Easing Back Into It-Guidance for Property Service Providers
1. Conducting Viewings, Inspections or Valuations (Lettings and Sales)
With a lot of preparation and a little patience, conducting a viewing, inspection, or a valuation of a property while under social distancing guidelines is not only possible, but very straightforward. The PSRA (Property Service Regulatory Authority) have set out certain protocol that when adhered to, should ensure the safety of everyone involved in viewings, inspections, or valuations. Simple and straightforward, right? Take a look below at what you should be doing when arranging to go to a property, whether you’re thinking of buying, renting or selling.
Inspections and Valuations (for property owners and potential buyers/renters)
- Agree to a time to hold the inspection/valuation via appointment only
- Agree to whether the property will be empty or not during the inspection/valuation. If not, social distancing measures must be implemented (obviously!)
- Sanitizing your hands upon entering and exiting is a great idea as it helps reduce the risk of infection.
- There are certain extra precautionary measures that should be taken into consideration, such as if anyone is in an at-risk category or have recently returned from travelling abroad. If the latter is in the case of the property owner/occupier, the PSP (Property Service Provider) will not be able to provide the property service for a minimum of 14 days.
Viewings (buying or renting)
All guidelines stated above should also be followed when property owners/occupiers are arranging viewings, whether for renters or buyers, with a few extra noteworthy steps listed below.
- Property owners/occupiers should be reminded of the HSE guidelines, protocols and request any in-house requirements they may have in advance.
- To avoid physical interactions with clients or occupiers, it is a good idea to have the keys/fobs for the property placed in a reliable location for collection.
- All touch points in the property such as door handles, light switches, handrails, bannisters etc. should be noted so that the PSP can sanitize them after each viewing.
- The use of official Covid-19 signage at locations throughout the property can act as a useful reminder that viewers should follow the HSE guidelines-this should be agreed upon prior with the owner/occupier.
As well as the points listed above, the following should be taken into consideration when preparing for a show house:
- 2 metre yellow ground marking to highlight required social distance spacing outside the property or in the common area.
- Cleaning record sheet to be notably displayed in each show unit.
- Consideration of removal of doors to small rooms such as utility, storage spaces or alternatively remove and cap all door handles internally where possible to minimise contact points.
- Doors to general rooms should always be open.
- Windows to be open to ventilate the show unit, regardless of the weather.
If you are viewing a property (buying or renting)
- Pre-book via appointment
- Your name and contact details should be recorded in advance of the viewing.
- No more than 2 people per party and no children under the age of 16.
- Appointments can be no longer than 15 minutes, with sufficient time between each appointment to prevent any potential cross over of viewers.
- All brochures and site plans can be sent to you via email link
- If possible, try not to park close to residents’ cars or driveways by mounting the kerbs or close to an area where children are playing.
- Do not attend the viewing if you are displaying any symptoms of Covid-19
- Remain in your car until the PSP grants permission to enter the property.
What should I do during the viewing (buying or renting)?
- Adhere to the two metre spacing markers
- Do not shake hands or engage in any kind of personal contact.
- Use hand sanitiser upon entry and exit.
- Do not use the toilets-they are not for public use!
- If the property is small, the agent may wait at the entry and allow you to walk around.
- If you have an extensive list of questions, discuss with your agent of the possibility of a video call or phone call meeting to limit time spent in close contact.
What should I do after Viewing (buying or renting)?
- Sanitize hands at the sanitizer station set up outside the property
- In the event of a customer purchasing a property at auction, contract signing must be completed with social distancing taking place. Payment should be by interbank transfer.
- In the event of a viewer agreeing to rent the property, contract signing must be completed with physical distancing taking place.
- Payment by debit/credit card EFT should be encouraged. Cash should be accepted in limited circumstances.
2. Property Management-Property Managers and Unit Occupiers
Maintaining social distancing and following HSE guidelines as a property manager can easily be done, if adhered to correctly. The most important aspect is keeping the two metre distancing rule and maintaining good hygiene though the use of hand sanitizer. Check out the guidelines below on how property managers can avail of these new rules.
- As with the viewings and valuations, Covid-19 signage must be displayed in the common areas. This will remind residents and encourage them to follow physical distancing rules.
- It is a good idea to have contractors to post cleaning checklist sheets in the common areas showing priority cleaning to door handles, elevator buttons, light switches, ledges, post boxes, handles and handrails.
- Common areas such as entertainment rooms unfortunately do not meet the basic needs of residents, so should be closed down.
- Lifts and stairs can be a tricky area, as social distancing can be difficult to achieve. Queuing marks should be placed in lobbies where there are elevators to reinforce social distancing, and if an elevator is not large enough to support the 2 metre rule, consider designating elevators for “up” and “down” use to avoid longer ride times.
- Consider programming elevators to return to the ground floor for faster loading.
- Where a resident has returned from travel abroad or has had symptoms of Covid-19 over the last 14 days, the PSP should identify any necessary precautions which may be required.
- Maintain ongoing communications with owners and service providers to inform them of ongoing practices related to Covid-19 e.g. additional cleaning.
Contractors and Suppliers
- Require suppliers/contractors to share their health and safety plans and new protocols.
- Identify back-up suppliers where possible in case of personnel shortages or supply chain interruptions.
- Property managers should assess whether an impending service request is essential.
- If possible, limit suppliers and or contractors access to a single point of entry in your building.