Aston Brooke Solicitors is a reputable law firm based in Harrow, Middlesex. We have been serving our valued customers for over a decade by providing high quality, bespoke legal services such as Conveyancing, Litigation, Immigration and Wills & Probate and more. In light of the current COVID-19 outbreak, we are proud to be at the forefront of providing our customers with up to date news and advice on regulations regarding COVID-19. We will update our information regularly as per instructions from the Government.
As well as changing our social abilities, the current corona virus outbreak is also impacting the property market and how transactions are progressing. This can be an unsettling time for small or large estate agencies. Aston Brooke Solicitors believe a pro-active approach is key to tackling issues head on. We have issued the below guidance to help assist you, your staff and your customers to continue in their property search while keeping safe and well.
We understand that due to the current lock down, and offices being closed, it may be difficult to carry on with your line of work from home. However, we are optimistic that whenever the government decides to ease the restrictions, you can prepare the office to ensure you are working in a safe and protected environment. We have set out some of the measures you can consider to ensure maximum health and safety for your staff:
Office Layout – You can consider rearranging the layout of the office to ensure that the staff desks are two metres apart as per government guidance.
Installation of Protective screens – If the office floor space is not large enough to ensure the two metre distance between desks, you may wish to consider installation protective screens or barriers between the desks with a smaller gap. These protective screens can also be installed at the front of the desk particularly if there is a reception desk to protect your staff against customers.
Working from home – For members of staff who are particularly vulnerable, you may wish to offer the alternative to work from home. Alternatively, for those who are less vulnerable and attend the office, you may wish to stagger work start times and lunch times.
Training and Risk Compliance – It is important to ensure your staff receive regular training on the risks of fraud and bogus enquiries at this time. We would recommend you carry out additional risk compliance and ensure open communication with your staff so they are comfortable to inform you of any concerns.
Warnings and Signs – You may want to display warnings for customers not to attend the office or any viewings, if they are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus or they have been in contact with someone who has had the symptoms. You should also display signs how to clean commonly touched areas and provide hand sanitizers to reduce the risk of spread- ing any bacteria.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – You may consider that PPE is to be worn at all times by your staff. This will not only protect your staff but also any customers who they come into contact with. Please note this may need to be provided by your company. It is important to also ensure that there are extensive cleaning measures in place and PPE is worn at all times when any area is being cleaned.
If the restrictions of lockdown are soon eased, you should have prepared health and safety guidance for your customers and how you intend to keep them safe. This may ease hesitation of new sellers and buyers and help them feel more comfortable when attending viewings and the office if necessary. Some of the measured mentioned above will also apply to keeping your customers safe and therefore the below is in addition.
Vigilance and Cooperation – Be wary of vulnerable clients, including those who fall into a higher age bracket, those who are less able and those who are pregnant. You may wish to offer alternative methods of communication such as telephone, email or video link and discourage from attending the office.
Communication – You should keep open communication with your customers to keep them updated with your company’s measures to protect health and safety. If any members of staff are feeling well, they should not attend the office and ensure they self isolate.
Offer Alternative method of viewings – Currently, the public health guidance is that no physical viewings are permitted. Until the restrictions are eventually eased or lifted, you may wish to increase the number of professional photographs of the property at different angles. Alternatively and perhaps more effectively, you could offer 3D visual viewings or viewings by video link. It is advised that you choose which method to use and prepare your action plan on how you will facilitate physical viewings in the future.
Safety measures during viewings – This may include insisting your staff and the customers wearing appropriate PPE when attending the viewing. You should also encourage the seller to ensure they have disinfected the property as much as possible, guidance can be found at: the disinfection article https://astonbrooke.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/-Covid19_Decontamination.pdf Another suggestion would be to limit the number of buyers attending a viewing, and perhaps asking the property owner to leave the property to reduce the number of people in one room.
Aston Brooke Solicitors are still taking on new matters and proceeding with exchanges and completions in the most safe and effective way for all parties. We are confident that by helping and guiding each other in this difficult time, we can continue to provide exceptional service for our clients while keeping safe. For further guidance on how you can help reduce the risk of coronavirus and the effect on your service, you can visit: