Hello: so much has happened since the last Conquering Corona column . Before we get on with it, a reminder to please share appropriate advice with the industry by passing it to us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today and every day at 1pm, The Guild of Property Professionals will host a Facebook Live session on its 1000-participant-strong Guild Members Facebook group. The live video will be a platform for The Guild to engage with its Members and ensure that they are being supported.
The topics and content of the videos will vary depending on a variety of elements such as government announcements, legislation or policy changes, compliance, developments impacting the property sector, sharing of best practises and general tips and ideas to help estate agents during this challenging time.
Well known PropTech player Singer Vielle - the firm that offers property search and the ability to exchange online - is offering practical help to agents who want to use its services.
The company’s Neil Singer has told EAT to let agents know: “We have unique technology which enables online sales execution without the need to meet or sign physical documents.
“It remains to be seen the level of transactions in the coming months but if you would like to use clicktopurchase® to help with any commercial sales or residential schemes, I would like to offer you use for no charge during this crisis.
“No obligation on either side for ongoing use, but a short-term arrangement which may assist you and your colleagues at this time. If you would like to take up my offer, let me know.”
We’ve been contacted by Ben Madden, managing director of Thorgills agency in Essex, with details of a campaign to get the government to extend the crisis business rate relief to estate and letting agents.
Ben writes: “Like many estate and lettings agencies up and down the UK, and no doubt around the world too, Thorgills, a one-branch independent agency employing 40 people in Brentford, West London, is facing the harsh reality of a drastic reduction in revenue as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.
“Each day the government releases new measures to control the spread of the virus and protect what has become an increasingly fragile economy, but so far other businesses on the high street have been promised support by way of relief from paying business rates, but estate and lettings agencies won't receive this relief.
"A social media campaign across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is gaining traction, and a petition has been launched to directly ask the government to review the policy and take the livelihoods of tens of thousands of estate and lettings agency workers into account.
"Please join Thorgills by sharing information online with people you know in the industry to help broaden the reach of our message. Find Ben Madden on LinkedIn, search for ThorgillsHQ on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and please sign the petition here: http://chng.it/VpxTTzhRkW “
Many of us have pets of our own so appreciate how important they are, especially as companions in difficult times.
Letting agents in particular may be able to share this information with their tenants; it comes from the PDSA animal care charity, and it’s about self-isolating with pets. Please check it out here.
Finally, a reminder of the government help to companies that was announced on Friday evening and has already been welcomed by many agencies.
The government package:
- UK workers of any employer who is placed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can keep their job, with the government paying up to 80 per cent of a worker’s wages, up to a total of £2,500 per worker each month. These will be backdated to March 1 and will be initially open for three months, to be extended if necessary;
- VAT payments due between now and the end of June will be deferred. No VAT registered business will have to make a VAT payment normally due with their VAT return to HMRC in that period. Income tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021, benefitting up to 5.7m self-employed businesses;
- The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, launched at the Budget, will now be interest free for 12 months;
- The standard rate in Universal Credit and Tax Credits will be increased by £20 a week for one year from April 6, meaning claimants will be up to £1,040 better off;
- Nearly £1 billion of additional support for renters, through increases in the generosity of housing benefit and Universal Credit. From April, Local Housing Allowance rates will pay for at least 30 per cent of market rents in each area;
- The government expects the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to be up and running this week and the first grants to be paid “within weeks.”
Thank you for reading: more tomorrow, and until then stay safe…