Estate Agents And Property Viewings During Covid-19
Commencement of employment
According to the advanced level 3 Lockdown Regulations, and as of 1 June 2020, commercial and residential Estate Agents were able to commence employment. However, emphasis has continuously been placed on the importance of workplace health and safety procedures.
Guidelines for Property Practitioners
As a result of Covid-19, there has been major concern as to whether Estate Agents may request in person viewings of property and meetings, as well as the general standard of conduct. A further concern is whether there are any guidelines in place to ensure that such viewings are lawful and protect landlords, current lessees, sellers as we well as potential purchaser and lessees.
Estate Agency Affairs Board
The Estate Agency Affairs Board of South Africa (EAAB) has implemented A guide for Estate Agents on how to conduct business under Covid-19 (the EAAB Guidelines). The EAAB Guidelines have been brought about to ensure that all persons are adequately protected and to curb the spread of the virus, but also to assist the Estate Agents in continuing with their daily tasks.
Many Estate Agents have incorporated the EAAB Guidelines into their current policies within their companies to ensure additional protection and a safe business environment. Further to this, Estate Agents must ensure that:
- education policies and procedures relating to Covid-19 are in place;
- medical screening is conducted on entering and exiting the office;
- it responds appropriately when a case has been exposed; and
- offices are disinfected and rehabilitated.
Meetings with Clients
According to clause 8 of the EAAB Guidelines, the EAAB states that meetings with Clients should be conducted via telephone or any other electronic means available in order to limit contact and prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The EAAB Guidelines set out requirements in terms of clause 8.2 for property viewings by a buyer or tenant. The EAAB Guidelines state that any viewing of property should be done virtually, and a physical or in-person viewing should only be done when a purchaser/tenant expresses a definite interest to a particular property.
The Estate Agent must ensure that all persons viewing the property are wearing masks, and that there is proper and adequate ventilation on the property.
The Estate Agent has a further duty to maintain a database of all potential clients and keep a record of any symptoms of potential clients and whether there has been any contact with a potential client a person who has been diagnosed with Covid-19.
Current tenants on the property
Where necessary, current tenants should be advised not to be present at the property at the same time as the potential client. Should it be impossible for the current tenant to leave the property, the current tenant should be encouraged to remain in another section of the property in order to limit contact.
Further to the above, the current tenant shall be required to provide the Estate Agent with the required consent prior to the potential client being brought to view the property.
It should be noted that physical viewings should be kept brief, and social distancing measures should be obeyed at all times.
Potential clients viewing the property
Estate Agents must provide potential clients with safety protocol information prior to viewing the property, and all potential clients must agree to and adhere to these protocols at all times.
Should a potential client refuse to sanitise on entry, such client would not be allowed access to the property.
Both Estate Agents and potential clients must ensure, that where possible, neither party shall touch surfaces, or objects within the property. Should there be any accidental contact, Estate Agents must ensure that they carry their own sanitisers and wipe any surface which has been accidentally touched.
Furthermore, no more than 2 (two) potential clients are allowed to be taken into the property at one given time in order to maintain compliance.
In the event of non-compliance with the EAAB Guidelines, the Estate Agent may be subject to internal disciplinary enquiries and potential penalties in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993.
This article is not intended to provide legal advice. This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. This article is based on research regarding the EAAB Guidelines and may be subject to change. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE).
For further information, please contact Rajaram Mvulane Attorneys at email@example.com