership for an organisation that may be affected, contact the organisation to make inquiries about what rights you have. Most gyms allow you to suspend your membership for a period of time.
If you have an AFL membership, stand by for further announcements from the AFL. I’ll be watching my mighty Hawks from the comfort of my loungeroom until further notice, but won’t be seeking a refund on my membership, in the interests of supporting the Club.
Buying a house
While there has been a slight drop in clearance rates, there need be no impact on buying or selling a house, except for where auctions expect large numbers. At the moment, gatherings are banned indoors for over 100 people, and 500 for outdoor gatherings. Provided auctions continue to be held outdoors, there should be no concerns.
If you already have pre-approval from the bank, you should be right to proceed. If you do not have pre-approval, contact your bank or broker to see if any further delays apply to approval processes.
If you have already bought a house and settlement is imminent, ensure that you have put adequate arrangements in place, regarding sourcing removalists and shifting utility providers. The current pandemic will not be an excuse for being unable to settle on settlement day.
If you are in a situation where default is likely, it is best to have your lawyer or conveyancer negotiate an extension in advance, before you default, to avoid any default costs.
Building a house
If you are building a house, it is unlikely you will be able to delay or postpone the build under the contract. Review the contract, but if it is a standard contract, it is unlikely to have exclusions for “force majeure” or pandemics. If in doubt, have a lawyer review the contract for you. There is always the choice to negotiate directly with the builder, ensuring that all communications are carefully crafted or drafted.
The advice from government is changing daily, so the best advice is to check with your holiday suppliers, whether it be a travel agent, airline or hotel provider. In many cases, the usual booking terms are being overridden by goodwill offerings from airlines and hotel providers, willing to offer flexibility on previously “non-refundable” bookings or deposits. If you are travelling overseas, consult the Smartraveller website for country specific advice.
Despite the pandemic declaration last week, which will render most insurance policies ineffective, some insurance policies do have a “cancellation for any reason” clause. Check whether you have such cover, as you normally need to pay extra for it.
Do not engage in panic buying or stockpiling. Just don’t do it.