Thu 14 May 2020
On Wednesday night, the Housing Secretary announced that the housing market can now re-open in England, stating government have "a clear plan that will enable people to move home safely, covering each aspect of the sales and letting process from viewings to removals". Government has since issued guidance with practical advice for both industry and home movers on how to operate safely. The key points state that agents should now do the following:
- Agent offices can now open but we recommend using an appointment system for visits to their offices and when conducting viewings.
- Ask whether any party is showing symptoms or has been asked to self-isolate before going ahead with any viewing, or visits to offices.
- Cease undertaking open house viewings.
- Strongly encourage clients to view properties virtually in the first instance and then only physically inspect properties which they have a strong interest in.
- Seek to maintain a minimum of 2 metres distance from others wherever possible on viewings, and consider wearing a face covering.
- Agents should work with their clients and other agents to broker a new date to move where sales are due to complete and one of the parties falls ill with coronavirus or has to self-isolate.
- Agents should ensure that any keys are appropriately cleaned before handover.
- Necessary repairs, gas, and electrical safety checks should ideally be conducted in the period between a property being vacated and a new tenant moving in. If this isn't possible and visits are needed to an occupied property, this should be done by appointment with measures put in place to ensure physical contact is minimised
To read the guidance in full, please click here.
Whilst we are naturally delighted to be given the opportunity to move closer to 'normal' once again, we are also mindful of taking a phased and measured approach, to ensure the safety of our staff, contractors, clients and customers.
We have therefore taken the decision to continue, at least until the end of May, as follows:
1. Our office will remain closed to visitors - however we’re all still working from home, with phone lines being re-routed to our mobiles. The majority of our systems are also cloud based, so we can access everything from home. We can open the office for essential visits like key collections, we just need a little notice to get there. We have gloves, sanitiser etc to make any handovers safe in accordance with government advice.
2. Our focus remains on virtual activity (for viewings and market valuations) in the first instance with physical viewings only taking place where there is serious intention to rent or buy, and having already seen a video tour that we'd have taken.
3. Move-ins are mostly undertaken digitally now (e-signatures and pdf documents, BACS transfers etc), so this process will remain largely unchanged. New tenants or house purchasers can collect keys at a pre-arranged time, at distance, in our sanitised office.
4. Repairs and maintenance will continue to be handled by our Property Managers. While we have fewer contractors currently working, we will prioritise those cases deemed to be emergencies. For all other maintenance issues, we will liaise with all parties are to ensure they are happy for someone to attend. Contractors will attend wearing the necessary PPE (gloves and mask) and will have anti-bacteria wipes/sprays to hand to ensure they clean down as necessary.
5. The legal position on rents has not changed and they remain as per the terms of the tenancy agreement and will accrue as usual. However for households genuinely experiencing hardship during the pandemic we are urging landlords and tenants to work together by communicating effectively through us, so we can look to find a positive solution.
6. Existing house sales will continue to be worked through to exchange and completion, now that surveyors, conveyancers and removal firms have now been given the green light to 'carry on as normal' by government.
So in essence, our key message here is really that we are very much still open for business, we have just adapted the way we are working - to ensure the safety of our staff and clients.
If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to contact us, either by phone on 01480 218200, email at email@example.com, or by one of the numerous social media channels (facebook, instagram, twitter, linkedin).
Managing Director, Lovett Sales & Lettings
"Service was outstanding and David always very helpful. We would not use anyone else."