Staff at one of the country’s best known agents are foregoing commissions as their business tries to navigate the coronavirus crisis.
Others are voluntarily taking unpaid leave or a salary cut.
Simon Gerrard, past president of the NAEA and managing director of the 55-year-old business Martyn Gerrard founded by his father, slammed the Government’s “disregard for the agency sector”.
He has informed Zoopla and Rightmove that he will no longer be paying their fees and said many of his 130 staff have chosen not to take commissions this month, while three of the ten landlords for the brand’s branches have granted requests for a rent holiday for the premises.
Gerrard said staff have been asked to either not take commission, to take unpaid leave or a salary cut
None have taken unpaid leave yet but some are foregoing commission and accepting a lower wage, he said.
Gerrard said there was no talk of redundancies and added that directors also are not taking any income.
There is no set period for these measures but he expressed hope that there will be government help for the sector, including support for salaries.
He told EYE: “Businesses have to prepare to have nothing to 25% of their income.
“You have got to maintain staff as that is what will help you survive.
“You would be surprised at the response we have had from staff.
“When you are on a boat and in a storm you have to strap yourself to the mast and hope you get through to the other side.”
Gerrard insisted he was confident his agency would survive because of the actions he and his staff have taken.
He said: “It is a case of getting by right now and keeping staff happy.
“This has brought out the best in a lot of people. I have been moved by the reaction of staff.
“It is a rapidly moving situation and we have to maintain the business.”
Gerrard said referrals were still coming through but said these were just “bored people sitting around at home”.
He said: “No one can go out to viewings and who is going to buy a property virtually?
“We can’t complete on properties if someone is in isolation.
“I have told suppliers such as Rightmove and Zoopla that I can’t pay them.
“A lot of people we do business with need to take a longer-term view.”