An unidentified estate agency has been threatened with prosecution by a local council after opening its office to the public during the current England lockdown.
The revelation has come from The Guild of Property Professionals which was recently contacted by an agent from the office in question.
He was apparently told by the local authority that he would be forced to close the office or face a financial penalty if his agency did not operate under a locked door and appointment only basis.
“The agent was contacted by the local authority and told that they were not allowed to be operating and if they continued to conduct business they would be prosecuted” says Guild compliance supremo Paul Offley.
“At this point, The Guild contacted the local authority, as well as the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to confirm that the agent was in fact allowed to continue to assist people to move home.
“After much deliberation, it was determined that the issue was that while the agent was following the Covid-secure guidelines, they had not had their office door locked” adds Offley.
Offley says this situation serves as a warning that local authorities are being proactive and taking action where they believe an agent is not operating under a locked door and only seeing clients who have made an appointment.
“While agents are allowed to continue to facilitate home moves during the lockdown, it is vital that it is done so in accordance with the health guidelines that the government has set out or they run the risk of being either financially penalised or closed by their local authority” he advises.
Offley continues that ideally agents should be working from home and using virtual tools as the first form of interaction with buyers, sellers, landlord and tenants.
However, if working from home is not feasible and agents are working from an office, the only people they should be allowing in are those who have made an appointment and have undertaken a health check before the appointment confirming that they do not have any Covid symptoms.
“Following these guidelines will mitigate the spread of Covid-19, while ensuring that the agent is not punished by the local authority. As a sector that deals with the public and in people’s homes, it is important that every caution is taken to ensure that all parties involved are kept safe” he concludes.