This article was originally published on 20 May 2020. Although we endeavour to keep our coronavirus (COVID-19) content as up to date as possible, the situation is rapidly changing, so please ensure you refer to gov.uk for the latest advice and information.
“While I know lots of agencies stopped letting completely [during the lockdown], we still feel that people need a house,” says Chris Toynbee, Director at Redmayne, Arnold & Harris. “People need to be able to move where they have no other choice. If we can get them in, we will - particularly if the houses are empty.”
“On our last Friday in the office, we sent our agents out to do loads of videos and get as much information as we could on our properties so we could continue to advertise,” says Toynbee. “People can just have a look at the videos, instead of going through a physical viewing process.”
This approach has allowed Redmayne Arnold & Harris to receive viewings and offers on properties remotely - but being on site at a property is unavoidable for the final stages of the lettings process. “The move-in process is a bit trickier, particularly to try and stay in line with the government guidelines,” says Toynbee.
The agency had to think outside the box to find that balance between helping with necessary move-ins, while keeping tenants and agents safe. “It's just a case of being creative, while ensuring that we're not going too far. For example, we have one move-in tomorrow, where there happens to be a key safe at the property, so we can leave the key,” says Toynbee.
“Our agent will sit in the car while the tenants pick it up and go into the house. To make sure that they do get in, we’ll ask the tenants to take a photo of the key and send us an email to confirm that they’re in the house and everyone’s happy. We’re still trying to do our job - but staying in line with the guidelines.”
If a property isn’t vacant and has closer overlap between move-out and move-in, the process is similar - but longer. “We’ve had an example of people moving out, and others wanting to move in within a couple of days but we extended the void period between the two, leaving us time to get the property properly cleaned,” says Toynbee.
Even the key drop off for the departing tenant is carefully executed, avoiding any face-to-face meetings at the office for the exchange. “We can still socially distance, asking the keys to be pushed through the door of the closed office. We’ll then go and collect them the following day,” says Toynbee. “So the whole thing's stretched a bit and made a bit more tricky. But if we can still facilitate it so that people can move out or move in, if they need to - we’ll do our best to do that.”
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