CHARLES DARROW COVID-19 POLICY 18/05.2020


In accordance with government guidelines we ask that you read the important points below relating to several aspects of our working policy.

Charles Darrow:  Covid-19 Office Guidance

As we return to our workplace, the most important fact is to ensure we continue to safeguard our staff and clients.

In order to minimise the risk of a second wave of the virus and a further lockdown, we have made changes to our processes, our working environment and how our team operates.

The following sections outline how we have achieved this.

People

Premises

Appraisals

Viewings

Compliance with AML

Summary

People

We will check on the health of our staff. We will have a one-to-one with each member of our team to establish they are ‘healthy’ to return to work (when they do) and complete a “health assessment” assessment with each of them.

As part of our meetings, we carry out a daily check-in within our teams to ensure no health conditions have changed.

Premises

We will have prepared our offices. When our teams return, we will accommodate the 2 -metre social distancing rule, this may mean fewer desks or workstations to allow this to happen. Each agent is now in a separate office and support staff members (expected to be back off furlough in September) will be in the office when the agent is out on inspections / appraisals.

We may mark out the floor space to allow any customers or visitors to keep to the two-metre rule and we will limit the number of visitors to one party of two at any one time. Wherever possible we will meet visitors in our ground floor reception area rather than the office itself. The board room will not be utilised as it is a small room and we will undertake an appointment only schedule – with all customers required to confirm they are wearing appropriate PPE.

 

We intend to keep face-to-face contact to a minimum and where possible, our staff will work side-by-side with a minimum two-metre distance between them, rather than facing each other.

We have purchased an ample supply of hand-gel and anti-bacterial wipes, these are readily available on each desk for staff and visitors to use.

If the flow of visitors to the office increases we will have a regular cleaning routine throughout the day and notify all staff to vacate when we start the cleaning process. This will include: desks, chair arms, keyboards, mouse, photocopier controls, drawer handles, phones, mobile phones, key cabinets, filing cabinets, door handles and card machines where we take card payments. We have undertaken a deep clean and will do so on a rolling basis.

We will also encourage staff to wash their hands with hot water and soap more frequently than before and ensure supplies are stocked up in the washrooms.

We may keep the front door locked so that we can control the number of visitors, this will provide extra assurance to both our team and anyone visiting.

The business owners will lead by example and keep social distancing measures in place at all times. This includes when conducting meetings, preparing refreshments, visits to the lavatories and allocating lunch breaks, all of which will be staggered.

Appraisals

Our business is people focused and requires interaction with sellers, buyers, landlords, tenants, and contractors to name but a few. How can we provide a safe environment for all concerned?

We will continue to provide video viewings and valuations. We also offer Facetime style “live” viewings / appraisals to enable us to conduct these tasks virtually.

Where a face-to-face meeting is required, the directors will consider the request first and then approve if deemed necessary. Remember, this is a two-way process so please make sure you disclose to us any symptoms when we ask you, in the same way that we would ensure that anyone we send to your property is free from such symptoms. This is designed to reassure everyone involved. All staff have been advised to never attend a valuation appointment if they are feeling unwell and will be following all government guidelines.

Where we do conduct an appraisal, we will respectfully avoid any handshaking or physical

contact, keeping our two-metre distance, and wear protective gloves. We may use face masks if recommended by the government, and of course will, if these are made mandatory.

We will demonstrate all our marketing via digital resources rather than leaving any documents at your property, all of which will be followed up by email.  We will keep any face-to-face contact to a minimum and respectfully decline any coffees/refreshments you may be kind enough to offer.

When we return to our vehicles after each appointment, we will safely dispose of our gloves and use hand-gel to wash our hands. We will also wipe down any equipment we have used during the visit.

When we arrive back at the office, we will wash our hands with soap and hot water before we do anything else.

At the end of each day and after our last appointment we will give our steering wheel, gear lever, handbrake, and all controls a wipe down with anti-bacterial wipes.

Where we receive an instruction to list a property, we acknowledge that all other aspects of our legal obligations are still in force.

EPCs can continue to be provided if no COVID-19 issues exist and the assessor operates in accordance with Public Health England guidance.

Viewings

We will make full use of our virtual viewing tools and only arrange full viewings where the individual is genuinely interested in the property.

We will always carry out the health-check on viewers intending to visit the property.

We will establish who will be attending the viewing and limit the number of people to no more than two at any one time.

Where possible we will ask the occupants and their family to vacate the property for the duration of the appointment, and we will do our best to limit the time spent at the property.

If the property is occupied, we will check on the health of the seller and all those in residence before arranging the appointment.

Where a physical viewing does takes place, we will respectfully avoid any handshaking or physical contact and remember to keep our two-metre distance. We will wear protective gloves and avoid any paper documents. We may use face masks if recommended by the government and of course we will do so if these are mandatory.

As our agent will be wearing protective gloves, only the agent will be permitted to open doors to show potential buyers and tenants the rooms and storage etc.

When we return to our vehicles after each appointment, we will safely dispose of our gloves and use hand-gel to wash. We will also wipe any equipment we have used during the visit.

If the property is vacant and we are using a key, we will wipe the key when it is taken from the key cabinet, wipe it after the viewing and again before it is placed back in the key cabinet.

We will never travel in the same car as anyone else, always meeting viewers at the property.

Compliance with AML

AML:

We are still required to confirm the identity of sellers and buyers, and landlords and tenants in some cases. This should be completed before a business relationship commences.

Using our own AML platform we are able to action an electronic search if that is the only check required. If we do need to take actual documents, the requirement is that this is completed where we can see the individual and the document at the same time – we will wear protective gloves when handling paper documents.

We will ask if you have certified copies which you could supply as evidence of identity.

If customers are visiting our offices, we will complete the health assessment before they are permitted into the office. If they have previously done so, we will check there has been no change.

Any face-to-face visits in the office will only be undertaken where two-metre social distancing can be adhered to.

HMRC have not provided any provision where none of the above is possible for health reasons, therefore, we suggest that we arrange a Facetime or Zoom style meeting to see both the individual and the document. In this case we would like you to scan across documents and we will clearly certify the method of testing we have used and the reason why.

As soon as possible, we will then arrange a face-to-face inspection and update our records.

Our Money Laundering Officer will always sign off any request to proceed on this basis. This will only be used as a last resort and we would have to proceed with caution on any high-risk individual. If we are in any doubt, then we cannot proceed with the business relationship. We would have to refer to our Money Laundering Policy, keeping a clear note of all cases so that we can review them once restrictions are lifted in full.

Summary

It is our intention to demonstrate a safe way to return to work, servicing our clients and colleagues  with health and safety as our primary concern. We welcome any further suggestions and will continue to review this policy to ensure it remains stringent. We thank you for doing business with us and appreciate you working with us under these new ways of operating during this unusual period.

Please confirm you have read and understand the above.

Thank you for your co-operation.