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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Fury over agent breaching government rules on opening to public

There’s been a furious response to the agent who appears to have breached government rules by opening his branch to the public - believed to be the first agent to do so.

Yesterday we revealed that Liddington Bone Property, a single-office sales and lettings agency in Gloucester, opened its doors and adopted a ‘one in, one out’ policy. Extensive social distancing measures were implemented.

However, a poll of over 600 readers of Estate Agent Today showed a strong 66 per cent against the move, and none of the 21 strongly-worded comments left on EAT, all by known agents, backed the company.

Last evening the company’s telephone was not being answered and its Facebook page appeared to have been taken down; it is not known if it will repeat the opening today.

Yesterday evening NAEA Propertymark’s chief executive Mark Hayward told EAT: “Estate agents are still termed a non-essential business and should therefore be obeying the government’s guidance. Agents should continue working from home and utilise virtual viewings. Offers are still being accepted virtually, and agents are agreeing to sales, subject to contract and a physical viewing once lockdown measures are eased.”

And Paul Offley, compliance officer for The Guild of Property Professionals, told EAT: “While The Guild has been lobbying the government to consider estate and lettings agents to be among the first sectors to open, and we have been issued government-back guidelines to our nembers on safely returning to work, our advice to our network remains work from home unless you are unable to do so. 

“If the government and health experts’ advice and guidelines are not adhered to, we run the risk of a prolonged lockdown, a possible second wave of infections and far greater damage to the economy and our sector.

“The advice is, if you can work remotely, do so … We will continue to follow government guidance until such time as any restrictions are lifted.”

Arguably the most relaxed response came from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Late last evening it gave Estate Agent Today a statement saying: "The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives. When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we will reduce the spread of the infection. 

"To reduce social contact, the Government has ordered certain businesses and venues to close to members of the public. The government has agreed the list of closures in line with advice from medical professionals. In England, Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers will monitor compliance with these regulations."

You can see the original story here.

  • Matt Faizey

    Irony and hypocrisy strong.

    An awful lot of moving firms know full well that many agents working from home are pushing completions. In normal chains, and have been since lockdown.

    The cognitive dissonance required by some agents to have encouraged home moving, and pressure on movers to do so while being pious regarding this agent is amusing.

    As someone who has received calls direct from 3 separate agents from end March to mid April from EA's putting pressure on us as a mover to work....... I think caution is the word before being critical here.

    I don't know this agent, and know nothing about how they operate. I would not presume however that by opening an office they are automatically being irresponsible in comparison to others.

    I absolutely know there are agents working from home encouraging far less responsible activity in shameless fashion.

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    I'm working from home and I'm pushing the solicitors to move as far down the process towards exchange as they can. I'll push as far as I can then I'll leave it to others to decide whether they can safely continue or not. Nothing risky or pious about that. Just what the vendors and buyers would want us to do

     
  • Richard Copus

    This needs to be looked at objectively rather than emotionally. The Council and the police see a grey area where the owners and staff (possibly family) are working from their own office with social distancing measures, sanitisation and PPE in place which is why they have not been able to object to the opening and why the police turned up yesterday and did nothing. However, the firm's Catch 22 situation is that it is crystal clear under the regulations that members of the public should not be travelling to and from places which are not for essential business and estate agency has been clearly classified as non-essential. Therefore these people could be prosecuted by the police under the legislation and the estate agent prosecuted for aiding and abetting (remember this is criminal not civil law) by encouraging visitors to break the law.

  • James Hurst

    The Government are having to make thousands of decisions with imperfect advice in a limited amount of time. They can't get everything right. IF this agent is operating safely, we should be encouraging this sort of behavior, not demonising it.

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    I wonder then if everyone can prove they are working safely then everyone can go back to work. That's jumping the gun a little and chaos ensues

     
  • edward apostolides

    This is hypocritical BS coming from these agents with their sanctimonious ramblings. The Government's instructions are very clear and we're reiterated by Ministers on the BBC this morning: If at all possible work from home, if that is not possible then as long as social distancing guidelines are observed you can go to work.
    Crystal! This agent is if anything putting extra guidelines in place according to your article and they should be applauded for having the courage to be open their doors!

  • Richard Copus

    You've completely ignored the fact that people are not allowed to travel to non-essential places, Edward and estate agents are non essential travel! Therefore visitors to the office can get prosecuted and some of them probably will with all the media coverage this firm has generated.

  • Richard Copus

    I just called Liddington Bone to see if I could visit their office and the person I spoke to said that the office was closed to the public but they could do viewings on empty properties. End of story then.

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    Still don’t think you can do viewings in person yet.. even if it’s empty how can they ensure it’s safe are they wearing PPE? If it’s an empty flat have they ensured all communal areas, stairwells and lifts are clean? Still seems to be against government guidelines. All agents I know still only offering video tours for now maybe that will change soon but not yet!

     
  • Richard Copus

    I'm sure you're right, Robert. And in any event, people are not permitted to view properties unless completion is imminent or they are about to move into rented.

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    Anyone else who made a comment on here had a call from said Gloucester agent ranting about it? He accused us of being too scared to undertake viewings (a chicken I think he called me) and said no-one has died in Gloucester so it's fine!

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