Hello and here’s the next batch of guidance and advice from different sectors of the industry, many from influential trade groups.
It’s possible that you might already be implementing or considering many of these ideas - if not, we hope this one-stop-shop for advice and guidance might be inspiring and a call to action as appropriate.
Please let us know your advice and guidance, just send it to firstname.lastname@example.org - thank you.
Rightmove continues its webinars for agents today, on the Rightmove Hub.
It features global real estate trainer Josh Phegan on how best to stay in touch with customers. Other webinars in the series will include lettings legislation and help with managing mental health during this time.
Here’s guidance from the Federation of Independent Agents given to its members, but of interest to the wider industry no doubt - and please note that FIA agents have a dedicated webinar arranged for tomorrow:
“We’ve issued supporting documentation to all FIA members from our employment law partners to ensure that the workplace remains compliant for all, we have a dedicated free telephone helpline that has been resourced to ensure our agents can call at any time with any concerns they have about working from home regulations, general safety of staff and any other employment issues they aren’t sure about during these uncertain times.
“We’ve secured an FIA exclusive rate for the use of Focal Agent’s Smart Viewing platform that will enable unlimited viewings to take place remotely, this will provide our members with a long term solution to the continued self isolation scenarios we’re facing.
“We’ve issued a WFH (Work From Home) guide to all FIA members including how best to maximise this opportunity to focus on tasks to keep their businesses functioning and preparing for a return to normality, there are lots of tips to help agents carry out key tasks in preparation.
“An FIA webinar will be launched on Friday hosted by our training partners Bryan Mansell and Sarah Edmundson from Allstars Training to cover a wide-range of topics around how to ensure that any loss or delay in new business is kept to a minimum.
“We have an FIA WhatsApp group where will will continue to share our experiences around the country of the market conditions and pass on advice and tips to assist each other through this difficult period and beyond.”
Relocation Agent Network has announced that all of its regional meetings are now going virtual, with the next round of them offering important help to member agents.
Agendas will include RAN team best practice guidelines on working from home and facilitating members sharing their own plans. These virtual calls are exclusive to RAN members.
Regional WhatsApp groups for members are being set up to maintain communication and share information and ideas, and RAN’s National Advisory Council has a dedicated WhatsApp group to share best practice across the regions, maintaining a UK perspective on the rapidly changing property market landscape.
RAN will also continue the roll out of its collaboration with HBB solutions, offering members the chance to offer part-exchange, chain-building and quick-buy services. This service may be of particular interest to some customers in these uncertain times.
There’s also extensive helpful advice from safeagent to help support firms in our industry.
Here’s a summary of it, with very useful links applicable to all agencies - and please note that the ‘help for tenants’ element was written before any government announcement on financial support for renters with income issues as a result of the virus:
“Contingency planning: If you have to close your office and operate with the majority of staff working from home or you suffer staff shortages due to illness, it is vital that you maintain good communication channels with your landlords and tenants.
“You should explain to your landlords and tenants what measures you have put in place for any period of business interruption and how they can still get in touch with you, should they need to do so.
“It is vital that you protect the safety of yourself and your staff. Useful information provided by government for employers can be found here - guidance for employers and business with a comprehensive FAQ section which is applicable to both employers and employees.
“Routine Property Inspections: We suggest you suspend routine property inspections until this emergency is over and communicate this intention to your landlords.
“The question arises however as to what happens when you are required, for example, to meet a legal requirement such as having a Gas Safety check carried out and you are unable to gain access to a property if a tenant is self-isolating. What should you do?
“We have spoken to The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government regarding guidance on accessing a property in such circumstances or for repairs and maintenance. MHCLG have confirmed that they are actively considering guidance and as soon as we hear more we will share it with you at once.
“Help for tenants: For tenants who may have trouble paying their rent because of a change in their work circumstances or because they are ill, there is useful advice from the Department of Work and Pensions which you should share with them. This information is helpful for existing benefit claimants or anyone new to claiming benefits because of the emergency.
“Prepare your landlords if it looks as though their tenant - even if they have always paid on time previously - may fall into rent arrears
“Help for businesses: The government has set up a dedicated helpline to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs. Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559
“For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee will be refunded by the Government in full. The details of how this recent Budget announcement will be implemented have not yet been published and we will let you know when we hear further.
“The government has also announced that it will provide an additional £2.2 billion funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no Business Rates because of Small Business Rate Relief (SBBR).
“This will provide a one-off grant of £3,000 to around 700,000 business currently eligible for SBRR or Rural Rate Relief, to help meet ongoing business costs. Your Local Authority will be able to help you further regarding this new grant and the eligibility criteria.”
That’s it for today. Please stay safe out there and check back in tomorrow for more advice and guidance… and please send us your advice if it’s appropriate for the wider industry.