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Government guidelines on returning safely to work

Categories: Legislation


The Government has effectively announced the re-opening of all housing market activities in England, subject to stringent social distancing guidelines.

Below, we’ve summarised the guidelines released today (13th May) about re-opening the housing market safely.

To view the full detailed Government guidelines, click here.

A reminder of general recommendations for reducing the risks associated with COVID-19

  • Limit contact with people outside your household
  • Duration and proximity of any contact affects transmission – stay at least 2 metres apart where possible and stay side by side rather than face to face
  • Avoid public transport wherever possible
  • Avoid peak travel times and go directly from work to home and back again
  • Wash hands as often as possible with soap or hand gel if soap/water is not available
  • Don’t open doors with your palm. Use your elbow or another body part instead
  • Eat at home or bring your own food to work
  • Do not shake hands
  • At petrol stations, use a paper towel or disposable gloves
  • Wash hands thoroughly when you return home
  • Always carry a disinfectant hand gel for when you cannot immediately wash your hands
  • Cough or sneeze in disposable tissue then throw it away (sneezing into the crook of your elbow is next best – don’t sneeze into your hands)
  • A face covering is recommended in enclosed public areas
  • Avoid touching your face

 

Specific guidelines for property professionals

 

Estate Agents

Read the Government guidance on safer working in offices

  • You need to inform customers and staff about your updated procedures to keep them informed through the process.
  • Check before any viewing or visit if any party has had COVID-19 or shown symptoms, are shielding or clinically vulnerable or are currently self-isolating. Questions you could ask are:
  • Use an appointment system for visits to offices and conducting viewings.
  • Do not carry out any open house viewings.
  • Encourage clients to view properties virtually in the first instance and then only in person if they have a strong and declared interest.
  • You are allowed to accompany viewings, but must try to keep a minimum of 2 metres apart from others. Where that isn’t possible, e.g. in a small space, consider wearing a face covering.
  • If not accompanying viewings, make sure all parties clearly understand how the viewing should be conducted safely.
  • Do not drive clients to appointments.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water (or hand sanitiser if not available) immediately after entering a property.
  • Make sure surfaces are wiped down and internal doors opened before a viewer enters. Separate towels or paper towels should be used if possible and washed or disposed of safely after use.
  • Try to be as flexible as possible on move dates. Make sure contracts have explicit terms to manage the timing risks in this situation.
  • Work with your clients and other agents to try and agree a new date if someone involved falls ill.
  • Make sure keys are cleaned before handover.

 

Lettings Agents

  • Tenant safety should be number one priority.
  • The guidance only applies to empty properties or properties where tenants are voluntarily vacating. You should continue to try to avoid ending tenancies where the tenant wants to and is able to stay.
  • Don’t do viewings in properties where tenants have COVID-19 symptoms, are self-isolating or are being shielded.
  • Viewings can be conducted in other scenarios based on the criteria set out above for Estate Agents.
  • Repairs and safety checks should be done if possible in the period in between a property being vacated and a new tenant moving in. If that’s not possible, social distancing measures need to be in place.
  • Right to Rent checks can be conducted remotely – a temporary COVID-19 measure.

We’re running another webinar on 20th May with Propertymark’s Mark Hayward. Please come armed to that Q&A with any outstanding questions you have after digesting the guidelines in full.

Join the webinar >

We ran a Q&A webinar with Propertymark’s David Cox to cover the breaking news of agents being allowed back to work. The guidance was published during the webinar, so it was discussed, along with answers to dozens of questions.

Watch the recording >