New guidance on face coverings for agents working in branches, and for those dealing directly with visitors, was issued at the end of last week.
A statement from NAEA Propertymark – the industry body for estate and lettings agents dedicated to promoting the highest industry standards – said:
Over the last two weeks, Propertymark has been seeking clarification on whether the Government’s requirement for customers to wear face coverings when entering shops in England, extends to branches of estate and lettings agents. We are aware that in the absence of updated guidance, there has been widespread speculation from industry commentators.
While agents offer professional services akin to solicitors and accountants, many offices are based in high street locations and are currently benefiting from a business rate discount designed for retail businesses.
Having worked towards clarity with Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government on this, Propertymark is now in a position to update members.
In line with Propertymark best practice guidance, estate and lettings agents should only be welcoming visitors on an appointment basis and when all other methods of communication have been exhausted. It is not necessary for agency staff to wear a face covering while sharing an office with the same group of people and social distancing. However, when dealing with any type of visitor, any member of staff in proximity should wear a face covering. Visitors to the office should also be asked in advance to wear a face covering.
A protective desk shield can be used in place of a face mask as long as it covers the area sufficiently and is being cleaned regularly.
Propertymark continues to promote the importance of both clients and agents wearing personal protective equipment on every visit to a residential property.