The Department of Housing has approved in principle operating guidelines for the property industry to return safely to work.
The draft protocols outline how buyers and sellers of property can transact safely once lockdown restrictions are eased and were issued on Tuesday to property service providers to observe in tandem with existing Health Service Executive social-distancing guidelines.
With the industry almost at a standstill since mid-March, estate agents, valuers and auctioneers are targeting a back-to-work deadline of June 8th based on the lockdown easing roadmap staying on course, and the joint industry guidelines outline how the return to work can be managed safely.
Property viewings of new and second-hand homes are likely to be most impacted by the restrictions with the new protocols recommending the following:
- all viewings and auctions to be undertaken online, where possible
- a maximum of two people per property-viewing party and no children under 16
- detailed Covid-19 signage and hand-sanitation facilities to be in place
- pre-booked viewings only of 15 minutes’ duration, with cleaning procedures to be carried out and details of same recorded in advance
- once-weekly sanitisation of showhouses in new homes schemes
- owners of second-hand properties to vacate premises during viewings, leaving all doors and storage areas open (to minimise contact points) and agree in advance with the selling agent contact points for sterilising between viewings
The draft guidelines compiled jointly by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers and the Property Services Regulatory Authority were submitted to officials in the Department of Housing earlier this month and on Tuesday the department approved the circulation of the guidelines to members of the representative bodies.
The proposed measures apply to providers of auction, sales, lettings, valuations and property-management services for both residential and commercial property. Appropriate safety training will be mandatory for employees, and where viewings are being arranged in second-hand dwellings or commercial buildings the property professional will need to confirm whether prospective clients have returned from travel abroad or have had symptoms of Covid-19 over the previous 14 days. If so, the property service cannot be provided for a minimum of 14 days.
Auctioneers will be required to announce HSE guidelines before auctions and strict protocols will be applied to the handling of goods pre-, during and post-auction.