RICS: Decline instructions if there is too much coronavirus risk

Surveyors must assess the risks around coronavirus when arranging a valuation and should decline an instruction where it is deemed unsafe, RICS has said.

The policy forms part of guidance issued by the trade body on physical inspections.

It said valuations can be done remotely in certain circumstances but condition-based reports will require a physical inspection and must follow the social distancing and public health guidelines.

RICS said members should check if any home owners have coronavirus symptoms or are in an at-risk category and should also ask if the property can be vacated during the inspection.

They should also consider the health and safety aspects and any relevant current Government advice in relation to travelling to the property, accessing the property, carrying out an inspection and delivering the service.

RICS said: “If it is not possible to inspect the property safely to the extent required to provide an opinion of value and/or condition on a restricted basis, it may be necessary to decline the instruction.

“If the instruction is accepted, any restrictions to the inspection need to be recorded, agreed where appropriate and highlighted in the report.

“Where possible, a disclaimer should be included in both the terms and conditions and the report relating to any errors or omissions in the report caused by any inability to inspect relevant areas.

“RICS professionals and RICS regulated firms should always consider their safety and the wellbeing of their employees in their decision-making process.”

Another RICS guidance document on anti-money laundering (AML) and bribery risks urges firms to consider whether they or their clients are more susceptible to financial difficulties or other pressures, thus creating risk and potential weaknesses for criminals to exploit.

It asks firms to watch out for being asked to work with unusual customers on unfamiliar types of work or resistance from potential customers to comply with due diligence checks.

RICS said its members can take ID information from a client using video streaming or scanned information but this must be verified such as by using notarised copies or electronically.

The guidance said surveyors can rely on estate agent AML checks if they are confident about the quality of the information.

Paul Bagust, global property standards director for RICS, said: “RICS professionals and regulated firms have a duty of care to ensure services can be delivered safely, and people can shop, work and live safely post COVID.

“RICS’ guidance builds on that provided by Government and will support and protect both professionals and consumers.

“It will ensure that the built environment operates safely and securely for all those involved, and that it operates very much within a practical, and common-sense approach.”

Access the guides here.

 

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