Latest News

Land Transaction Tax (LTT) nil rate band extended

04 March 2021

On 3 March 2021, the Welsh Government announced that the temporary increase to the nil rate band of LTT for residential property transactions will be extended to 30 June 2021. Read More...

Lack of direct financial support for the sector in the Budget

03 March 2021

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has announced a number of measures affecting the property industry in the UK Government’s 2021 budget, but Propertymark believes more should be done in order to tackle COVID-related rent arrears. Read More...

Calls continue for a Welsh Housing Survey

03 March 2021

Propertymark is continuing to back the National Residential Landlords Association’s (NRLA) in their campaign for the introduction of a Welsh Housing Survey (WHS). Laura Jones MS, Welsh Conservative Shadow Housing Minister, and Mike Hedges MS, Welsh Labour Chair of the Cross Party Group for Housing recently backed the calls by stating that “a Welsh Housing Survey is needed as evidence-based policymaking should be taken as standard.” Read More...

Surge in the number of prospective tenants seeking properties

26 February 2021

ARLA Propertymark’s first Private Rented Sector Report of 2021 covering January shows the number of new prospective tenants rose by more than 27 per cent compared to December 2020 indicating no sign of demand slowing down. Read More...

Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Bill introduced

24 February 2021

The Welsh Government has announced the introduction of the Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Bill which extends the minimum notice period from two to six months alongside other new provisions and will be implemented before the end of its current Assembly (May 2021). Read More...

Staying safe whilst lifting lockdown

Tuesday 04 August 2020

COVID-19 is a powerful disruptor, responsible for the delay of almost 450,000 property transactions. It goes without saying that everyone has to take action in order to minimise the ongoing impact.

Carefully adhering to public health guidance, as we enter a ‘new normal’ agents need to make sure their workplaces are COVID-secure, and have a protocol in place should a member of staff become infected with the virus.

Safe re-opening of housing markets

On 13 May, the Government re-opened the English housing market for business; once more enabling people, for the first time since mid-March, to move house and rent property.

The following month, on 29 June, the UK Government eased restrictions on the housing market; with most recent changes in Wales last week announcing that physically distanced unoccupied property viewings are permitted once more.

Official guidance on reopening high-street businesses that provide an on-site service has been published by the Government.

Virtual property viewings

As there is an increased risk of virus transmission within workplaces in which customers and staff may visit the premises and other work locations, agents are required to offer virtual viewings in the first instance.

Propertymark best practice for appointments

Whilst agents in England could encourage their staff to use the NHS ‘Test and Trace’ app, there has been a lot of confusion surrounding the app itself; also it is sadly limited for use only by those registered with a GP in England.

Adopting a more universal approach to ‘test and trace’ across the UK, Propertymark Best Practice advises agents to keep detailed viewing audits and employee shift records, to enable employers to accurately record staff appointments.

Employers could then access this data to track and trace the properties staff have visited, and the people whom they have had contact with. Using this data, employers could isolate locations and individuals that staff have visited.

Gaining customer and vendor permission, names, addresses, and contact numbers should form these detailed records, which should be a clear diarised audit to follow, should a member of staff begin to present COVID-19 symptoms.

While pubs and restaurants are trying to rapidly understand the implications for data protection, estate and letting agents should already have applicable safeguards in place to ensure there are no breaches of GDPR.

The provision of upfront information for appointments and the property sale process is essential under normal circumstances, however, it is now more vital than ever that this information is collated and stored, for both security, and health and safety purposes throughout this pandemic.

Being responsible

In the event you or a staff member you work closely with tests positive for Coronavirus, official Government guidance states that self-isolation for 14 days is mandatory, as is following guidance carefully on safe social distancing and handwashing. If the test returns as negative, self-isolation for 14 days is still required.

If staff show symptoms of contracting the virus, there is specific guidance to follow on how to clean following their departure from the workplace. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must be worn to clean the workplace, and hands must be washed with soap and water for 20 seconds once all PPE has been carefully removed.

Social distancing and PPE

Agents offering physical viewings will need to confirm with vendors in writing that they have appropriate PPE. Physical viewings should be limited to members of the same household, and open house viewings should not take place.

As of Friday 24 July, facemasks were ruled mandatory for the public, upon entering retail premises. Propertymark can confirm, that in line with their best practice guidance, it is not necessary for agents' staff to wear a face-covering whilst in the office with the same group of people and social distancing, except when dealing with visitors.

Propertymark's views

Public health and Government guidance should always come first. In all instances, it is important to adhere to social distancing measures and any physical appointments should be postponed immediately if anyone is self-isolating or showing symptoms of Coronavirus.

As local lockdowns are still occurring over the UK, most recently in Leicester, and Northern England, guidance may change from week to week depending on which areas and premises are restricted from re-opening.

To keep up to date, view area official guidance regularly, regarding when and how to return to work safely.