Lockdown 2: Business as usual
So we’re all back in lockdown from tomorrow. Most of us could see this coming – and half the country has been under Covid-restrictions for several weeks already - so it’s not much of a shock. But what is perhaps more of a surprise is how different we all feel this time around. Not so much blitz spirit as battle fatigue. It’s been a very long year for all of us – and it’s not over yet! But the good news is that for the property market – and our staff at Ringley – it’s business as usual.
The new national restrictions mean that, once again, many of us will be working from home. However, not only will our property managers continue to be leaseholders’ first port of call for enquiries and block-related issues but our surveyors will still be able to undertake valuations. Despite the lockdown, the MHCLG has confirmed that physical property inspections can continue to be carried out for mortgage lenders and for leaseholders wishing to extend their lease or buy their freehold.
So here are the current guidelines, as we understand them:
- Buying, selling and renting, including viewings, mortgage valuations and removals can all continue, but in a Covid-safe way.
- All necessary repairs and routine maintenance such as external and internal redecoration can still be carried out, again, within the existing Covid-safe guidance.
- Builders’ merchants and hardware stores are now considered an essential service, as new build construction work can continue (under the Safe Working Charter developed with HBF) during the lockdown.
- Remediation work can continue on blocks of flats where it is safe to do so.
- Property managers can continue to visit sites when customers require them to do so and to carry out safety checks or to undertake hazard spotting.
For members of the public - prospective buyers and tenants, as well as vendors and landlords:
- Initial viewings should be done virtually wherever possible.
- When visiting an agent’s office or viewing a property you should wear a suitable face covering unless you are exempt from this requirement. The agent may require you to arrange an appointment before visiting the premises.
- Physical viewings should be arranged by appointment only and there should be no ‘open house’ viewings. They should involve no more than 2 households inside the property at any one time, including the agent. But anyone in a support bubble with either household, will count as part of that household.
- Where prospective buyers who are currently from separate households wish to view the same property, one person should leave the property to allow the other to enter.
- When viewing properties, avoid touching surfaces wherever possible, wash your hands regularly and/or use hand sanitiser.
- If people are being shown around your home, you should open all internal doors and ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned after each visit and you should stay outside while viewings are taking place.
- If you are moving during the lockdown, try to do as much of your own packing as you can. Where this is not possible, you should speak to your removal firm in advance as they may be able to put extra precautions in place to reduce any risk of infection
Since the Spring, virtual viewings of both rental property and homes for sale have become the norm. This has kept the market moving despite additional restrictions. We think that, like Zoom meetings and virtual AGMs, in future they will continue, enabling people to easily filter out properties they are not interested in and create a shortlist of homes they want to view in real life.
We’ve all been living with this virus for some time now and are used to ensuring social distancing and excellent levels of hygiene in our offices and in the buildings we manage. We will continue to offer the whole range of our services and are relieved that this time round, the market remains open for business.
Author : Maryanne Bowring
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