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House Moves This Summer - What does the new guidance mean for you and your business?

View profile for Michael Pitt
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The property market needs to get back to some kind of ‘normal’ but as professional conveyancers we understand this comes with additional pressure for businesses such as Estate Agents to ensure a safe working environment not only for clients, but also employees.

Pearson Solicitors can advise on the various concerns raised by latest Government guidance.

We have reviewed some of the common concerns and with the assistance of our Head of Property solicitor Michael Pitt and Employment Law Solicitor Susan Mayall set out various ways for you to proceed with confidence in these challenging times.

As agents do we have to attend client appointments?

The regulations indicate you can attend appointments with potential viewers; however this is not a requirement. Therefore if your vendors are willing to conduct the viewings it may be better to reduce the number of individuals in attendance. You must however ensure your clients are fully aware:-

  • all parties viewing a property should wash their hands with soap and water (or hand sanitiser if not available) immediately after entering the properties – maybe consider providing hand santisers to your sellers for use specifically for viewings
  • All internal doors should be opened
  • Surfaces are to be wiped down before any prospective purchaser enters the property
  • Separate towels or paper towels should be used if possible and washed or disposed of safely after use.
  • Suggest the vendor stands outside the property whilst the purchasers view the property. We appreciate not all vendors will want to do this however 

How do I make sure my vendors follow the guidance?

The points above are merely guidance by the government and the police have no authority to enforce the same under law however it may be that you as a business choose not to work with any person who choose not to follow such guidance.

Do I have to allow clients into the office?

This is a choice for you and your business. You have a duty of care to your employee to ensure that they operate in a safe environment. Given most estate agency matters can be dealt with over the phone or at a distance, you may find that attendance to the office is not essential for our clients and matters can be dealt with remotely.

My clients are self isolating can they allow viewings to take place?

No viewings should be carried out in a household which is isolating because one or more family members has symptoms or where an individual has been advised to shield. You should discuss this with your vendors from the outset but also revisit this query should you wish to make an appointment to view during the house sale process

If the viewing is at a property of somebody who is clinically vulnerable, but has not been asked to shield, for example, the home of someone over 70, prior arrangements should be made with vulnerable people to avoid any face-to-face contact, for example, when answering the door. You should be particularly strict about handwashing, coughing and sneezing hygiene, such as covering your nose and mouth and disposing of single-use tissues. It could be you ask the vendor to wait in the garden and you conduct viewings in this instance. The importance is to discuss these matters with the vendor and find a safe resolution which suits all parties.

What is my responsibility to my staff who attend properties?

As stated you above, as their employer you have a duty of care to ensure they are in a safe environment. Supplying hand sanitiser and disposable tissues can assist your staff in staying safe as well as providing sufficient information in line with the government guidance. You should ensure the guidance is checked regularly as this is being updated regularly. 

For advice on all employment and property issues contact Pearson Solicitors on 0161 785 3500 or email enquiries@pearsonlegal.co.uk

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers LLP or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.