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Agency apology over ‘bullying’ claims to allow Covid viewings

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.

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"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.”

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  • James B

    Never read so much drivel.. these rent flakes need a proper shake ... I can’t imagine how I’d ever feel like I was going to be sick because someone was doing a viewing in someone’s house i was renting

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    you are making money out of it

     
    Algarve  Investor

    Maybe because of a potentially deadly disease swirling around the home if the viewing wasn't carried out correctly?

    I'm not sure why she agreed to it in the first place, but feels like she may have pressured into it, but I wouldn't feel too happy with numerous back-to-back viewings taking place in a home I was living in right now. Or viewings 15 minutes apart, which is effectively back-to-back.

    People need to be sensible right now and this Yopa agent wasn't. He's been deservedly called out for it.

     
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    I've never had any dealings with Yopa, so I can't speak for their service, but it sounds to me as if the agent was just doing his job. Reading the full article from the local paper it seems this tenant didn't voice her concerns to her landlady or the agent, nor did she make a formal complaint about them after the fact, both of which would have been more mature options than running to the press about it. It's a complete non-story. Yes, it is a pandemic, but people still need to sell as we well know. We are all working hard to be covid-secure across our industry and we have been allowed to continue our work. I'm sure had the tenant said she was uncomfortable then Yopa could have arranged virtual viewings very easily - they are an online agency after all.

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