OPEN LETTER: Agents are not only putting themselves at risk, they are also putting their staff at risk

During lockdown EYE received numerous communications from agents venting their anger at some of the apparently unsafe behaviours they were witnessing being carried out by competitors.

By their nature the accusations were hard to prove as they amounted to hearsay, so we refrained from publishing.

Now that the market is open again readers may find the more general views of Paul Endacott, who started 1st avenue 16 years ago, to be interesting.

Open Letter to Letting Agents

I’m furious.

I’m also deeply disappointed in many of my industry peers that are flouting both the government guidelines and ARLA’s guidance on viewings because they have failed to get themselves ready to restart with contactless viewings whilst the industry was closed for business.

My staff are feeding back that prospective tenants are out doing speculative physical viewings without a virtual viewing first, pre-referencing their financial situation or are ‘serious about making an offer’.

These agents are not only putting themselves at risk, but they are also putting their staff at risk and the people they go out and meet.

This attitude is regrettable and sends out mixed signals to prospective tenants that it’s ok to go out and physically view a property, not to mention it dilutes the actions and behaviours of letting agents who are holding up the torch for doing it properly and following the rules.

This bears out just by looking at property portals, most adverts have no virtual viewing available.

Last weekend I stopped past many estate agents offices in my local market (from the outside of course) and there was little in the way of social distancing between staff, random people were walking into offices with no mind from the customer or staff to keep 2 metres apart, let alone take details as the law says we should in case we need to trace them back to help stop a 2nd wave.

Doing the job properly isn’t easy, and the answer isn’t physical viewings as a default position and those agents that do are putting their wealth before the health of their staff and patrons.

My company set up early using the grant money we received from the government to invest in a Matterport camera so we can produce a 3D twin of the property we’re renting so tenants can walk around the digital twin as if they were physically there.

We book in via Calendly and link it to our Zoom accounts and then share our screens and conduct viewings this way.

Staff have gamer headphones, LED ring lights and green screens so we can do it all professionally from the desk without putting anyone at risk.

Tenants can be at home or in Timbuctoo for all it matters, it doesn’t.

Viewings on the fly at the customer’s convenience, not ours. It works.

We are back to normal and tenants are signing up without even conducting a physical viewing until after referencing.

Then, there were the agents that flouted those initial lockdown rules too.

The number of tout letters I saw from agents proclaiming they were still open and sticking the boot into agents that had done the right thing and closed, and I saw many.

This was skullduggery at it’s highest, punching their peers in the gut for adhering to the rules and putting anyone prepared to break lockdown to go and view a property.

Is it any wonder that as an industry we only just rate above lawyers as the most disliked of people?

Our industry is better than that. We must be better than that.

The future of lettings is changing and if you are one of those many agents that claim to ‘be different’ or ‘innovative’ then now is your chance to actually get a viable USP.

Like us, finding a new way to work, look after your clients, closing deals and do it safely from the desk.

Granted we will all be eating salad for the lack of getting up and going out, but this is the new normal.

Get on board or get left behind.

Paul Endacott


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  1. JustPlainSavage04

    There is nothing wrong with physical viewings in the first instance as long as the property is empty and you are wearing the correct PPE and keeping distance.

    I feel Paul needs to stop worrying about other businesses as no matter what situation we are in, their will be ones not following the rules, virus or not.

    If you are using your common sense and doing things properly, don’t worry about next door?

    Seems like a waste of time and effort this letter to me.


    1. Breaking Dad

      Therein is the problem.  Agents that do not follow the rules.  How can we as an industry show responsibility to the people we work with, for and represent if we do not work together with the same rules?  ARLA is clear about how you should do your job, it sounds like you are one of those that think the rules do not apply to them.

      1. JustPlainSavage04

        Good luck with trying to get all agents follow the rules, you will be fighting a never ending battle.
        As for your assumption with how I do business, that is your opinion which your entitled too.
        This is your chance to shine as an agent if others aren’t following the rules.
        if you forever worry about others, in life or business, you will never move forward.
        all the best and stay safe Paul!   

  2. leelee30

    We sent the prospective tenants /Buyers a virtual viewing, but within minutes they are calling back to insist on face to face viewing. as there is nothing wrong with physical viewings as long as the property is empty and you are wearing the correct PPE and keeping distance and the viewers are asked to so the same go no further cross contamination.
    We are using your common sense and doing berthing we can to protect Staff and Customers.
    Our problem is people are not keeping to the rules, even the postman now trying to drop off letters onto the desk when a wall of chairs block away 8m distance to the staff.
    People are not social distancing and we have to keep the to the guidelines for them.



    1. Breaking Dad

      Just because tenants are insisting, it doesn’t mean you have to cave in.  Explaining the law is a part of the sales process and you might be wearing PPE but you are putting prospective tenants at risk by making them travel.  You need to drag your mindset and business into the post-COVID world.

  3. JWVW

    We’re all entitled to our own opinion. I happen to think Paul has some perfectly valid points, but also seems to be slightly shooting from the hip. Over the past 2 or 3 weeks, I have not seen a single local agency business that hasn’t been acting in the most professional manner and taking health and safety matters very seriously.

    1. Breaking Dad

      Glad to hear.  Certainly here in London, agents (including major ones) are flouting rules.

  4. Propertyman556

    Sounds like Mr Endacott is a bit bitter that his rivals are busy, and he has nothing better to do on a weekend than go and sit outside other people’s offices rather than worrying about his own company (and the staff he employs) Perhaps his stance on not allowing tenants to physically view a property before putting in an offer is the reason why!

    Virtual viewings were fine for the tenants when there wasn’t another option, and I am sure that this will still appeal to a number of them going forward. But I am personally seeing a lot of activity from those who were not willing to put down a holding deposit without seeing the property in person, and now the restrictions are lifted they are expecting to be able to do this, as is their right.

    The guidelines are pretty clear, we are open for business, but need to be safe with PPE etc.

    1. Breaking Dad

      I’m not bitter.  I’m angry that my peers aren’t acting responsibly.  As I wrote, we are super busy and what we are doing is working and we do not need to go out until we are much further down the lettings process, i.e after referencing.  
      You cannot be a business owner, because if you were you’d want to know what your competition was doing.  This is basic business 101, I am worried about my business and I also want to know what everyone else is doing because knowledge of what your competitors are doing is vital to survival and success.
      It’s up to us as an industry to actually stand collectively by the rules, and when tenants are getting the same answer across the board they soon realise that they can’t get us to flout the rules.  

      1. Propertyman556

        Actually I am a business owner, not that it matters. Basic business 101 is actually to not worry about your competition, get your own house in order and make sure that you are providing a fantastic level of service so that business comes to you. There are enough transactions for everyone to win, sitting outside people’s offices to try and catch them out is a waste of time, time which would be better spent on the front line with your staff or in your business making a difference.

        I found your comments rather interesting yesterday, so I made a call to your London office when I had a spare 5 minutes between appointments. To be honest I just didn’t believe anyone would be so naive as to not be conducting appointments in a safe manner.

        Readers won’t be shocked to hear that the lovely lady I spoke to said they were more than happy to allow me to view a property, as long as it was vacant or the tenant could arrange to be out. I made excuses and said I would call back to arrange.

        Looks like Mr Endacott doesn’t practice what he preaches and as I originally thought was just after a bit of exposure.



        1. JW

          Ha ha! I choked on my coffee laughing at this!  Glad to know that the News of the World investigative team are still at it. “I made my excuses and left”….!!

  5. surrey1

    Virtual viewings have been almost entirely a waste of time as tenants and buyers still want to physically view before committing. As always, Covid 19 or not, proper qualification beforehand filters out most of the people who shouldn’t be viewing anything.

    It does appear the general public are largely unbothered by ppe though although good at social distancing. I suspect the government’s general mishandling of this at every turn has left most of us with the feeling the horse has bolted and will now just apply their own common sense.


    1. Breaking Dad

      Common sense isnt common and this stance only encourages people to flout the rules put in place to protect them

  6. Joseph60

    It is unfortunate that some accuse others of not acting within the rules, sometimes with very little evidence.  A local agent accused us of doing physical viewing at the start of lockdown, on someone else’s say so, very publicly on linkedin.  It was completely untrue!  Everyone needs to stay safe, and we are conducting viewings safely, with full PPE, and social distancing.  Our view is that whilst virtual viewings are available, most customers want a physical viewing before making a final decision.

    1. Breaking Dad

      like many of the unfurloughed I’ve been working 8 days a week since March holding it down and I’ve gone out of my way to find out what my competitors are doing.  I havent named anyone publicly, but the rules are there and we all should obey them and ask how can we do what we need to and stay safe?  PPE is not the immediate answer as most people dont even know how to put it on and take it off.  Agents flouting the rules leave themselves open to possible legal action from their employees.  It turns out that as an industry, we’re not that bright.

  7. smile please

    Sounds to me Paul should concentrate on his own business rather than run others.


    I wonder how high his horse is?

    1. Breaking Dad

      This is me concentrating on my own business.  This is business 101.  My horse is pretty high, thanks for enquiring.

  8. Eyereaderturnedposter12

    There is one element of the letter that has confused me slightly…and this is the dig at your unnamed competitors.

    “Stopping past” other agencies (?).

    Could Mr Endacott enlighten us as to how long he spent outside each of these agencies, and how (from the comfort of his car, assuming that he was driving “past”, possibly assess that staff weren’t maintaining 6ft distance (through two windows [that of his car, and that of an agency in question] and presumably from a distance of at least 20/30ft)?Furthermore in passing, how many walk-in clients could possibly have been noted. Noting perspective and light refraction can mislead the mind as to what the eye may think it is seeing.

    I’m sorry to say, but this letter does come across as self-righteous, bombastic and somewhat unbelievable (or at the very least, exaggerated for the purposes of self-promotion).



  9. Woodhen

    I would like to know how so many Agents managed to get so many Video Tours done etc without visiting the property in lockdown when visits were classified as non essential travel and should not have been carried out. Unfortunately the Industry is still full of Spivs “wink…wink we can get round that…you no what I mean” and this epidemic has brought them to the fore.

    1. Eyereaderturnedposter12

      Like our firm…I would imagine the vast majority of videos have been created by willing Tenants. Most of whom have been more than happy to produce and send to our offices.

      1. Woodentop


  10. Woodentop

    Frustrating isn’t it when you close and comply with the guidance and others don’t during lock-down. You are not making any business/money, while others do. It is not surprising that at least one agent will shout out and those that object to his observation should take along hard look in the mirror. Who is kidding who! Not only have these agents been flouting the rules (we have one in our town) trying to be hygiene free of Covid-19 is a shambles and still many people do not follow the safety guidelines.


    The virus does not move, people move the virus and is why it is all over the country and refuses to go away.

  11. ARC

    Gosh it appears that Breaking Dad has been broken.


    As an industry we only just rate above lawyers as the most disliked of people

    Really ?

    1. smile please

      We rate much higher 😉


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