Covid: Estate agency branches provide ‘an unsafe environment’

A number of agents have contacted Property Industry Eye over the past week to report that their workplace has not been made Covid-19 secure, despite the government’s decision to keep the housing market open for business.

More than half – 55% – of readers polled last week said that they do not feel safe in their workplace during the existing lockdown.

Estate agency employees expressed the greatest concern, but many agency owners are also worried about current working conditions.

Safety in the workplace has been an issue during the pandemic which goes back to the initial lockdown in March last year. This is despite the government issuing a new set of national restrictions for agents earlier this month, with adherence to safety and social distancing absolutely crucial.

A separate Property Industry Eye survey of almost 3,400 readers, which also took place last week, found that the majority of respondents believe that, given the threat posed by the new variant of coronavirus, it is unsafe for the government to allow agents to continue operating.

When asked whether the property market should remain partially open, as now, with branches able to open, socially distanced physical viewings, valuations and meetings, 62% were against the notion and voted no.

The decision to keep the housing market operational and estate agency branches open, which is a key difference between the existing lockdown and the first one of March 2020, is an issue that has divided the property industry.

Here are some of the many comments we have received from agents in strictest confidence this week:

One agent said: “I work for a large national EA corporate. In a shared office of six, all staff have been requested to work in person not from home – three were confirmed with Covid last week, they had been viewing with clients but the company didn’t inform them afterwards that they may have been infected and felt it unnecessary when asked. There is also no distancing at morning meetings.

“Following the latest lockdown restrictions, there has been no head office communication to staff to urge safe working practices, only frequent emails for regional inter office competitions to book as many valuations or viewings as possible – we can [should] carry on as normal, pushed  to agree more sales ASAP to beat stamp duty deadline.

“Last weekend several offices had packed diaries with back-to-back viewings on occupied properties. No time allocated for sanitising and no virtual viewings.”

Another agent commented: “We are a small franchise lettings agency, and we have three staff and two bosses. The office space is not a problem but often all five of us are in the same space and contractors come and go when they please to collect keys so there can be up to eight people all in the same room.

“We worked from home remotely in March [2020] with no issues. We have all the equipment to do this. I myself do not drive therefore I am getting on four different busses every day to get to the office and back. I have expressed my concern but they say if Boris [Johnson] says we can open then we are open.

“We even open Saturdays for just four hours and the phone never rings we are just sat in the office for an extra day for nothing. I have asked for Saturdays to be scrapped just for lockdown, but they said the opening times are on the door.

“There is no appointment system for keys to be collected and some contractors stay in the office for up to 30 minutes discussing jobs and general chit chat. We have appointments for move ins where new tenants can sign up but again, and if a contractor knocks on the door they are let in.

“The negotiator goes out on viewings and there is no hand washing/sanitizing on return.

“At the moment the director is off isolating due to his mum and dad testing positive [to Covid-19] and also coming into contact with someone else who has tested positive. Our other boss is his wife and she is still in the office with us.”

He added: “I feel this is an unsafe environment and we are in the office when we could safely work from home just the same.”

A senior branch manager of a London-based independent estate agency with almost 20 offices across the capital said: “From a financial stability perspective I am glad that the government has decided to keep the sector open, this gives us the certainty of a fairly-secure job. But on the other hand, I can’t deny my concerns about the safety of my team, my clients and myself.

“Firstly, we are surely taking videos of every property but applicants [prospective tenants and buyers] expect us to visit the properties as they know physical viewings are still permitted. The issue comes when an entire family is attending a viewing despite being informed that they won’t be allowed to enter altogether.

“Another problem is definitely an occupied property. We normally explain to owners and tenants that we expect them to wait outside and keep windows open during the appointments but most of them are reluctant, especially now with the rain and in the cold weather, they don’t really want to wait outside hence often we end up with too many people inside a property.

“Some of them simply refuse access, and I can’t blame them, but as agent, unfortunately, we need to chase them to show the flat as we have landlords pushing us to insist with the tenants to minimise vacancies, with the consequence that lot of tenants threat us to report us to the local authority or the property ombudsman.

“We have had situations where clients were not wearing masks, property inspections and appraisals were carried out with cleaners inside [the property] and owners inside the property not respecting distancing, while many clients have asked us to remove our masks [on viewings].”

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65 Comments

  1. EstateAgent20

    It’s a shame that many companies seem to care only about business and keeping busy rather than the safety of their clients and employees. I am very grateful for my job, but that does not mean that I am ok about putting myself at risk on a daily basis carrying out back to back viewings with people who are not even proceed-able and returning to an office with no protective measures in place. The anxiety I have about going to work is through the roof yet my company will not listen to my concerns.

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    1. Eyereaderturnedposter12

      Hi EstateAgent20,
       
      I think that the last line of your comment is quite telling, and that relates to anxiety (and you wouldn’t be alone in this regard).
       
      A point I think worth making, is that unless you have any serious underlying health issues (if you have, your employer should have immediately identified you as someone who should work from home), or you are over 75 (which from your comment I’ll wager you’re not)…then the risk is really very minimal indeed. Albeit, you may be acting in a ‘caring capacity’ for someone who is considered vulnerable (an elderly family member, and so on)… but this would then be your responsibility to ensure that you are not passing anything on.
       
      Is it possible that the anxiety you feel/ perceived risk, is significantly disproportionate to the ‘actual’ risk that COVID may pose to you?
       
      (This is not intended to be disregarding of your concerns, only intended to provoke some thought into the realities of the matter)  

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      1. Rob Hailstone

        I’m in my early 60s, not overweight and a non-smoker and whilst not a fit as a butcher’s dog, pretty fit. I caught Covid (as did my 54-year-old wife) between Xmas and New Year. Floored us completely for three weeks. Now recovering slowly. We appear to have been was lucky, it did not end up severely affecting our breathing. The dry Covid cough continues.
        I cannot agree with your comment, “the risk is really very minimal indeed”. The ultimate risk, is death.

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        1. Eyereaderturnedposter12

          Hi Rob,

          It’s good to hear that both your good wife, and you…are in rude health.

          What you have described however, is essentially an entirely normal process (which happens every day, of every year, since time began), that is to say…You contracted an illness, your body combated that illness, and you recovered. This is quite normal, and on that basis, shouldn’t really cause any undue concern.

          I stand by my comment (as I have stated previously) that the risk is indeed minimal, to those of working age, in reasonably good health. As you yourself, are testament to that fact.

           

           

           

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          1. jan - byers

            The hospital near me had a queue of ambulances backing up 1.4 mile yesterday.

            The medics were running in with the most ill people to get ahead iof the waiting queue.

            Yea its so minimal.

            Moron

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            1. Eyereaderturnedposter12

              Hi Jan,

              I’m a little confused by your comment.

              Are you stating that you stood on the road, monitoring ambulance and medic activity, enquired as to why and what was happening? Or did you simply switch on Skynews/BBC news, and were informed of this?

              I don’t think it’s necessary to make a personal attack on someone, who doesn’t share your views. This is normally indicative of an inability to actually enter into a constructive debate on any particular topic. If in doubt, throw out an insult?

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            2. Dick Value

              Which hospital? Let’s corroborate your observation.

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          2. Rob Hailstone

            Normal? In my 60 plus years, I have had nothing quite like it (maybe if you mixed food poisoning and flu together), and I certainly would not want to pass it on to anyone else, no matter what age etc.

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            1. Eyereaderturnedposter12

              Hi Rob,
               
              If you read my intial repsonse again, you will see that my reference to normality is clearly in respect of the biological processes of being ill, and subsequently combating/recovering from that illness. Indeed, i suspect that no one would want to pass ANY illness onto anyone else…Covid or otherwise.
              I would say that you’re very fortunate for COVID to have been something, the likes of which you have not experienced before (in the sense that you’ve not suffered a worse illness). Ultimately, you are essentially (from what I can glean from your comment)…fine.
              Given that you are closer to the ‘higher risk’ category (being of possibly [no offence intended] more advanced years than some of the OPs), this would suggest that my comments regarding ‘risk’ are (to some extent) supported by your own experience(?).

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      2. JordanBrooks88

        Incredibly naive and uninformed comment. Part of the reason we are in a third lockdown is exactly this attitude

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      3. petsinestateagency

        Very patronising and dismissive of genuine concerns – poster, please do not think that eyereaderturnedposter12’s comments are in any way representative of generally held views.

        Plus, to say that if the poster is caring for someone who is vulnerable then it is simply their responsibility to make sure they don’t pass anything on….how exactly? The only way to do this would be to stop doing the caring. Masks, sanitising etc etc will only do so much. Surely one lesson from the whole sorry event is that we are all responsible in some way for everyone. So if an employer has a staff member who has caring responsibility, a good employer should accept that they also have some responsibility in ensuring that the carer is not put in a position where they may catch something which they pass on to the vulnerable person.

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        1. Eyereaderturnedposter12

          petsinestateagency,
          I don’t believe my comments are patronising or dismissive and I think you may have misunderstood a particular part of my comment, so I shall clarify (although your suggestion that my comment is not representative of ”generally held views”, is something we can both agree on. Having said that, it could be deemed as slightly arrogant to position yourself as someone who purports to know/understand what the ”generally held views are”…)
          The element of my comment relating to the ”carer” situation, was to address the possibility that the OP may be a carer, and thus feels anxious not for reasons of their own health, but for reasons of potentially passing something on, at home.
          ”Plus, to say that if the poster is caring for someone who is vulnerable then it is simply their responsibility to make sure they don’t pass anything on….how exactly?” How does one take responsibility for ensuring that one isn’t ill?…If that is your concern, BEFORE going to meet anyone vulnerable…obtain a COVID test (this seems to be a rather obvious solution, to allay that particular concern) and await the results.
          Shall we remove personal responsibility completely?… JordanBrooks88 appears to share your belief on that front, as apparently my attitude is one of the reasons that we’re in a thrid lockdown (nothing to do with the Government, it’s the fault of people like me…*rolls eyes). Jordan, how might my views on the matter be the reason that we’re in a third lockdown? I follow all current laws/guidance…ONLY because it is law, and i’m not intent on breaking the law.
          Don’t be mistaken into believing that simply because somethign is ‘law’…that makes it right/correct. I would suggest the naivety, is firmly in your camp.
           

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          1. smile please

            EYEREADERTURNEDPOSTER – Agree with you 100% there is a risk of people leaving the house every day without a pandemic and you don’t see mass hysteria.

            Still less than 1% of the population will sadly die from this pandemic. over a 99% chance of us surviving it, i will take those odds.

            How many employees smoke, know risks to them and their close ones, leave work for a break every day to have a cigarette. Strangely they do not give up. Yet they are happy to carry on smoking. But when there is a chance to stay at home and get paid they worry about less than a 1% risk ……..

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            1. Eyereaderturnedposter12

              It seems that common-sense, personal responsibility and fact…have been replaced by hysteria, fear-mongering and an inability to want to take responsibility for ourselves…This Government (sadly) has incredibly successfully infantilised the UK (and many of the comment on PIE appear to demonstrate this). 
              It seems to me that many have lost all reason, and put forward comments based on anxiety and neuroses, that borders on an almost ‘cult-like’/superstitious belief system.

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              1. JCAS91

                Whilst I agree that their is minimal risk for working age adults there is still risk, therefore I can completely understand why most are still not happy going to work despite their age. If I had a 0.1% chance of dying from COVID-19 I still wouldn’t want to increase the chance of getting it even slightly. Granted my chances of dying are next to none but many will find the fact there is even a minute possibility is not acceptable when the consequence is so serious. Especially when most estate agencies nowadays do have the capabilities of working from home successfully.

                My honest opinion is that offices should stay open but on skeletal staff. So have 1 or 2 people in everyday and others working from home and keep people on a rota and make sure the office is professionally cleaned regularly.

                 

                 

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          2. Southcoast Agent

            Eyereaderturnedposter12 – You’ve taken a bit of a battering here and I don’t think you deserve it, I understand the purpose of your original comments. It is thought provoking, and could have been of benefit to the original post. 

            Unfortunately though, the risk is high if your agency is still busy, and there are anxieties around which seems to be common in agencies around where I’m based. I work for a small independent, we can complete our work from home, but the powers above are insisting we stay open as it has a positive image. We are receiving less than 10 calls a day, mainly for PM, we have a Neg who is at best completing 1 viewing a day and an inspection clerk who is being refused entry to 90% of his properties.

            The positive side is, where we are quiet the risk is low, but there is still added risk of just being here. We do have the occasional ‘walk-in’ as we are not allowed to have a locked door policy (even though it’s Government guidelines), all of these decisions will increase anxiety, and although the threat may be low, it is still real.

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      4. Mythoughts

        From what I’ve read of your responses and comments, you remind me of the TV character Wolfie Smith played by Robert Lydnsey in the TV series “Wolfie Smith” (Older readers will no doubt remember him)

        At least Totalitarianism hasn’t appeared today!

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

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        1. Eyereaderturnedposter12

          I’m flattered that you take some interest in some of my comments…although, without wishing to take the wind out of your sails…The character ”Wolfie Smith”, was a Marxist.
          I am neither a Marxist nor TV character…
          I’m pleased for you, that you find some jollity and seek to be disparaging toward those who may not share your ‘faith’ in the state of the country, its politics and the tangible negative change in the thought processes of many millions of peope…I’m sure you find this comforting and is effective defence mechanism allowing you to not address the realities of the current state of play, in the UK. I however, do not. I am deeply passionate about this subject, as a VERY ‘concerned citizen’.
          Feel free to avail yourself with the ‘text-book’/accepted definition of ”Totalitarianism”,and the facets that place us in this state. If not, feel free to watch re-runs of ”Wolfie Smith”. 😉  
           

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          1. Mythoughts

            The point was clearly missed. Slightly deeper thinking than literal required and you might get there.
            From pardoxically a VERY concerned citizen who sees the debate not as health issue but one of the erosion of personal choice.
            This Government (sadly) has incredibly successfully infantilised the UK (and many of the comment on PIE appear to demonstrate this). 
            You said it !
             

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            1. Eyereaderturnedposter12

              Apologies, i thought that you had read some of my previous comments.
               
              Could you clarify what is paradoxical about my position?

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              1. Mythoughts

                If I have to explain… You  fight the good fight over the erosion of liberty and control of the state and how the general Populus are walking blindly in some state controlled abyss but yet, you are absolutely compliant. “I follow all current laws/guidance…ONLY because it is law, and i’m not intent on breaking the law.”

                What more could the state ask for ?

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

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                1. Eyereaderturnedposter12

                  Very simple…
                   
                  I employ people, who rely on the employment I provide, to support themselves and their families. Indeed, i would not for one moment risk/act in a manner that would be detrimental to those who have been loyal and at my side, for many years.
                   
                  It is for this reason (and the desire to not break the law), that I abide by current government guidance. My compliance is neither virtue signalling, nor does it represent any agreement with the state’s overriding narrative.
                   
                  I wish to be very clear on this point. I operate under no illusion that my simply by expressing my views on the subject will possibly have little effect on the current state of play…however, by engaging in a debate on this subject, and voicing on them on certain platforms, may just encourage others to think beyond the very small ‘box’, that this narrative has created for many people.
                   
                  And no…you don’t ”have” to explain. You choose to. So please, enlighten me as to how my views/position, are paradoxical…as you have not clarified that point.
                   
                  I would like to ask you a question…how would you characterise the current political model/position/direction of the UK?  

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                  1. Mythoughts

                    My position is one of those vitriolic opinions that coincides. with the narrative that the virus is spread by contact. The fact that there are densely populated places such as supermarkets  in relation to Estate Agencies, should not offer any argument that Estate Agency is in some way is immune from spreading the virus. It is not a competition to be the least likely source of transmission.

                    Your comments regarding the  death rate of over 80’s (.009%) shows the total lack of understanding of why not just the UK but countries across the world have adopted this policy of lockdown.

                    Consider Australia and their approach and the number of positive cases and deaths.

                    Sweden where 45% of the Adult population live on their own tried the “Herd Immunity” approach. It didn’t work.

                    Sadly, the death rate as tragic as it is, is not the primary driver for the lockdown.

                    Arguments that you are only likely to die if you are over 80 and/or have underlying health problems  is the level of argument best reserved for TWITTER.

                    As I have alluded to previously, more joined up thinking needs to be employed and a fuller understanding of the effects of Covid amongst survivors and the wider implications of a burdened NHS.

                    It is simply not “The flu without a vaccine”, an argument recently pedalled around.

                    You repeatedly state that you don’t mean to be patronising or arrogant but comments such as he one below and your reference to PIE readers has been infantilised, say differently

                    Conversely, it seems that those who may believe the narrative and subsequent measures to be disproportionate, illegitimate, unjustified…appear more willing to constructively debate the matter.

                    Your feelings of having liberty curtailed, social life eroded and connections with family severed are understandably felt by many. Their compliance like yours,  doesn’t signal agreement of the lockdown.

                    By the same token, correctly, they don’t see it as a threat to their long term social or political  rights and a call for some debate on the socio-political state of the country. (a subject apparently you could talk about for hours).

                    As erudite as you may wish to appear, the level of argument in all your posts when not being passively disrespectful to other contributors are anything but original.

                    This is as much time I as I have to waste writing this reply,

                    You could always start a Petition .

                     

                     

                     

                     

                     

                     

                     

                     

                     

                     

                     

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                    1. Eyereaderturnedposter12

                      You make some salient points (and some points that are, at best, specious)…but equally, to state the following ”As erudite as you may wish to appear, the level of argument in all your posts when not being passively disrespectful to other contributors are anything but original.” in a response awash with (to borrow a phrase) ”passive disrespect”, does seem a little hollow ( I don’t wish to appear as anything other than someone who is quite comfortable in expressing his views) but the passive aggressive attempt to be derogatory, is noted. 
                       
                      ”Sweden where 45% of the Adult population live on their own tried the “Herd Immunity” approach. It didn’t work.” Perhaps not, however with a current death rate close to 1/10 of the UK’s…Sweden surely has got something right (or conversely, the UK’s measures are entirely counter-productive)…would you not agree?
                       
                      You’re evidently not an unintelligent person (and reasonably eloquent), however you have rather demonstrated the point i’ve made above…that the derogatory approach seems to serve as the ‘fall-back’ position of those who are gleefully supportive of the narrative.
                       
                      I’ll see if I can post something a little more ‘original’ for you (of course, you neither need to read/respond to my comments…so please don’t feel the need to waste any more time on the matter).
                      Have a successful day.
                       
                       
                       
                       
                       

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      5. hodge

        You confuse yourself with minuscule pieces of information and then thinking you are a scientist. My Daughter is a Doctor and works covid wards. Whilst there are more elderly dying from this disease it still affects younger people and in some cases ,severely. However you may contract the disease and unwittingly pass it on to someone who dies. Please never let your wallet or title confuse yourself into believing you know things.

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        1. Eyereaderturnedposter12

          There’s a very interesting divide, that seems to be prevelant in the COVID debate (not only on PIE, but in society in the wider-sense)…It seems that those who are supportive of the COVID narrative (often quite vitriolically) seem to not wish to debate…but prefer to rely on derogatory, sometimes abusive approaches…when legitimate questions are posed/comments/concerns are profferred.
          Conversely, it seems that those who may believe the narrative and subsequent measures to be disproportionate, illegitimate, unjustified…appear more willing to constructively debate the matter.
          The idea of attempting to villify, antagonise and generally seek to belittle those who do not share their belief…is a sad indictment of the negative effects of this highly divisive narrative.
          Hodge,
          Your comment appears to suggest the following:
          -That you know which specific data sets i refer to, when commenting. 
          -That you know the source of this data (this may surprise you, the data is largely that of the ONS/UK Govt. Only I look at the actual data, and not the misrepresented sound-bites spewed out by the like of BJ, PP.
          -That I think i’m a scientist (to put your mind at rest, no…i don’t think i’m a scientist).
          -That you know my title and my financial status (it almost appears that you are attempting to suggest that there is some element of classism at play)
          -That i am somehow confused. 
          With respect hodge, your comment demonstrates the absolute absurdity of the position that many take, in relation to a very pertinent, and important debate. 

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    2. Andrea1982

      How awful that employers can’t implement measures to ensure there employees feel safe and valued. They will shoot themselves in the foot. I hope they have made you aware that even if you have 2m distance if you are together for more than 15minutes you would have to self isolate in the event  one displays symptoms these where issued last week. I would maybe seek advice about the wife coming into work when husband is self isolating. Seriously I feel for you it sounds awful and must be a really worrying and anxious time. What ****** me off is these agents give others a bad name    

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  2. Not Surprised

    These permissions are granted by Government and all the time it’s legal to operate this way then lots of businesses will do so.

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  3. MattMatt74

    I wonder how many of these ‘voters’ wandered down to their local supermarket and bought their lunch or stocked up on beer and wine for the weekend without stopping to think…..If these supermarkets can make it safe to shop why can’t we make buying, selling and renting properties safe.

    To hear comments from people saying ‘my employer hasn’t made my workplace safe’……is just nonsense, to be safe you need to wear a face mask and stay more than a meter away from the person you are talking to.

    It really isn’t more complicated than that……follow the rules and you will be fine.

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    1. AgencyInsider

      ‘follow the rules and you will be fine’. Not necessarily, MattMatt74. I know four people in age group 40 – 60 who have been really really careful and followed all the rules to the best of their ability. They got the virus.

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      1. MattMatt74

        How? you CANNOT catch it if you follow the rules…..I would suggest they caught it by NOT following the rules.
        How do you think the vast majorioty of us have not caught it? I know how I have managed not to catch it….by following the rules.
        The government have made it quite simple for even us sales people to follow.

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        1. Southcoast Agent

          I thought this was sarcasm to begin with. Following the rules reduces the risk. It does not make it impossible. You may have caught it and been asymptomatic, get off your high horse fella. 

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          1. MattMatt74

            I’m not on any horse, if you dont get close to someone and follow all the guidlines with regrads to washing hands and wearing masks, it is impossible to catch it.
            dont be silly and do appoimntments that arent necessary and certainly do not do morning meetings all sat round the managers desk…..all my offices are either shut or have minimal staff in them so social distancing can take place. 
            Meetings are done by Teams or Zoom where possible and NONE of my staff have caught it…that isnt luck, its being sensible.
            400 poeple at a wedding last night is not sensible and is not following the rules.
            Each to their own as they say, but my staff all have jobs, are all getting paid and are safe in the knowledge that wont change as long as long as they follow the guidelines.

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    2. jan - byers

      Shops are not safe I know 3 people who have contracted covid and the obnloy place they left the house for is to get food

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      1. MattMatt74

        rubbish!

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        1. Beano200062

          I’m with you Matt. There are people saying ‘I’ve been isolating and following all the rules and still caught it’ on the news. What they are not saying is they popped in to see some friends on their way to the shops.

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    3. surrey1

      Probably more necessary to feed yourself than be doing viewings with unproceedable buyers.

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      1. MattMatt74

        Well if you are doing viewings to unproceedable buyers then you really need to take a look at yourself and ask WHY you are doing that?

         

         

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        1. surrey1

          I concur. I think the point of the article is that some are being pushed by their employer to do such a thing.

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  4. letstalk

    I really feel for these staff, their anxiety is real and valid. Nobody knows how each individuals body will deal with a Covid infection and even the hospitals will now tell you they are seeing more and more of the younger demographic being admitted. So the comments above, at this point, very much come from burying ones head in the sand!

    My staff have worked from home throughout the first lockdown (furloughing those that couldn’t for personal reasons) and again since November 2020 with myself, my partly furloughed partner and one admin staff in a large secure office space where we have excellent ventilation available to us and social distancing is simple as we all sit in different sections of the office.

    The admin is only here because she wants to be as she cannot work from home, she knows the option of furlough is there if she wishes to take it.

    Staff are predominantly working in empty properties and, where there are viewings we have extremely strict guidelines that are not flouted. 2 people max, masks, gloves for staff (hands strictly in pockets for those viewing and ask us to open anything they wish to see), all sanitise on way in, all sanitise on way out. Our tenants and landlords have been amazing, we regularly send them our risk assessment (also available on our website) so that they know our policies and procedures and how seriously we are taking the matter and completely respect that. Tenants have been hugely accommodating by sitting in their cars when we attend.

    We have had one one star google review because we refuse to do physical viewings for anyone that has not been pre-qualified and seen a virtual tour, I think that says more about the person leaving the review at a time like this than it says about us, I have replied and pointed out why we follow this process which I actually think that replying to that review was an opportunity to show how responsible we are being.

    I have a duty of care to my staff, my contractors and our tenants at all times, as well as those viewing. Their safety and wellbeing must come first at a time like this. One of my staff has tested positive for Covid as of this week, but is still living at home with a father and brother working (so no idea where its come from) but I am gratefully able to say that it is unlikely to be her job and that the rest of my team now remain unaffected by this.

    I am confident that my actions will mean I retain excellent staff, keep everyone safe and actually just means that we are placing better quality tenants in the homes available anyway. We certainly are not seeing it have an adverse affect in terms of length of empty periods, in a market like this thats highly unlikely!

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  5. Palmtree1

    As per the quote in the article

    One agent said: “I work for a large national EA corporate. In a shared office of six, all staff have been requested to work in person not from home – three were confirmed with Covid last week, they had been viewing with clients but the company didn’t inform them afterwards that they may have been infected and felt it unnecessary when asked. There is also no distancing at morning meetings.

    How is this acceptable? I know of another estate agents which has done exactly the same! The boss just wants to hide everything at the risk of peoples health!
    Absolutely disgusting behaviour. The boss even lied on the track and trace form to say he hadn’t been in contact with anyone!! Not only is this immoral but surely illegal?

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    1. hodge

      Simple. Their boss is an estate agent and has no idea of employment law, health and safetey or risk. They sell houses, simple as that.

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      1. AtomicPea

        As a “Boss” you have to know about employment law, you cannot simply hold you hands up and say “I don’t know”. There is so much guidance around this subject that the only answer is that they are ignoring it.

         

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        1. Palmtree1

          I think there is an element of they do know the employment law but they are such a bully they try to get away with it.

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      2. Palmtree1

        He is exactly just that! A bully too. refusing to let people work from home because they can’t apparently! However they managed to do it perfectly fine in the first lock down. The boss is a controlling bully. 

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  6. majortom1

    the last thing we want is a shut down of the market but those Agents, especially the large corporates who remain open and squeeze staff into branches to gain few sales should hang their heads in shame. And if this current wave of cases continues they will shut it down for the rest of us which is not what any one wants surely.

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  7. AtomicPea

    Whilst our industry guidelines are stringent in terms of physical viewings when we were looking at our staff safety the office environment for me was the single point of failure.

    Viewings have been minimised by only allowing proceedable buyers and then insisting that they initially look at a video tour further weeds out the uninterested parties. When we do proceed to booking a physical appointment the applicant is made aware of our PPE requirements. Only 1 person is allowed to view at a time, we call them on the morning to run through our covid questionnaire and advise again that PPE must be worn which we can, if necessary, provide. Viewings are kept to an absolute maximum of 10 minutes, we wear facemasks, gloves & shoe covers and insist that the viewer does the same. We provide PPE if they do not have their own and staff are instructed to abort the viewing if the applicant refuses to wear the PPE. Viewers are instructed not to touch anything and we open cupboards, doors etc for them. Windows are opened prior to the viewing and we stand outside a room when a viewer enters. We sanitize our hands both before and after the viewing and finally sanitize anything we have touched when we leave. All of the above makes this far safer than wandering around a supermarket where people have no idea on social distancing.

    Getting back to the office environment, as I said this was my single point of failure. Staff can wear masks all day if they wish but they are still breathing in the air produced by up to 6 people at any one time. I also do not believe that social distancing in an office is possible. Staff touch things too that others touch that you wouldn’t even consider sanitizing, kettle switch, fridge handle etc etc. All in all we felt it better to have staff work from home and not make physical contact with one another. There is a huge concern for us about people’s mental health so we are constantly Zooming as a team and ensuring that there is some routine for our guys.

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    1. AgencyInsider

      Good on you for doing what you have done – and recognising what you cannot control. I’d rather work for you than some of the gung-ho ‘virus? what virus?’ muppets who post on here.

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    2. julianodell

      Thank you AtomicPea (wish I knew who you were so I could cite you on my management training sessions as an example of how to lead a team in challenging times). You have restored my faith in the industry to some extent. I’ve been in the estate agency world as practitioner, owner and trainer for 38 years and am married to someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable and who is terrified that with our local hospital being rammed with Covid sufferers, she may not be able to be treated if she has a life threatening change to her health. People just can’t seem to join the dots as to the wider impact of their gung ho behaviour. Of course we aren’t helped by erratic leaders who issue woolly rhetoric and relax rules in an effort to be everyone’s friend (Quelle surprise that Christmas resulted in record cases in January…who’d have thought it?). I’m bewildered, disgusted, embarrassed and furious about some of the attitudes and behaviours of certain individuals and businesses within an industry I was once so proud to be a part of. Short term risks in business practice to help the virus continue will surely lead to a longer, harder period of challenge if the economy suffers. After all, mass unemployment will only create huge problems in the property market further down the line. Sad and frightening times.

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      1. AtomicPea

        Thanks Julian, I operate a 4 branch independent in areas you know well, St Neots, Huntingdon, St Ives & Biggleswade. Appreciate your comment.
         

        Report
  8. Russell121

    I would suggest that these companies and bosses who are acting like unsympathetic idiots are and have always been that way. When the time comes vote with your feet. Don’t tar us all with the same brush.

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  9. James White

    It is clear that we have a very diverse spread of opinions on here over this topic since Christmas.

    Stay safe everyone; and try to be nice.

    Some of the commentators on here have shown a complete disregard for the safety of their staff, or empathy towards those with worries or those that have been affected.

    Carma awaits you.

     

    (If you believe in that sort of thing).

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    1. Dick Value

      Karma awaits you’, is that some sort of threat?

      Report
  10. LetsGo

    Think this quote sums up the type of agent they have asked

    “We even open Saturdays for just four hours and the phone never rings we are just sat in the office for an extra day for nothing. I have asked for Saturdays to be scrapped just for lockdown, but they said the opening times are on the door”

     

    Hhmm, yes if the phone isn’t ringing maybe you should try calling out!

     

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  11. CountryLass

    I have been doing viewings on an empty property this week. Usually, they would be booked in 10 minute gaps, and if people turned up a bit early or late it wasn’t a huge issue. No, I have booked them in 15 minutes slots and told them they will have 10 minutes in the property to allow me to sanitise before the next one. They are told if they arrive early, they will have to wait until their time slot, if they arrive late, they will have to wait until then end, or someone else doesn’t show up. If everyone turns up and I have to go to another appointment in a different property, meaning I can’t show them round at the end, they will have to rebook.

    I carry disposable masks with me, as well as gloves, and offer sanitiser before they enter. I stay as far away as I can, usually waiting downstairs whilst they look upstairs as it is harder to keep distance on landings and stairs.

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  12. SoldPal90

    Talking about irresponsible owners – a competitor of ours had a Christmas party in the office and asked all their staff to sign disclaimers beforehand…..I know, it beggers belief!
     
    All of them squeezed in the same room.
     
    As if they thought the disclaimer would stand up in court if somebody had dropped dead…..
     
    Now that is thick as the proverbial……

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    1. Dick Value

      Going to put this in the ‘never happened’ category.

      Report
      1. SoldPal90

        You know what – I can get that.
         
        You perhaps need to cast your mind back to where we were prior to Christmas, we were all about to enjoy the 5 days of Christmas and folk were feeling rather confident about progress.  A number of locations in the UK enjoyed Level II restrictions.
         
        Anyway, It’s 100%.
         
        Have a good weekend!

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  13. AlwaysAnAgent

    I hope all of my competitors willingly close due to Project Fear. I’ll gladly hoover up their business while operating within law. We’re in competition, after all.

    I’ll continue to operate safely and within the rules. My staff are fine and are some of you really this afraid that hiding under the duvet is the only viable option?

    Reading some of these comments one might think that agents are confused, neurotic and completely unaware of the law.

     

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    1. SoldPal90

      As my old dad used to say – ” You want to stop watching that square box in the corner of the room sunshine, it’ll be telling you what to think and do next”
       
       

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  14. jeremy1960

    I have absolutely no idea why people feel that offices should be open an staffed. I have 3 staff,we have email and mobiles, the public should not be entering our offices! We are doing viewings on empty property only,  open up, step aside etc. We have a key safe for collection of keys, we simply email the code to the contractor the night before. Staff visit the office to collect post or use a desk/ printer etc but we have a WhatsApp group to ensure that we know when anyone is in the office. It’s not rocket science,  we just adapt.

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    1. Getthatbread1

      Agreed, if it can all be done from home then it should be. Viewings can be conducted if they must but that does not require an office full.

      Some offices are not even taking online applications, they are having to have people in the office to fill out forms. Ridiculous at this time.

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  15. BestInTheRoad28

    Its still shocking how many people wish to view before they are even on the market. It’s a pain in the backside in normal times but its just getting ridiculous at the moment.

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  16. WatfordAgent

    It’s quite obvious after reading the comments that the larger, corporate agents are thinking about £££ and the smaller independent agents are thinking about staff. It was always going to be this way.

    Report
  17. majortom1

    Times headline this morning

     

     
    Covid variant may be more deadly than original

    Report
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