As various areas of the UK go into localised lockdowns with barely a moment’s notice, we take a look at what letting agents should be doing if there’s a local virus outbreak, and what they can expect.
The most important thing a letting agent can do is stay up-to-date with government advice. As the effects and behaviour of the virus are still largely unknown, government response continues to be reactive and can change hourly. The safest way to keep on top of it is to keep checking the official government website, which details not just which localities are facing restrictions, but what those restrictions are.
Check what’s happening in your local area
Having reviewed several of the local restrictions recently imposed, the main thing to point out is how individualised they are, reinforcing the need to check in on what’s happening specifically around you. When Bolton went into lockdown on 20 September, cinemas were still allowed to open between 10am and 5pm, but ice-skating was not allowed. Meanwhile, lockdown in Leicester on 21 September did allow ice-skating. While these discrepancies over sporting activity at first seem unrelated to occupier issues, they demonstrate how unique each local lockdown is and how important it is to stay on top of the details.
Make sure your occupiers are aware
It’s impossible to predict specifically what a local lockdown in your area might involve, but it’s a safe bet to assume that it will restrict the movement of households and the formation of household bubbles (currently allowed to consist of no more than 6 people). While it is not a letting agent’s job to police their occupiers, it is your responsibility to make sure yours are aware of the restrictions placed upon what they can or cannot do at the property you manage.
Occupiers and landlords should also be aware that they can still report repairs and maintenance issues and that emergency repairs will still be prioritised. Do remind them that in cases of emergencies such as fires or suspected gas leaks they must contact the right channels (999 or the gas provider's emergency hotline).
Know your occupier demographics
Make sure you know the demographic of your occupiers – are any of them immuno-compromised or shielding from the virus? Assessing which of your occupiers are vulnerable or at an increased risk will allow you to respond quickly, should your area go into lockdown. Consider suggesting that these occupiers prepare an emergency supply kit, with necessities such as toilet paper and tinned food in case it becomes difficult for them to get to the shops. Any supply prep should be done in moderation – there is no need to buy a 12-month supply of toilet paper, no matter where you live.
Follow face covering restrictions
Don't forget that any visitors or employees visiting properties must wear a face covering indoors unless they are exempt.
If a lockdown occurs:
When circumstances change suddenly, people need reassurance. Make sure you’re contactable.
Adhere to government guidelines
They are there for your protection and fines are enforceable for those who fail to comply.
Keep updated and try and remember lockdowns won’t last forever.
For more information, check https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
You can also see more of our blogs on COVID-19 here.