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Government issues practical guidance for agents during the Coronavirus outbreak

13th May 2020

Following the Housing Secretary’s announcement that the housing market can reopen in England, Government has now issued guidance with practical advice for both industry and home movers on how to operate safely.

Read the guidance in full: ‘Government advice on home moving during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’

The document explains you can open for business but should consider how and when to reopen your premises. All businesses should follow the government’s latest guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus and safer working guidance. It is important that you inform customers and staff on your procedures, so that they remain safe.

Key points from the Government guidance

  • Agents should ask whether any party is showing symptoms or has been asked to self-isolate before going ahead with any viewing, or visits to offices.
  • Agents should operate using an appointment system for visits to their offices and when conducting viewings.
  • Agents should not carry out any open house viewings.
  • Agents should strongly encourage clients to view properties virtually in the first instance and then only physically inspect properties which they have a strong interest in.
  • Agents can accompany physical viewings and seek to maintain a minimum of 2 metres distance from others wherever possible. Where social distancing is not possible and the visit is within an enclosed space, they should consider wearing a face covering in line with government guidance.
  • Where they do not accompany the visit, they should make sure that both buyers and sellers clearly understand how the viewing should be conducted safely.
  • Agents should not drive clients to appointments.
  • All parties viewing a property should wash their hands with soap and water (or hand sanitiser if not available) immediately after entering the properties, with internal doors opened and surfaces having been wiped down before they enter. Separate towels or paper towels should be used if possible and washed or disposed of safely after use.
  • Agents should do what they can to promote flexibility when arranging move dates, for example advising clients to ensure contracts have explicit terms to manage the timing risks presented by coronavirus.
  • 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.

We are assessing the guidance and will provide you with further advice and content to help you in the coming days.

Responding to the news that the Private Rented Sector can re-open, Isobel Thomson, safeagent Chief Executive, said:

“The news that agents can re-open brings a sigh of relief from our industry. Many consumers who wanted to move have been stuck in limbo, and we know as long as they can work safely, agents are keen to get back to work. However, this is not a return to business as usual, it is for now a new normal and requires agents to adapt processes to ensure that Government Covid-19 guidelines are followed keeping themselves, their staff and tenants safe at this time. 

“safeagent is pleased to see the updated guidance on home moves in which there is a lot to absorb – we’ll will be supporting our agents in the coming weeks to ensure that they remain compliant.”

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