Three decades after 25-year-old Suzy Lamplugh disappeared on a house viewing, the charity set up in her name is calling on UK estate agents to sign up to a new code to protect the personal safety of those selling, buying and renting property.
In new research carried out by Suzy Lamplugh Trust, a quarter of consumers surveyed said they felt house viewing should be safer; almost three quarters feel it should be down to estate agents to make it safer. Meanwhile, 29 per cent of female estate agents surveyed by the charity said they have felt unsafe at a house viewing .
Now the Suzy Lamplugh Trust has teamed up with Knight Frank and Savills, as well as security operator SoloProtect and The Guild of Letting and Management, to produce ‘Suzy’s Code’ for all UK estate and letting agents and for housing associations. The National Association of Estate Agents has also endorsed the initiative.
Suzy’s Code for Personal Safety says organisations should:
- Implement a buddy system so colleagues always know each other’s whereabouts and contact details. This should include checking in and out when meeting arriving at and leaving the property, including out of normal office hours;
- Have a system in place for colleagues to raise the alarm back at the office in case of an emergency while working alone;
- Have a clear procedure to follow if someone does not return or check in when they were expected;
- Where possible, arrange for viewers to visit the office before meeting them at the property so that colleagues have also seen them;
- Offer all staff a personal safety alarm and have discreet lone worker devices available. Before conducting a viewing, find out who else will be present in the property, such as thecurrent tenant, contractors, and so on when you visit;
- Finally, make sure all staff are aware of and have access to the personal safety measures available.
“We take the safety of our staff and clients very seriously. Despite much improved technology since the tragic incident we have lone workers operating over many markets and strongly support the effort of the Trust to heighten awareness for the benefit of all” explains Andrew Hay, head of global residential.
Justin Marking, Savills’ head of global residential says: “Personal safety is a top priority for our staff and clients and we’re delighted to support the work of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. We hope this new code will set the personal safety standard for all UK estate agents. It should also act as a guide for any homeowner or landlord taking the decision to operate independently and conduct viewings alone.”
And Mark Hayward, managing director of the National Association of Estate Agents adds his voice by saying that the safety of everyone in the housing sector is hugely important “but especially those who are involved in viewing properties as part and parcel of their day to day jobs. We welcome this research by Suzy Lamplugh Trust and join the Trust in calling upon all our members to sign up to Suzy’s Code.”