The return of non-essential businesses to lockdown in Leicester as a result of a localised spike in Coronavirus cases is a reminder to agents to follow new guidelines rigidly, says The Guild of Property Professionals.
Compliance officer Paul Offley says that - even apart from health considerations - agents elsewhere who do not follow government guidelines with regards to COVID-19 are risking having to close their office for a 14-day period during one of the busiest periods the industry has seen for some time.
Agents in Leicester itself say they are confused: some believe the new lockdown does not include agents, and Propertymark is seeking clarification from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
He says that agents should still continue to work from home wherever possible and stick by recommended COVID-secure practices including:
- visits by appointment only;
- social distancing in place and increased hand washing and hygiene processes in place;
- promoting virtual activity - this includes, valuations, viewings, meetings, negotiations, inspections, check outs etc;
- using PPE if required for face-to-face meetings, and always following social distancing;
- if you are tested as positive, you will need to be able to recall those people who you came into close contact starting 48 hours prior to your symptoms so that the ‘track and trace’ can be effective, so make sure you have clear records of these contacts;
- where you have more than one confirmed COVID-19 case in your workplace you are required to inform your local health protection team as this would be classed as an outbreak.
Offaly adds: “The guidelines are in place for everyone’s protection. Just think of the worst case situation - a member of your team has confirmed symptoms which could result in the rest of your team who have been in close contact with that individual, having to self-isolate for up to 14 days – can your business afford that?”
He says that as estate and lettings agents are amongst the few people that are able to go from household to household, adhering to the guidelines and keeping people safe is paramount.
“No business wants to be seen as the reason COVID-19 has spread in a particular area. Agents have a responsibility to their customers and staff to ensure they are following the procedures required to keep everyone safe” says Offley.
Separately, research by comparison website GetAgent suggests that the nearly-100 agents operating in Leicester are like to lose around £400,000 in revenue thanks to the lockdown - that’s based on a 1.4 per cent average commission.