COVID 19 – PLANNING FOR THE NEXT PHASE

Date Published 13 July 2021

As we move towards the planned date for progression to Step 4 of the Roadmap in England and towards school Summer holidays, we will be reassessing existing contingency plans to factor in the implications of our areas of responsibility.

This information is guidance for best practice following the UK Government's decision to proceed to Step 4 out of lockdown in England from 19 July 2021.

There are still cases of COVID-19 in England and there is a risk of catching or passing on the virus, even if people are fully vaccinated. Therefore we will continue to exercise caution and consider the risks.

These updated guidelines are for the buying, selling and renting of property in England only and has effect from 19 July 2021.

IN THE OFFICE
No social distancing required in branches

VISITORS TO OUR OFFICE
Visitors to offices can be unscheduled or by appointment.
We will still display QR codes for customers to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app, to support NHS Test and Trace, although it will no longer be a legal requirement.

STAFF
We still have a legal duty to manage risks. The UK Government's Working Safely guidance sets out a range of mitigations employers should consider
including:

cleaning surfaces that people touch regularly
identifying poorly ventilated areas and taking steps to improve air flow
ensuring that staff and customers who are unwell do not attend the workplace or viewing
communicating to staff and customers the measures that have been put in place
The measures to support staff and clients on viewings include:

• Assess the risks and document all information relating to the viewing
• Face coverings on viewings are not required but are advisory for our agents and clients
• Keep in touch with staff who attend viewings including, health, personal security, and welfare

RIGHT TO RENT CHECKS
As a result of the UK Government's announcement on 14 June 2021 to extend the date for the easing of lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures, the temporary COVID-19 adjusted Right to Rent checks will now end on 31 August 2021.

• From 1 September 2021, landlords and letting agents will revert to face-to-face and physical document checks
• Agents must either check the applicant's original documents, or check the applicant's right to rent online, if they have provided their share code

ACCESS TO YOUR HOME
For viewings,valuations, routine checks, arrange repairs, maintenance, gas and electrical safety compliance, floor plans, photography, EPC's, inventories and all other tradespeople, we will not visit a property where clients are symptomatic or self-isolating.

A NOTE ON VIEWINGS
No viewing should take place if any person in a property is showing symptoms of Coronavirus or self-isolating.

• Where viewings can go ahead there are no limits on the numbers of people who can attend a viewing, but it is advisable to continue to keep numbers to a minimum
• Face coverings on viewings are not required but advisory for agents and clients
• Viewings can be attended by people from different households, but advisable to keep the number of different households attending to a minimum
• After the viewing – existing homeowners and occupiers should clean surfaces and handles

MOVE IN DATES
We can arrange move in dates as required, but will 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.

EVICTIONS AND COURTS
From 1 June 2021, notice periods must be at least four months in most circumstances, including in cases where there are less than four months' of unpaid rent.

There are exemptions for the most serious cases including anti-social behaviour, no Right to Rent and fraud. Notice periods for cases where there are less than four months of unpaid rent, will reduce to two months' notice from 1 August 2021.

Courts:

• On 21 September 2020, the courts started considering possession cases again
• The courts are prioritising the most serious cases (claims issued before the stay on evictions in March 2020)

Debt Respite Scheme:

The Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space) comes into force on 4 May 2021.

• The purpose of the Scheme is to provide a temporary period of respite from creditor (e.g. landlord or letting agent) action to help people in problem debt (e.g. tenant) consider their options and engage with professional debt advice.

Apologies for the long post but we consider it our duty to keep you fully informed of the very latest legislation as we enter this final stage of lockdown. If you have any questions or concerns, get in touch

Stay safe. Stay well.