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Tummy grumbles aside; the Prime Minister’s message in last night’s address to the nation was clear: tougher measures are inevitable if the spread of coronavirus remains at the current rate.

I know the protection of civil liberties is what our nation is known for, and I am proud that we live in a society where freedom of speech is coveted – however common sense has to prevail. The wearing of face masks, washing of hands, sanitising surfaces and practising social distancing are key to ensuring that we reduce infections, break the cycle and avoid either a full lockdown or even a third wave.

We are being asked to summon our resolve and help avoid the predicted rise in daily cases by mid October which are likely if, as a nation, we fail to adhere to the restrictions that come into force this week and that could be in place for anything up to 6 months.

Inventory providers, small businesses owners and those in operating within the lettings industry will understandably be concerned about the impact these measures will have on their business. However, tenant moves, property reports and visits are still able to continue and agents can manage their bookings online though clearly we all need to be aware of how to navigate the measures put in place. Common sense is needed to put into practice clear protocols and help avoid the pandemic becoming more than it already is.

And if you really think about it; much of the current guidance hasn’t changed. We already have protocols in place to minimise transmission of the virus, reduce contact at the property and when collecting / returning keys. One significant change for letting agents is that they will be expected to wear masks while working in their high street offices to both protect themselves and their clients though many have already adopted these practices and to good effect. With office workers being told to work from home where possible, effective systems and the ability to outsource reports using Workstreams to reliable and vetted suppliers will be paramount in the weeks and months to come.

The new restrictions will depend on where you are in the UK and any local variances. England, Scotland & Wales all see a nationwide curfew on Pubs, Restaurants and Bars, as well as being advised to work from home wherever possible. The requirement for face coverings has been extended to retail workers and for the general public within hospitality sectors in some regions, as well as more limits on household mixing and limiting group numbers dependent on the area. In addition to the nationwide restrictions there are further localised restrictions in a number of areas across the UK so it’s vital to check what applies to you in your area. 

This is a fast paced and ever evolving situation so it’s crucial from both a personal and professional aspect to always ensure you are following the latest guidance and rules. Boris Johnson’s message last night is that we need to now think more about how our individual behaviour impacts on the wider society in relation to socialising, attending public spaces and workplace requirements.

More information and updates on UK rules and restrictions can be found here. 

So as property professionals & providers of property reports, risk assessments and associated reports, what should we be doing now to ‘play our part’? My advice for inventory professionals and the wider supplier industry is to revisit your current protocols and make sure that the new restrictions are factored into your services.

Ask yourself:

Are they compliant with the current advice?

Check against Government advice and guidelines and ensure they are communicated effectively and quickly to all staff, self employed clerks and contractors that you work with.

Are they robust enough to ensure the safety of your clerks, your clients and all those that you and or your team come into contact with?

Health & Safety is your responsibility as well as the people you work with regardless of whether they are employed or self employed so ensure that your risk assessment is up to date and reflects the current situation.

Are you clients and team members aware of their responsibilities under both Health & Safety and the current COVID-Secure requirements?

Let your clients know how you will be managing any changes to your current protocols and procedures and follow up with an email to ensure that you can prove your compliance should you be asked.

Do you have enough PPE and is everyone aware of how to both use masks, sanitize hands and dispose of used items safely?

Check that your supplies are adequate for the needs of your staff, team and don’t forget to ask if your contractors are equally prepared.

And, as a business are your intentions clear as to how to ensure their compliance?

With any procedure or protocol you should revisit them regularly especially as the current situation is so fluid. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a full on compliance document; often a protocol communicated clearly and then reinforced with a call to the client, staff or team member will be enough to ensure everyone is on the same page.

We are known across the globe as a nation with a can-do attitude and steely resolve to overcome and react when times get tough and to quote a very well known and respected pillar of the property industry; John Paul, Managing Director, The Castledene Group says:

“The attitude you have in adversity or when times are tough, says so much about you as a person.
Tough times don’t last, tough people do always springs to mind when things like this happen.
Quickly adapt and move, the quicker you come up with a solution to the problem you will:
1 – Be ahead of the problem, it then has to catch you not the other what around
2 – You are ahead of the competition
3 – You protect your staff and business from issues and problems
Use situations such as this to build an unbreakable business”

Wise words indeed!

Resources and guidance are available within our Covid-19 Hub for inventory professionals and letting agents on safety, best practice and beneficial features for working in our industry in this new normal.