UPDATE 2ND FEBRUARY 2021
As we know the COVID 19 pandemic is a dynamic situation, with various mutations of the virus occurring the latest ones being those named South African Variant and Kent 2. These mutations, according to media reports, are suspected to be both more infectious (70% more appparently) and possibly a higher mortality rate.
As such, bearing this in mind, we feel it’s now appropriate to review and revise our inspection policy and going forward we will be reviewing how our inspections proceed. If a property is and has been vacant for some time, then it will be considered a lower risk and as such inspections will occur as normal (adopting safe working practices as appropriate to the situation). If however a property is occupied, then the Vendor will be asked to vacate the building during our inspection. If they choose not to do so, then our survey may not take place (this decision being taken based upon a dynamic risk assessment by our surveyor and his decision on such being final). We will continue to notify Vendors/occupiers of our policy, either directly where their details are provided and/or via their appointed agents.
I’m sure you can appreciate the reasons why we are increasing our measures which are intended to help protect our staff, those we interact with and the population in general.
If you are a Vendor reading this update, then please note the comments and download a copy of our policy by clicking the button below.
If you are a client reading this update, then please note you are choosing to move home in the midst of a Pandemic and it is our assumption that your move is compliant with Government restrictions on moving home. Moving during this period increases the risk that a survey may not occur in the timescale you wish and/or that a Surveyor may not be able to gain access to the property as planned, cancellations may therefore happen without notice e.g. a Surveyor arrives at the property to find access is not considered safe or possible for reasons beyond their reasonable control. This is a risk you accept when moving home at this time.
COVID Policy V5 (click to read document).
UPDATE 5TH JANUARY 2021
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday whereby he stated that England will effectively enter a National Lockdown (Tier 5). Having reviewed the guidance we are pleased to repot that moving home and by default Surveys can continue. We are, however, reducing the volume of work undertaken to reflect the increased risk of virus transmission and will continue our inspections based upon our COVID Policy V3 (click to read document).
We are, however, reminding clients and Vendors that moving home at this time is riskier and that there is a higher possibility that our inspection may be postponed/rescheduled/cancelled at short notice, for instance if our surveyor is unable to gain access to the subject property for some reason related to the virus or otherwise. This is a risk you must accept and by accepting our terms & conditions of engagement you confirm you are happy to proceed on this basis. To date we have only encountered ONE situation where access was not provided, the appointment was rescheduled for outside the quantine period and has since concluded.
Thanks again for your kind support during these difficult times and we hope your move goes well, but more importantly that you & your family remain safe.
UPDATE 27TH DECEMBER 2020
At Midnight on Boxing Day (26th December) The Govt. confirmed that certain areas would be moved into Tier 3 or 4, including Hampshire (excluding New Forest) but including Southampton. We regularly monitor the Govt. Guidance can can report as follows.
Moving home IS PERMITTED in all Tiers. However we continue to adopt our safe working practices and as such will continue our survey inspections until we are unable to do so. We have, following latest guidance, updated our COVID-19 inspection policy, a copy of which can be found here:
Thanks again to all clients, estate agents and vendors for your cooperation and continued support during these difficult times. Remember, this too will pass.
On Sunday 31st October the English Govt. announced a 2nd National Lockdown beginning on Thursday 5th November 2020. Having reviewed the guidance it seems home sales can continue as before and to date we have seen nothing to suggest that Surveys of residential properties should not proceed as they have been over the intervening period since the last National lockdown. it’s business as usual, almost.
In line with the Govt. Guidance and industry practice, our Surveyor will adopt safe working practices whilst in other people’s homes and businesses, including wearing PPE such as a face mask, we are finding that some Vendors prefer our surveyor not to wear gloves and as such we are happy to amend our policy to incorporate their preference. Our surveyor does, however, ensure that hands and equipment are regularly sanitised in any event. Vendors are made aware of our policy (which is attached to this message), in advance of our inspection, and agree to the inspection taking place on that basis or as we agree at the time of inspection. We try, as much as we can, to be flexible with occupiers of properties at this most stressful of times.
Of course we are living in a rapidly changing world and things can change quickly. At present, however, it’s business as usual i.e. as it has been over the last 6 months or so. Should things change, we will endavour to keep you informed via this website.
We are, however, totally reliant upon Estate Agents and Vendor’s to facilitate our inspections, a system which to date has worked very well for all with minimal impact upon our ability to inspect properties as normal. That said, the wearing of a facemask can impede a surveyor’s ability to notice odours whilst on site and this is something which is unavoidable in the circumstances.
Upon arriving at an occupied property our surveyor will explain, before entering the building, what is going to happen and once entering the property transfers responsibility to the Vendor, i.e. it’s their property so it’s their rules once our surveyor enters the building. We see this as very much a ‘team’ effort, i.e. we will endeavour to work with those present in a building to ensure the survey is undertaken in accordance with normal procedures. That said, should our surveyor feel that those present are not acting in a safe way, they may mention this to those concerned in the hope that adjustments can be dynamically made on site to enable the inspection to conclude in the normal way. Should a property occupier refuse entry, perhaps due to them recently testing positive for COVID-19 say, then our surveyor cannot enter the building and in such an eventuality will discuss next steps with our client. This is, unfortunately, a risk our clients must accept when instructing a survey in these uncertain times.
To date our systems and processes, which were created at the outset of the 1st National Lockdown, have worked well and we’ve not experienced any significant problems undertaking inspections or gaining access to properties to conclude our inspections. We continue to monitor the situation and Govt. Guidance and will endeavour to update our clients as to any significant changes to our situation via this website.
AN EXTRACT FROM THE GOVT. GUIDANCE IS PROVIDED BELOW
Surveyors and EPC assessors
Surveyors and EPC assessors are free to visit properties to carry out surveys. Surveyors should follow the latest government guidance for working in other people’s homes.
Where surveys are carried out, all public health guidance on social distancing must be followed. Companies should ensure employees understand how to operate safely and communicate this to customers.
- Surveyors and assessors should contact the owners of the property to be surveyed prior to the survey or assessment to make sure they understand which areas will be surveyed and ensure that all doors and access panels are open and surfaces have been cleaned with household cleaning products in line with public health advice. During a visit, members of the household should follow social distancing guidance, staying 2 metres away wherever possible, for example by staying in another room.
- No work should be carried out by a person who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild or anyone who has been asked to self-isolate
Rather than washing of hands in another person’s property (which is not always feasible), our surveyor will sanitize before entering the property and is happy to do so again at a property owner’s request (using their own products as requested and if considered safe to do so) or wear disposable gloves if that’s the preference doing so before the inspection commences. A link to the Govt. Guidance is provided here: CLICK TO OPEN
These are VERY challenging times, rest assured Castle Surveyors Limited are working hard to ensure it’s ‘business as usual’ and to help our clients purchase their dream home.
Many thanks for your kind instruction. We hope you and your family stay safe & well.
Wayne Norcliffe FRICS FCABE
On behalf of Castle Surveyors Limited
PLEASE NOTE: The information in this post is provided for guidance purposes only and you should not rely upon this to inform your decisions. We recommend that you take advice from the Government as to your personal situation and use that to inform any decision you make. This article, along with the information provided within, is to merely inform our clients and those we deal with of our general policies which may change over time. We recommend you visit the relevent Government and/or Local Authority website as necessary to keep informed as to the most up to date situation and how it could impact your decisions. Castle Surveyors Limited accepts no liability whatsoever in respect of any action taken as a result of your having read or relied upon the information provided above and should you do so you do so at your own risk.