An online agency has apologised to a single mother who felt pressured into allowing viewings of a property she was renting.
Local media in East Anglia report that Theresa Upton, who lives with her 11-year-old daughter, had been renting for seven months when the property was unexpectedly put up for sale and viewings arranged through Yopa.
Upton has told the Eastern Daily Press that the viewings were arranged at short notice and she felt obliged to go along with them.
"I feel like I was given no choice but to allow the viewings … On Friday night I got a message from the landlord saying there was a viewing at 5.30pm on Saturday. I felt I couldn't say no … I was then told there were back to back viewings booked on Sunday. I went out for about two and a half hours and it was raining and cold, I felt physically sick when I came home.”
The tenant said she felt physically ill after going out and thinking of multiple individuals visiting her home in a short period during the pandemic.
A spokesman for Yopa told the paper: "She said she felt bullied and pressurised into accepting viewings and so I apologised if I had made her feel like that … Every step I made sure it was Covid secure. The viewings were arranged between her and the owner of the property. I then gave her a call to confirm and she was happy for them to take place. It was only afterwards she raised concerns.”
Yopa denied the viewings were back to back but admitted each appointment was for 15 minutes with a 15 minute break in between to allow for the property to be sanitised between visits.
Viewings started at 10.30am and finished at 12.15pm.
The landlord told the Eastern Daily Press she had not been made aware of the tenant’s concerns by Yopa, nor by the tenant who had herself been given an opportunity to buy the property. “I'm in no rush and she really has no reason to feel worried” the landlord said.
Meanwhile an online petition demanding the closure of agents’ offices because of the risks posed by viewings has now secured well over 4,000 signatures.
The petition, by an individual named Vikram Shah, says viewings are unsafe and it wants the government to close all agents’ offices as the work is ‘non-essential’.
It reads: “I would like to request that the Government and Parliament reconsider their decision for Estate Agents to remain open during lockdowns and within tier 4. It is difficult for them to follow guidelines and they are not ‘essential workers’.
“The most valid reason to action this is to protect and save lives. Keeping estate agents open, which allows several households to mix during viewings is going against guidelines and is neither safe or sensible.
“Agents are feeling forced and pressured into conducting viewings whilst this should be the last of their worries especially as there is now a new variant of the virus.
“Agents should work from home and do virtual viewings and only do physical viewings where absolutely safe to do so.”