Clyde Property – Guidance and Commitment to post COVID-19 Safe Working

This information is guidance for best practice. It has been developed with regulatory bodies based on Government guidance regarding the introduction of new ways of working, to adhere to safety measures but allow agents to continue to provide a professional service to clients and customers.

Areas covered in this Guidance;

  1. Office
  2. Staff
  3. Reference, credit checks and payments
  4. Valuations and Take-Ons
  5. Professional photographs and videos
  6. Landlord Compliance
  7. Visits to property for routine checks, repairs, cleaning and maintenance
  8. Tradespeople
  9. Viewing property
  10. Preparing property for new tenants and inventories
  11. Move in dates

 

  1. OFFICE

Where staff can continue to do so they should work from home, but staff who cannot work from home (e.g., working practices require them to be in branch if they cannot do their job adequately away from the office or properties) can go into the office. Essentially this should constitute the minimum number of people necessary.

Where practical, the measures we have put in place to keep staff safe in the office include:

  • A review the layout of branches and offices to ensure staff work further apart and reduce the amount of shared equipment;
    • There is to be no ‘hot desking’
    • Staff must work from the same desk / phone / PC / laptop and must not move around unless there is a shortage of desk space at which point they must sanitise the work station and equipment before and after use
  • We will consider rotating staff between working in the office and working at home
  • If the office has more than one door, the staff should use a separate entry and exit to the office. For example; entry through the ‘main/front’ door and exit through a fire door where physically possible
  • There will be signage to remind employees keep to a two-metre distance as well as to sanitise / wash hands regularly
  • We will continue to maintain our third-party office cleaning schedule but additional sanitising will be required each working day by staff members as follows;
    • All work surfaces and equipment to be sanitised regularly; for example, in the morning, during the middle of the working day and at the end of the working day
    • Each staff member is responsible for their own workstation and equipment
    • The Area Manager must similarly implement a sanitising schedule of ‘high touch areas’ (for example; door handles, light switches, photocopiers, kettles, fridge / cupboard door handles) in the morning, during the middle of the working day and at the end of the working day
    • Note:- It is advised that this is done by internal staff rather than arranging external cleaning companies in order to reduce the number of people coming in and out of the office
  • There is to be a limit and restriction of numbers in interaction spaces e.g., kitchens – 1 person (2 in Clarkston) and 1 person per table in staff room areas
  • Keep the office well ventilated with open windows and doors where possible
  • We have installed protective Perspex screens to create a physical barrier between people where affordable and feasible. This includes protective screens on the front two reception desk in every branch and additional screens in Head Office/Letting Management Office and Shawlands branch
  • Hand sanitiser on reception desks, and readily available throughout each office in meeting / staff rooms
  • All internal doors are to be kept open where possible during the working day
  • All light switches are to be kept on during the working day
  • Hold meetings in well ventilated rooms
  • Minimise instances of staff gathering for meetings
  • Using protective Perspex screening for staff in receptions areas

 

Visitors to all offices

We discourage visitors from attending the office unless it is absolutely necessary;

  • All visitors to the office should be arranged by appointment and only after all means of communication (e.g., email, email, video call or telephone) have been exhausted
  • Contractors collecting keys should be a last resort and tenants / landlords / sales clients should facilitate property access wherever possible
  • Keep records of who has attended the office in a Visitor Book in case it is needed for COVID-19 contact tracing
  • Deliveries are to have no person-to-person contact
  • There is to be no personal staff deliveries to the office

 

  1. STAFF

Employees are an integral part of any businesses and will be supported whether they are working from home, in branch or conducting mobile tasks.

The measures we have put in place to support staff working from home include;

  • Review and provide equipment for employees to work from home safely and effectively (e.g. laptops, PCs, chairs and mobile phones including forwarding calls where the facility is available)
  • Continue to monitor the well-being of employees who are working from home. Line Managers should have regular contact with their team

The measures to support staff working in branch and from home should include using remote working tools to avoid in-person meetings. This includes encouraging consumers not to attend the office unless vital and communication cannot be done online or virtually.

The measures to support mobile staff include:

  • Single-use protective equipment (e.g. gloves and face masks) supplied to staff
  • Hand sanitiser and disposable antibacterial wipes supplied to staff
  • Mobile staff must use hand sanitiser, and as far as possible avoid touching any surfaces in the property
  • Mobile staff must use the disposable antibacterial wipes supplied to wipe down any surfaces they touch
  • Assess the risks and document all information relating to the property visit
  • Regular contact with mobile staff who attend properties including; health, personal security, and welfare
  • Staff must dispose of any protective equipment or wipes they use. Nothing should be left in a property

 

  1. REFERENCE, CREDIT CHECKS AND PAYMENTS

Letting Negotiators can continue to do reference checks on any new tenants before they move in. Where possible payments, referencing or credit checks should be conducted remotely.

Letting Viewers will be asked to complete the Tenancy Application Form PRIOR TO VIEWING in order to vet and qualify tenant applications in advance, keeping footfall and viewers to a minimum.

  1. VALUATIONS AND TAKE-ONS

Valuations and Take-Ons can be undertaken at the property subject to the following;

  • Valuers should provide their services remotely where possible
  • Valuations and Take-Ons can be carried out on an unoccupied property
  • No Valuation or Take-On should take place if any person in a property is showing symptoms of coronavirus, is self-isolating or shielding
  • Valuers should contact the owners or occupiers before the appointment and ask; whether any party is showing any COVID-19 symptoms or has been asked to self-isolate before going ahead with any valuation or take-on at a property. Valuers should also ensure that owners or occupiers understand that all doors and access panels are open and surfaces have been cleaned with household cleaning products in line with public health advice.
    During a visit, members of the household should follow social distancing guidance, staying 2 metres away wherever possible, for example by staying in another room.
  • Valuers as part of their pre-valuation call should also ask what owners or occupiers are comfortable with in terms of PPE. Valuers are all equipped with single use protective equipment (e.g. gloves / hand sanitiser and face masks). Valuers should dispose of these appropriately. They should also use hand sanitiser as well as use anti-bacterial wipes to wipe down any areas they touch.
  • Agents and Owners / Occupiers should keep records of who has attended the property in case it is needed for COVID-19 contact tracing

 

  1. PROPERTY VIDEOS
  • No photography or filming should take place if any person in a property is showing symptoms of coronavirus, self-isolating or shielding
  • Only one videographer may visit a property at any one time
  • Make sure the occupiers are outside of the property and the property is hazard free
  • Single use protective equipment (e.g. gloves / hand sanitiser and face mask) should be worn/used and disposed of appropriately. They should also use hand sanitiser as well as use anti-bacterial wipes to wipe down any areas they touch

 

  1. LANDLORD COMPLIANCE

The legal requirement to obtain an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) when a property is built, sold, or rented remains in place.

  • Where an EPC assessment needs to be carried out, the Scottish Government’s social distancing measures must be adhered to and the assessor should be familiar with the HSE ‘Working safely during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’ guidance
  • EPC assessments can continue where a property is empty
  • No EPC assessments should take place if any person in a property is showing symptoms of Coronavirus, selfisolating or shielding

Landlords (and Clyde Property as their Managing Agent) should make every effort to follow existing gas safety regulations and the electrical safety regulations.

  • Landlords must provide tenants with all necessary gas and electrical safety and any other relevant certification documents at the beginning of a tenancy (and carry out all scheduled inspections and tests where required)
  • Where inspections have already been carried out, documents can be provided by hard copy or by email
  • Gas and electrical safety regulations allow for situations where a landlord cannot carry out their obligations e.g. a tenant has coronavirus symptoms, is self-isolating or shielding
  • Landlords must be able demonstrate they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the law
  • A Landlord could show reasonable steps by keeping copies of all communications they have had with their tenants and with contractors as they tried to arrange the work, including any replies they have had. Landlords may also want to provide other evidence they have that the installation, appliance or flue is in a good condition while they attempt to arrange works
  • Landlords, agents, and relevant tradespersons should be familiar with and follow the most recent COVID-19 advice and guidance released by Gas Safe Register

 

  1. HOME REPORT

A home report for the property must still be obtained prior to any property being marketed for sale.

  • Where a home report or survey requires to be carried out, surveyors should follow guidance from the Scottish Government and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
  • Only one surveyor should visit the property at any one point
  • No Home Reports or surveys should take place if any person in a property is considered vulnerable, showing symptoms of coronavirus, self-isolating or shielding

 

  1. VISITS TO PROPERTY FOR ROUTINE CHECKS, REPAIRS, CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE

Letting staff can visit property for routine checks and arrange repairs and maintenance but must communicate with tenants prior to arrival;

  • Agents should give tenants at least 48 hours’ notice before the time of visit in writing or email, with details about who will enter, the time and include the reason for visiting
  • Agents should also outline to tenants before arriving (in writing) and on arrival (verbally), that social distancing (e.g. residents staying in another room during the visit) and hygiene measures should be followed
  • Agents should not visit a property where tenants are symptomatic or self-isolating, or where it has been determined that they are clinically extremely vulnerable and are shielding
  • Agents should wear protective equipment (e.g. gloves and face mask) and dispose of these appropriately. They should also use hand sanitiser as well as use anti-bacterial wipes to wipe down any areas they touch.
  • Repairs, cleaning, and maintenance should ideally be conducted in the period between a property being vacated and a new tenant moving in
  • Where this is not possible and visits are needed to an occupied property, this should be done by appointment with measures put in place to ensure social distancing

 

  1. TRADESPEOPLE / CONTRACTORS

There is an expectation from the Scottish Government that tradespeople follow the UK Government’s safer working guidance and companies should ensure employees understand how to operate safely and communicate this to customers:

  • Contractors should contact the household in advance to check that no member of the household is showing symptoms of coronavirus, self-isolating or shielding. If they are, works should be delayed
  • No work should be carried out by a person who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild
  • Tenants / landlords / sales clients should facilitate property access wherever possible.
  • Contractors collecting keys from the office should be a last resort
  • During a visit, members of the household should follow social distancing guidance, staying 2 metres away wherever possible, for example by staying in another room.
  • Contractors should wear single use protective equipment (e.g. gloves and face mask) and dispose of these appropriately. They should also use hand sanitiser as well as use anti-bacterial wipes to wipe down any areas they touch

 

  1. VIEWING PROPERTY

To reduce the spread of coronavirus and keep the market moving, it is important that only Viewers who are serious about making an offer physically view property;

  • The prospective viewers moving and financial situation should be checked prior to a viewing taking place at the property
  • There are to be no speculative viewings
  • Open house viewings are not allowed
  • Viewings must follow a two-step process;
    • Step 1 virtual viewings – staff should ensure that the interested party has watched the property video, reviewed the photographs and floorplan and is a serious viewer
    • Step 2 controlled viewings (see below);
  • Viewings can only be attended by 2 people from the same household and children are discouraged from attending. No more than 2 viewers can attend a viewing
  • Viewing Agents can accompany viewings and should maintain, where possible, a minimum 2 metre distance from others
  • Letting Viewings should be carried out by Viewing Agents rather than the tenant occupiers. Tenant occupiers should wait outside the property.
  • Sales Viewings can be carried out by Viewings Agents or Owners / Occupiers. If a Viewing Agent is not carrying out the viewing, the Owners / Occupiers must be fully aware of their obligations in terms of social distancing obligations and staff should make sure that both viewers and owner occupiers clearly understand how the viewing should be conducted safely.
  • Viewing Agents should not drive viewers to appointments

 

Step 1, virtual viewings

Once the property is on the market all viewings should be done virtually and online initially (e.g. by viewing a video of the property). Staff should ensure that the interested party has watched the Property Video, reviewed the photographs and floorplan and is a serious viewer.

Step 2, controlled viewings

Visiting property is a crucial step when purchasing a new home. To assist this process, see the below process;

 

Before the viewing:

  • No viewing should take place if any person in a property is showing symptoms of coronavirus, self-isolating or shielding
  • Controlled viewings of property should be made by appointment only (30 minute slots, 20 minutes for the viewing 10 minutes to wipe down any touched surfaces) subject to all parties providing a declaration of coronavirus symptoms (current or previous) before viewing the property. A declaration should be made in writing via email and records kept accordingly on the Viewer record
  • Owners / Occupiers living at the property must agree in writing or via email to each physical viewing
  • Owners / Occupiers doing their own viewing should confirm in writing via email or verbally (with this verbal confirmation logged on file) that they have appropriate protective equipment (e.g. face mask and gloves/or hand sanitiser) before facilitating their viewings. Without confirmation the viewing should not go ahead. Clyde cannot provide PPE to Owners / Occupiers.
  • Letting Viewers – Letting Viewers will be asked to complete the Tenancy Application Form PRIOR TO VIEWING in order to vet and qualify tenant applications in advance, keeping footfall and viewers to a minimumLetting viewers should be emailed the following draft email text to confirm to them in writing via email that they should have appropriate protective equipment (e.g. face mask and gloves/or hand sanitiser) before attending a viewing. Without confirmation the viewing should not go ahead. Clyde cannot provide PPE to viewers.
  • Email to letting viewers;

Dear Tenant Name

Before attending the viewing at XX Property Address on XX DATE 2020 at XX time, please read our COVID-19 Viewing Information at www.clydeproperty.co.uk/COVID19/viewings

No more than 2 people can attend a viewing & you must wear your own facemask & gloves / hand sanitiser. If you do not attend the viewing with this PPE, then the viewing will not take place.

Please reply by return to confirm you have read and understood the above, and also to confirm that you are not showing any coronavirus symptoms, are currently self-isolating or shielding.

Kind regards,

Letting Negotiator

 

  • Sales Viewers – should be qualified and asked to confirm in writing via email or verbally (with this verbal confirmation logged on file) that they should have appropriate protective equipment (e.g. face mask and gloves/or hand sanitiser) before attending a viewing and also confirm that they are not showing any coronavirus symptoms, are currently self-isolating or shielding. Without confirmation the viewing should not go ahead. Clyde cannot provide PPE to viewers.

Sales viewers will be sent a text message automatically when they are sent the text viewing confirmation.

  • Text message to sales viewers;

Before attending your viewing please ensure you have no COVID-19 symptoms & read our COVID-19 Viewing Information at www.clydeproperty.co.uk/COVID19/viewings No more than 2 people can attend a viewing & you must bring your own facemask & gloves/or hand sanitiser. Thank you.

  • Viewing Agents and Owners / Occupiers retain the right to refuse entry if the Viewers are not wearing a facemask
  • All used protective equipment should be disposed of appropriately and not left in the property
  • Where a Viewing Agent is carrying out the viewing, make sure the Owners / Occupiers are outside the property and the property is hazard free, including where possible any communal areas

 

Vulnerability check:

  • Staff booking viewings should have confirmation of the viewer’s health by receiving declarations of coronavirus symptoms (current or previous) in writing prior to the viewing and keep this logged on the Viewer file.
  • Do not conduct any viewings where anyone living in the property is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, however minor they may be
  • If an Owner / Occupier of the property, or a viewer are self-isolating or have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 within the past 14 days, then the viewing cannot take place until the shielding period is complete
  • If anyone is ill with respiratory symptoms, they cannot come to the property, and if the vendor or anyone in their household is ill, no one can come to the property
  • For further advice contact Public Health Scotland

 

Key information before the viewing

  • Do not schedule back to back viewings, viewings must be booked in no less than 30 minute slots (20 minutes for the viewing 10 minutes to wipe down any touched surfaces)
  • There should be sufficient time between each viewing for any necessary cleaning to take place
  • Viewers should wait at a distance from the property until they are told they can enter
  • Viewers must have facemasks on prior to entry and should be wearing gloves or use hand sanitiser upon entry to the property
  • Viewings must be contactless. The agent should ensure that all lights are on, cupboards and doors are open (as well as any other specific areas such as loft hatches and setup loft ladder) to reduce the need to touch anything
  • Only 2 adults (plus the Viewing Agent) can attend a viewing at any one time together. Where possible children are discouraged from attending
  • The length of time viewing the property should be kept to a minimum, 15-20 minutes, to allow for any required cleaning before the next viewer.

After the viewing:

  • The Viewing Agent (if carrying out the viewing) or the Owners / Occupiers should clean surfaces and handles.

Second viewing:

  • Additional visits to view property can take place but should be kept to a minimum
  • It is recommended that these take place after both parties have agreed an offer
  • The two-step process (step one virtual viewings and step two controlled viewings) should be followed with the relevant social distancing and hygiene measures carried out

 

  1. PREPARING PROPERTY FOR NEW TENANTS AND INVENTORIES

Check Out Inspectors and Inventory Clerks can carry out inventories and check-outs but must adhere to social distancing and hygiene rules to minimise possible spread of coronavirus.

Staff should wear protective equipment (e.g. gloves / hand sanitiser and face mask if tenant occupiers / landlords are present)

Staff should dispose of these appropriately. They should also use hand sanitiser as well as use anti-bacterial wipes to wipe down any areas they touch.

 

Inventories

  • Inventories should be conducted in the period between a property being vacated and a new tenant moving in
  • The Inventory Clerk should be the only person at the property during the Inventory Inspection
  • Try to ensure the property has been completely empty for at least 72 hours before doing the inventory and then remain empty for at least 72 hours afterwards (72 hours being the apparent time the virus can stay alive outside of the human body on surfaces)
  • If this is not possible, make sure that neither the inventory clerk nor anyone in the property previously has any coronavirus symptoms

Check Out Inspections

No Check Out Inspection should take place if any person in a property is showing symptoms of coronavirus, self isolating or shielding

  • Where possible the Tenant will be asked to refrain from being present at the Check Out Inspection. The Renewals team will discourage Tenants from attending the Check Out.
  • The Renewals team will try to ensure the property has been completely empty for at least 72 hours before doing the Check Out Inspection and then remain empty for at least 72 hours afterwards (72 hours being the apparent time the virus can stay alive outside of the human body on surfaces)
  • If this is not possible, make sure that neither the Check Out Inspection nor anyone in the property has got any coronavirus symptoms
  • While at the property, if the Tenant insists on being present, this should be done with measures put in place to ensure social distancing i.e., make sure the Check Out Inspector and Tenant are not in the same room at the same time; ideally Check Out Inspectors should ask Tenants to wait outside the property during the process

 

  1. MOVE IN DATES – Sales & Letting

Staff should do what they can to promote flexibility when arranging move dates:

  • Advise clients to ensure contracts have explicit terms to manage the timing risks presented by coronavirus.
  • Staff should work with clients and other agents to decide a new date to move if one of the parties falls ill with coronavirus or must self-isolate
  • Staff should ensure that any keys are appropriately cleaned/sanitised and then bagged in a clear sealed bag before handover. The UK Government has provided advice on cleaning for non-health care settings
  • For further information on removals view advice and guidance from the British Association of Removers.

Contact your local Branch