As a letting agent we have no choose but to occasionally visit properties. This might be to conduct viewings, a schedule property visit or with a contractor when things go wrong or need fixing. In the light of the governments latest advise we have had to make a few changes to how we work.
The advice for anyone in any setting is to follow these main guidelines.
- If you have been in contact with someone with coronavirus or have returned from an affected area identified by the Chief Medical Officer as high risk and you are feeling unwell with a cough, difficulty breathing or fever, stay at home and use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111.
- Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in public areas where other people are doing so. Use hand sanitiser if that’s all you have access to.
- To reduce the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue, and throw the tissue away immediately. Then wash your hands or use a hand sanitising gel.
- Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.
Our team have been told to protect themselves, our tenants, contractors and general public from the spread of coronavirus by ensuring they wear gloves where possible, carry alcohol gel and tissues. The will also make themselves known before entering any property and ask if anyone is showing any symptoms of the virus.
We must therefore ask for your help. If you have any symptoms whatsoever then please let us know by phone or email. We will ensure that nobody will visit unless it is an absolute emergency, even if you are self-isolating.
What does that mean for repairs and scheduled maintenance?
The Guild of Letting and Management has thrown helpful light on the responsibilities and recommended approach of letting agents faced with mandatory checks on properties rented by tenants who are self-isolating because of Coronavirus.
Yesterday ARLA reported it was concerned agents may find themselves inadvertently breaking the law by not conducting mandatory safety checks on properties that are effectively out of bounds because the tenant has the virus.
“We spoke to the Health and Safety Executive Gas Safety advice line who advised the following:
– keep records of any discussions that take place with tenants who are self-isolating;
– save all email correspondence from the tenants in question;
– advise contractors that they should not be putting themselves in a position of danger even though they have a Duty of Care.”
In addition, they advised that contractors or letting agents must not put themselves in situations where they could be on contact with someone who is self-isolating
The Gas Safe Register advice line this morning told us that all reasonable steps must be shown to demonstrate that appointments have been made to carry out the gas safety certificate and that records of any correspondence or communication with the tenant must be kept on record. Please, note this applies to ALL situations where access is not possible.
Agents and contractors will therefore ask of tenants or applicants include:
– have you traveled overseas since the beginning of the year?
– have you been been in contact with anyone who has been tested positive or in the process of being tested for the virus?
If we have been notified by a tenant or landlord or contractor that they are self-isolating, we will make a record and rearrange appointments.