How landlords, estate agents and developers can get ready for viewings, view properties and reopen offices.
Moving home: advice to industry
All businesses should follow the government’s latest workplace guidance for employers and employees: COVID-19 on how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic and the guidance on how to maintain physical distancing in the workplace.
It is important that all businesses work together to ensure we Test, Trace, Protect to minimise the spread of infection and we expect all sectors to consider how they can operate in a way which minimises the need for face to face contact, and where that can’t be avoided, adopt procedures that ensure social distancing.
As well as government guidance, we encourage all professionals to speak to their representative bodies and familiarise themselves with the guidance that these bodies have prepared for their specific sectors.
This guidance provides advice for:
- estate agents
- developers and newbuild sales offices
- letting agents and private landlords
- social landlords
Tradespeople, conveyancers, new build home warranty assessors, surveyors, EPC assessors and removals companies may also find the information in these sections useful.
You should familiarise yourselves with the guidance on moving home during the coronavirus pandemic and adapt your processes and procedures accordingly.
Offices and premises
Estate agents, new build sales offices, letting agents and landlord premises can open for business but should consider how and when to reopen their premises in order to comply with the requirements to maintain social distancing in the workplace. Regard should also be had to the work place guidance for employers and employees.
If staff are able to efficiently and safely work from home, they should continue to do so. In all elements of your business’ operation, you will need to consider what parts can be undertaken virtually wherever possible.
Health and Safety measures should be put in place in line with the government’s latest workplace guidance for employers and employees on how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic and the guidance on how to maintain physical distancing in the workplace.
You should pay particular reference to the requirement for physical distancing:
The Coronavirus Regulations impose a legal requirement on workplaces to take all reasonable measures to ensure a 2 metre distance is maintained between persons on their premises. Guidance has been produced to assist people in understanding what “taking all reasonable measures” means and what to do if it is not possible to maintain a distance of 2 metres in certain circumstances. Failing to comply with the physical distancing duty in Wales without reasonable excuse is an offence, which on conviction may lead to a fine.
Visitors to all offices
- discourage visitors from attending the office unless it is absolutely necessary
- ensure all visitors to the office are by appointment only
- keep a record of all visitors for Covid-19 tracing purposes
- put procedures in place to minimise person-to-person contact for any deliveries to the office
Additional information for new build sales offices
- only one appointment at a time should be booked to ensure social distancing is maintained within the sales complex
- customers should be informed in advance of arrival on site of the measures in place that they must abide by
- builders need to ensure parking is available that enables safe distancing rules to be adhered to
- customers should be advised to only arrive a few minutes before their appointment and to wait in their car until the time of their appointment
- builders should endeavour to send all information about the development to customers digitally
- builders should also develop processes for customers that do not have the facility to accept and view documents digitally
- consideration will need to be given to the taking of reservation payments, to include payments by phone
Preparing properties for viewings by the public
Professional photographs and videos, valuations, inspections, and floorplans can be carried out for the purposes of property rentals and sales, but should be done so safely, in line with the workplace guidance for employers and employees and the physical distancing in the workplace guidance.
Facilitating property viewings for the public
- all property viewings should take place virtually in the first instance
- where a physical viewing of a vacant property (which has been vacated for 72 hours or deep cleaned) is required, this should be by appointment only and be attended by people from the same household
- no speculative viewings should take place
- open house viewings are not permissible
- no-one should be part of a property viewing if they are shielding, or if they are or have been displaying coronavirus symptoms in the last 14 days
- estate and letting agents should follow the workplace guidance for employers and employees. Marketing of unoccupied properties can take place (in line with relevant rules)
- marketing of occupied properties can commence using virtual viewings only. Valuations etc should be carried out in line with Keep Wales Safe – at work in other people’s homes guidance
- agents can accompany viewings and should comply with the social distancing requirements throughout the viewing
- where viewings are unaccompanied, agents should make sure viewers understand how they should conduct themselves
- agents or landlords should not drive current or prospective tenants and prospective owners to the property viewing. The agent or landlord should make sure that all lights are on in the property and that doors are open, to prevent the customer from touching surfaces
- customers should be advised against touching surfaces throughout the property viewing, unless absolutely necessary. This is particularly relevant in furnished properties, where the risk of contamination of surfaces may be higher
- the length of time that a property viewing can be carried out should be minimised
- once the viewing has taken place, the landlord or agent responsible for accompanying the viewing should ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned with standard household cleaning products and towels disposed of safely or washed as appropriate. Shared access areas, for example shared front door access, should also be cleaned. You can get more information about cleaning in non-healthcare settings on GOV.UK.
- workplace guidance for employers and employees should be considered at all times
Houses of multiple occupation
Viewings of empty rooms in otherwise occupied houses of multiple occupation (HMO) cannot take place. Home moves into HMOs are allowed, but government advice should be followed:
- tenants should not move into a HMO if any of the current tenants are self-isolating. Wherever possible, you should support tenants to verify this
- tenants should not move into a HMO if any of the current tenants are shielding. Wherever possible, you should support tenants to verify this
- tenants should not move into a HMO if they are self-isolating or shielding
Where a home move into a HMO is necessary and other people already reside at the property, additional precautions are necessary:
- good hygiene practices should be followed, and you should wash your hands regularly
- all hard surfaces should be cleaned with normal disinfectant - especially door handles, window handles, WC handles, taps, basins and work surfaces
- you should refer to the GOV.UK advice on cleaning and disinfection
Entering people’s homes
If you need to enter another person’s home for the purposes of work related to a home move, for example, a tradesperson carrying out an inspection, the visits should be carried out in line with workplace guidance for employers and employees and the physical distancing in the workplace guidance.