Leicester agents have been left in a state of uncertainty as the city prepares to enter a local lockdown.
The city’s bars, restaurants and hairdressers will not open on July 4th as planned, schools have closed and shops that were allowed to open on June 15th have to close again following a spike in coronavirus cases.
Legislation needs to be introduced to implement the lockdown but locals are being advised to stay at home if they can, to maintain 2m social distancing, ensure good hand hygiene and to strictly limit their contact with others from outside their own household.
Agents are unclear of where this leaves the property market and sales that were set to complete.
Oliver Rayns Estate Agents is based in the lockdown area within the LE2 postcode.
Its director Oliver Rayns told EYE: “The latest lockdown in Leicester obviously provides a further wave of uncertainty for clients and customers alike.
“With the Government providing only limited information, it leave small businesses like ourselves with further concerns about what the immediate future holds.
“We re-opened this morning, but are looking to place a pause on all property viewings within the affected area, relying instead on our 360 virtual property tours to hope to entice prospective purchasers to view when the latest restrictions are lifted.
“We all have to wait for further advice on exchanges and completions, but what was arranged during the previous nationwide lockdown saw that moves can still go ahead when ‘absolutely necessary,’, and we all noticed that phrase is very much open to interpretation.”
Harry Singh, managing director of Johals Property in the LE1 postcode said the advice not to travel has left people confused.
He said: “Most of our valuations and viewings have been cancelled as people are worried.
“We were starting to come to a normal working pace and this happened, so it will affect us and our staff. We have been using virtual valuation and viewings.”
The agent was already offering vendors and landlords free property tours and will be extending this while sales progression staff will focus on keeping deals together.
Singh said staff can work remotely but are allowed to travel into the office for essential work where social distancing is practised.
He is awaiting further guidance on home moves.
EYE asked the Ministry of Housing if there would be guidance on home moves in Leicester but we were referred to the Department of Health which has not replied to our query.
A rather stressed spokesman for Leicester City Council was also unaware of the impact on house moves.
It is understood that NAEA and ARLA Propertymark are trying to get clarity from the Government on which property market rules Leicester agents would have to follow.
Paul Offley, compliance officer for The Guild of Property Professionals, said: “There is no specific Government guidance but I would say it would be as previous in as much as home moves which have been agreed and cannot be deferred until restrictions lifted could go ahead – but hopefully Government will issue some clearer guidance on how the re-introduction of lockdown impacts home moves in the Lecicester area.”
Members of The Guild in Leicester have been given the below guidance:
“Teams should work from home where they possibly can, but there is no formal requirement to close offices.
“Offices which do remain open, should operate an ‘appointment only’ system and follow full social distancing measures at all times.
“The requirement for no non-essential travel should be followed – this means travelling to work would be permitted but no other travel within the lockdown areas – unless essential.
“All viewings and valuations should be conducted virtually and no physical meetings should take place in the lockdown areas.
“All other aspects of your Covid secure risk assessment and operating plan should be strictly followed.
“Any member of your team who develop symptoms should follow the NHS Test and trace guidance which can be viewed at nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119.”
— Leicester City Council (@Leicester_News) June 30, 2020
Update: 10am 1st July
Restrictions will be put in place pending a review from 18 July.
- non-essential shops that reopened on 15 June have been asked to close from today (30 June)
- bars, restaurants and hairdressers will not reopen on 4 July
- schools will close from Thursday 2 July except to vulnerable children and children of key workers. They will not reopen until next term
- the relaxation of shielding measures due on 6 July cannot now take place in Leicester
- single-adult households (those who live alone or with dependent children only) can still form a support bubble with one other household
- people are still able to meet in a group of up to 6 and only outdoors, provided strict social distancing is followed
- people in Leicester are recommended to stay at home as much as they can
- we advise against all but essential travel to, from and within Leicester