The 13th May was a significant day for our industry, as the government allowed a loosening of the property sales and lettings restrictions which have been in place since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. While all of us have been affected by the disease in many ways, this was a particular relief for the estimated half a million buyers, vendors, landlords and renters who had their home moves put on hold for the foreseeable future.
One month on, we’ve seen great signs of the market improving and we’re cautiously optimistic for the future. Many of our photographers, operators and support staff have returned from furlough and are eager to get stuck in. In fact, we have had some of our busiest days since returning to work.
We have made a number of changes to the way we operate, to keep you, your clients and our staff safe as we navigate these unprecedented times. We’ll outline these changes below, but firstly we’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported us over the last few – very strange – months.
We’re pleased to see that the market hasn’t plummeted during the two-month absence, but rather taken a brief hiatus. With so many of us spending an increasing amount of time at home, it’s clear that many are re-evaluating what is important to them about where they live, and now that interest rates have lowered, demand has soared. This is undoubtedly great news for the economy and the hope that we can bounce back from the financial uncertainty and avoid a deep recession.
With this demand in mind, we’re taking a number of precautions to ensure the safety of our staff, clients and vendors, particularly as we are now taking bookings for occupied properties.
Most notably, we’re asking everyone that we do business with to sign up to our new Terms of Engagement: our new company coronavirus policy. These guidelines have been drawn up to keep everyone safe: the health and wellbeing of our staff and clients is our primary concern and given the severity of this virus, ease of spreading infection and to protect our staff, clients, the public and our NHS it is imperative that the guidelines are followed – failure to do so may incur charges and will lead to delays.
Fourwalls Terms of Engagement
– When making an appointment we will ask if any of the household has shown symptoms of Covid-19 or has tested positive in the last 14 days. If they have, we will not be able to proceed with the booking.
– Upon arrival at the property if we think anyone at the property is showing Covid-19 symptoms we will leave immediately.
– We are not able to attend properties where vendors are present who are officially shielding or in the vulnerable category.
– If we need to collect keys, they should be left in an agreed place in order to avoid any unnecessary face-to-face contact of less than two metres. We may ask you to place the keys in an envelope or bag that we will provide, we will only touch the keys once we are wearing gloves. We may also disinfect the keys.
– Upon arrival at the property we would ask that the two-metre distancing rule is adhered to at all times. Ideally the vendor or agent should vacate the property whilst we are in attendance, and at the very least they should not be in the same room at the same time.
– The property should be well ventilated with fresh air prior to our visit but we will need windows shut when photos are taken.
– Appointments should not be double booked with other contractors; where possible we should be alone in the property.
– Where possible children should not be present in the property and should vacate whilst we are in attendance.
In order to reduce the chance of spreading the virus our aim is to touch as little as possible at each property. Therefore, we ask that the property should be ready to be photographed. We will not be able to tidy things away or move furniture. Please also ensure that all lights are on and internal doors left open; we will photograph and leave the property as we find it. In this respect, please also ensure that all windows are left closed.
While we enjoy the interaction with vendors and agents, at this time we will politely decline any offers of refreshments – but we thank you for your generosity.
We have taken additional steps to protect our staff by issuing them with personal protective equipment (PPE), hand sanitiser and disinfectant spray. Our operators may request to wash their hands on arrival and will be wearing protective gloves and a mask throughout the appointment. They will carry disinfectant spray with them and may need to use this for keys, their kit or even in some areas of the house if they feel they need to.
Upon arrival at the property our operator will carry out a risk assessment. If they feel these guidelines have not been followed, they will not continue with the appointment and the commissioning agent will be charged the full cost of the job.
We thank you for your co-operation during this difficult period. We obviously want to mitigate any potential risk to our staff, you and your clients, so your assistance and understanding is greatly appreciated. This policy will be reviewed weekly, as Government guidelines are updated and as we receive feedback from fieldworkers.