Latest News

Government extends support to stop business evictions in 2020

17 September 2020

Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, announced yesterday, 16 September, that all commercial tenants will be protected from the risk of eviction until the end of this year. Read More...

High Court rules in favour of agents over Business Interruption Insurance

15 September 2020

Thousands of companies disputing their insurers' interpretations of liability under Business Interruption Insurance welcome the court ruling today, 15 September, where it found in favour of the arguments advanced for policyholders on the majority of issues brought by the Financial Complaints Authority (FCA) test case. Read More...

New guide helps agents stay on the right side of competition law

15 September 2020

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), together with the Institute of Risk Management, has published a new edition of its short guide on competition law risk that will help agents to identify and reduce competition law risks. Read More...

More must be done to get empty homes back into use

14 September 2020

In a letter to Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP, Minister of State for Housing, Propertymark campaigns for action on empty homes, asking what measures the UK Government is taking to improve the situation and get more empty homes back into use. Read More...

Propertymark supports Gas Safety Week 2020

14 September 2020

Propertymark has pledged its support for Gas Safety Week, which takes place 14 -20 September 2020, and we will be raising awareness about the importance of gas safety to its members and the public. Read More...

Staying safe whilst lifting lockdown

Tuesday 04 August 2020

COVID-19 is a powerful disruptor, responsible for the delay of almost 450,000 property transactions. It goes without saying that everyone has to take action in order to minimise the ongoing impact.

Carefully adhering to public health guidance, as we enter a ‘new normal’ agents need to make sure their workplaces are COVID-secure, and have a protocol in place should a member of staff become infected with the virus.

Safe re-opening of housing markets

On 13 May, the Government re-opened the English housing market for business; once more enabling people, for the first time since mid-March, to move house and rent property.

The following month, on 29 June, the UK Government eased restrictions on the housing market; with most recent changes in Wales last week announcing that physically distanced unoccupied property viewings are permitted once more.

Official guidance on reopening high-street businesses that provide an on-site service has been published by the Government.

Virtual property viewings

As there is an increased risk of virus transmission within workplaces in which customers and staff may visit the premises and other work locations, agents are required to offer virtual viewings in the first instance.

Propertymark best practice for appointments

Whilst agents in England could encourage their staff to use the NHS ‘Test and Trace’ app, there has been a lot of confusion surrounding the app itself; also it is sadly limited for use only by those registered with a GP in England.

Adopting a more universal approach to ‘test and trace’ across the UK, Propertymark Best Practice advises agents to keep detailed viewing audits and employee shift records, to enable employers to accurately record staff appointments.

Employers could then access this data to track and trace the properties staff have visited, and the people whom they have had contact with. Using this data, employers could isolate locations and individuals that staff have visited.

Gaining customer and vendor permission, names, addresses, and contact numbers should form these detailed records, which should be a clear diarised audit to follow, should a member of staff begin to present COVID-19 symptoms.

While pubs and restaurants are trying to rapidly understand the implications for data protection, estate and letting agents should already have applicable safeguards in place to ensure there are no breaches of GDPR.

The provision of upfront information for appointments and the property sale process is essential under normal circumstances, however, it is now more vital than ever that this information is collated and stored, for both security, and health and safety purposes throughout this pandemic.

Being responsible

In the event you or a staff member you work closely with tests positive for Coronavirus, official Government guidance states that self-isolation for 14 days is mandatory, as is following guidance carefully on safe social distancing and handwashing. If the test returns as negative, self-isolation for 14 days is still required.

If staff show symptoms of contracting the virus, there is specific guidance to follow on how to clean following their departure from the workplace. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must be worn to clean the workplace, and hands must be washed with soap and water for 20 seconds once all PPE has been carefully removed.

Social distancing and PPE

Agents offering physical viewings will need to confirm with vendors in writing that they have appropriate PPE. Physical viewings should be limited to members of the same household, and open house viewings should not take place.

As of Friday 24 July, facemasks were ruled mandatory for the public, upon entering retail premises. Propertymark can confirm, that in line with their best practice guidance, it is not necessary for agents' staff to wear a face-covering whilst in the office with the same group of people and social distancing, except when dealing with visitors.

Propertymark's views

Public health and Government guidance should always come first. In all instances, it is important to adhere to social distancing measures and any physical appointments should be postponed immediately if anyone is self-isolating or showing symptoms of Coronavirus.

As local lockdowns are still occurring over the UK, most recently in Leicester, and Northern England, guidance may change from week to week depending on which areas and premises are restricted from re-opening.

To keep up to date, view area official guidance regularly, regarding when and how to return to work safely.