An agency operating in the new Tier 4 area has abandoned viewings and visits to homes until New Year, even though the restrictions allow them to go ahead.
Harrisons Homes is based at Sittingbourne in Kent, one of the areas of the UK at the heart of the new Coronavirus strain and also one of the areas with the highest infection rate.
“How can I say to my team that they cannot see their family over Christmas, yet they can take people out on viewings?” asks Chris Ellis, managing director of Harrisons Homes.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government makes it clear that agency work can continue in Tier 4.
The department’s official guidance says: “You can still move home. People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary. Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work.”
But Harrison Homes says these are uncertain times for the property industry and agents have to make difficult decisions about how to run their businesses.
Ellis continues: “In the last couple of days, we have launched a complete rebrand of our business to reflect the type of business we are - transparent, honest, innovative and part of our local community. With this in mind, we had to really ask ourselves if continuing to go to appointments during Tier 4 is safe or fair.
“How can I say to my team that they cannot see their family over Christmas, yet they can take people out on viewings?”
“Therefore, we have taken the decision to suspend appointments until 2021, this gives us a chance to review our Covid policy and ensure that we can keep our staff and clients as safe as possible. Other than essential office appointments, we will continue to operate as usual, albeit from home”
Over the weekend, when Tier 4 was introduced to much of south east and eastern England as well as London, the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said on Twitter: “Housing market update: the sales and rental markets remain open in all tiers. All associated activities can continue as before.”
But he added: “Please follow the Covid-secure guidance. And use your judgment as to whether it’s necessary right now.”