For many inventory clerks, the news that the housing market can continue to operate has been a welcome relief. In some ways, it provides a much needed ‘sense of normality’ – if that is even possible at the moment!
But as we near the end of the first week of Lockdown 3.0, there is concern building amongst some providers and suppliers as to whether all parties involved in the lettings process are able to keep everyone in the chain safe.
We all deserve to work in a safe and secure environment however with the rise in infection rates, government restrictions and an increased concern around mental health & wellbeing; some are struggling with their need to work and the risks posed by the new strain of the virus.
As news of the latest lockdown broke; a poll highlighted that up to 68% of agents questioned whether keeping their offices running is the right thing to do when an estimated 1 in 50 people are testing positive. However; there are many reasons why people still need to move, especially if they are key workers or considered vulnerable. Not every situation is straightforward and clear cut and with the need to keep the economy moving; a balance has to be drawn.
The issue of financial support is also of concern – for many smaller limited companies this is non existent, and excludes many more businesses in the industry. As most, if not all, inventory clerks work from home, the need to ‘keep calm and carry on’ is less of a choice and more an absolute necessity if they are to remain afloat. And whilst there are some discretionary grants available, the majority are aimed at those with rateable premises which are not usually held by self-employed providers or smaller businesses.
Sián Hemming-Metcalfe – Head of Training; InventoryBase Academy says:
“Although the government’s guidance and overall message to remain at and work from home where possible is clear; inventory clerks can only complete core reports (inventory and check outs) within the property. Because of this need; there are some within the supplier industry who feel that their safety is not seen as a priority,”
One particular comment by an established clerk is that there seems to be a resistance to waiting 72 hours before entering after a check out, or expecting clerks to attend an inventory straight after cleaning. There is also a worry that inventory clerks may be seen as unhelpful if they insist on following their protocols.
Sian adds: “The housing industry is made up of more than just letting and estate agents; it is underpinned and supported by a whole range of specialists, suppliers and providers so we all need to work together and offer support in these challenging times. And whilst, as an industry, we continue to operate, the worries over the risks and safety of working in and around property are valid. There is a real need to address those concerns and increase the support offered both by the Government and our industry bodies.”
Inventory clerks are very aware of the need to follow Government advice on home moving during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. However, the fact that they have to be in the property, touching some surfaces, opening doors and cupboards to be able to complete their report places them in a very difficult position. Often they are not aware of who has been at the property and whether anyone has been unwell or tested positive for the virus.
Sian says: “ I would urge inventory clerks and suppliers to keep COVID protocols under constant review and ensure they are communicated to clients and agents. Follow government advice, adjust your working practices and make sure you understand who else may be present when carrying out the report so you can make informed and safe decisions”
InventoryBase and InventoryBase Academy has produced a number of guides and articles within the InventoryBase Covid-19 Hub to offer help and advice around continuing to work safely throughout the pandemic.
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