Clyde Property – Guidance and Commitment to 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.

This information is guidance has been developed with regulatory bodies based on best practice following the Scottish Government’s decision to move the whole of Scotland to Level 0 from 9 August 2021

 

This guidance should be used in combination with the Scottish Government’s

  • Guidance on Moving Home during the Coronavirus outbreak – click here
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for private landlords and letting agents – click here

Scottish Government Announcements & Eligibility

These updated guidelines are for the selling and letting of property in Scotland only and has effect from 9 August 2021.

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. Home Reports
  8. Visits to property for routine checks, repairs, cleaning and maintenance
  9. Tradespeople
  10. Viewing property
  11. Preparing property for new tenants and inventories
  12. Move in dates
  13. EVICTIONS, PRESCRIBED FORMS AND THE FIRST TIER TRIBUNAL HOUSING AND PROPERTY CHAMBER

 

  1. OFFICE

A phased approach to returning to offices can begin and home working, where possible is to be encouraged and employers should be considering supporting their employees to do so. Businesses should consider staying below the maximum capacity level where possible taking account of the number of people who can safely physically distance within their premises.

The appropriate level of physical distancing required is 1m indoors from 19 July. Employers are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the Coronavirus (COVID-19): general guidance for safer workplaces.

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
  • Agents should inform visitors to their offices of the need to wear face coverings
  • Keep records of who has attended the office in a Visitor Book in case it is needed for COVID-19 contact tracing
  • Agents should wear face coverings while in close face-to-face contact with visitors

 

  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.

Employers still have a duty to manage risks to those affected by their business and workplace risk assessments must be regularly undertaken, with mitigation measures implemented as soon as identified.

Working Safely guidance sets out a range of mitigations employers should consider including:

  1. cleaning surfaces that people touch regularly
  2. identifying poorly ventilated areas in the venue and taking steps to improve air flow
  3. ensuring that staff and customers who are unwell do not attend the office or a viewing
  4. communicating to staff and customers the measures that have been put in place
  • Businesses must not require a self-isolating worker to come to work
  • Businesses should make sure that workers and customers who feel unwell do not attend the office or a viewing
  • Businesses will be encouraged to ask staff and customers to clean their hands regularly and clean surfaces that people touch regularly The measures to support staff on viewings should include:
  • Assess the risks and document all information relating to the viewing
  • Keep in touch with staff who attend viewings including, health, personal security, and welfare

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 (PROPERTY MARKETING)

Valuations and floor plans can be undertaken at the property.

  • No valuation or floor plan assessment should take place if any person in a property is showing symptoms of Coronavirus, self-isolating or shielding
  1. PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHS AND VIDEOS
  • Photos and videos can be done in person at the property with no requirements for remote working
  • No photography or filming should take place if any person in a property is showing symptoms of Coronavirus, self-isolating or shielding
  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
  • No EPC assessments should take place if any person in a property is showing symptoms of Coronavirus, self isolating or shielding

Landlords (and Clyde Property as their Managing Agent) must make every effort to follow existing gas safety regulations, the electrical safety regulations and comply with all other legal requirements:

  • 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 preferably in electronic format or alternatively by post
  • 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 or agents must be able demonstrate they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the law • A landlord or agent could show reasonable steps by keeping copies of all communications they have had with their tenants and tradespersons as they attempted 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 REPORTS

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)
  • 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 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 must wear face coverings
  1. TRADESPEOPLE / CONTRACTORS

There is an expectation from the Scottish Government that tradespeople follow guidance on moving home as well as 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
  • Non-essential work inside people’s homes, such as painting, decorating, or repairing is permitted

 

  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
  • All viewings should be by appointment only
  • Open house viewings should be avoided, but if they are held, appropriate restrictions should be put in place to
    minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19. For example, by limiting the number of people who can view a property
    at the same time
  • 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 should be limited to those who only really need to attend
  • Viewing Agents can accompany viewings and should maintain, where possible, a minimum 1 metre distance from others
  • Agents should not drive clients to appointments or share a vehicle with another household unless it is an absolute must. If sharing a vehicle is necessary, the guidance from Transport Scotland is to be followed
  • No viewing should take place if any person in a property is showing symptoms of Coronavirus, self-isolating or shielding
  • 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.
  • 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 minimum.

Letting 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

Vulnerability check:

  • The agent should have confirmation of consumers’ health by receiving declarations of Coronavirus symptoms (current or previous) in writing prior to the viewing and kept on file.
  • Existing homeowners and occupiers should clean surfaces and handles

 

  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. It is Clyde practice to only do inventories in unoccupied property
  • 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) – click here
  • 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) – click here
  • 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
  • For further information on removals view advice and guidance from the British Association of Removers.

 

  1. EVICTIONS, PRESCRIBED FORMS AND THE FIRST TIER TRIBUNAL HOUSING AND PROPERTY CHAMBER

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 introduced temporary changes in relation to the evictions process in the Private Rented Sector.

The changes apply where a landlord serves a Notice to Leave, Notice to Quit (and Form AT6) or Notice in terms of Section 33 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988 from 7 April 2020 until 31 March 2022, the emergency period.

Discretionary grounds

All the grounds for possession in a Private Residential Tenancies, Assured Tenancies or Short Assured Tenancies during the emergency period are discretionary.

Notice periods

Changes to the notice periods across all tenures have been introduced. With Private Residential Tenancies varying from 28 days, three months or six months and Assured or Short Assured tenancies either being two months, three months or six months all depending on the ground of possession being used.

Prescribed forms:

  • The Notice to Leave and AT6 forms reflecting the current changes have been updated, with the Scottish Government suggesting these are the preferred choice to use

Contact your local Branch