Covid-19 Policy

During the Corona Virus Crisis, Polecat Properties will still be operating from home with a skeleton staff. Our office on Western Road is due to open on 1st June assuming that guidelines do not change.

We will be taking all phone calls and handling all emails, and ensuring all our clients, tenants and potential clients receive the best customer service possible during this time, whilst observing government guidelines and restrictions.

Hopefully one of the following frequently asked questions will answer yours.
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Vendors/ Buyers:

Will viewings be carried out?
During lockdown all our staff have been training in making video tours. So for every property we have on our books we will make a video tour of. All interested applicants will be sent the video in the first instance. Anyone who is seriously interested based on the video will be allowed a physical viewing. The viewing will consist of one member of our staff and one member of the interested household, no children or partners will be allowed on the viewing. We will also carry out checks on all those attending ensuring that they should not be self isolating. We would strongly advise that if you are seriously interested then you come on a physical viewing. Virtual viewings offer a good supporting role for looking at property but I wouldn’t advise offering after just seeing a video of a property. You may find a property different in person to how it comes cross on video and this could cause problems and inconvenience for all parties involved further down the line. Any viewers are advised to bring their own hand sanitiser for use immediately before and after the viewing.

Can you provide Valuations?

At this stage we are still recommending that where possible valuations are done virtually. We are able to provide valuations via e-mail if the details of the property are provided and photographs of the property are included. We may need to include a video call to have a better look around the property to ensure that our valuation is as accurate as possible. If you would like us to carry out a valuation in person we are allowed to do this under government guidelines but social distancing much be observed. It is advised that the homeowner waits outside whilst the agent looks round the property.

Can you list my property?
Assuming that an online valuation has occurred, we will ask you to provide all the photos and room measurements for the write up. Or if we have attended the property in person then we will gather this information ourselves. We have retained our memberships with the online portals so we can list your property on the portals and on our website. We will also display your property in our window. We will field all online and telephone enquiries and refer people for virtual viewings as applicable. Government guidelines have stated that people will need an appointment to come into the office, so all details will ask interested buyers to call or e-mail the office to make enquiries.

I had an offer accepted prior to the Corona Crisis, what should I do?
Assuming you still want to proceed with the purchase then there is now no reason why things should not progress as you would normally expect. Discuss with your solicitor. If you believe that your circumstances will no longer allow you to move forwards with the purchase then please call us as soon as possible and we will relay to the vendor assuming that exchange has not occurred. If you are between exchange and completion, then you would need to seek advice from your solicitor.

Can I get a survey?
Yes, the government has given the go ahead for all surveyors to get back to work. RICS will be publishing their own guidelines.

Will my mortgage offer still be valid?
Most are still being honoured, some lenders are asking about a change in circumstances. We would advise talking to your mortgage broker. If your property purchased has been significantly delayed and you are at risk of your mortgage offer lapsing (most are valid for 6 months) then you can contact your solicitor and ask them to a request a 3 month extension from your lender.

Can I move into a new property?
Yes, the new government guidelines state that all moves should go ahead whilst observing social distancing. Removal companies have also been given the go ahead and you should make enquiries with them as to how they are operating under the new guidelines.

Landlords:

Will my tenants still be able to pay rent?
We are working very hard to establish that. We have contacted all our tenants and asked if they foresee problems so that we can get a plan in place early on. We have made all tenants aware of the financial support that is available to try and limit the number of people unable to pay all their rent.

What if my tenant can’t pay rent?
We will ask all tenants that if they unable to pay 100% of their rent, what can they pay. We will try and ensure that everyone pays something. If they are a furloughed worker we will ask if they can pay 80% of their rent for example. All tenants will be advised that any rent that they are unable to pay will accumulate as arrears to be paid back once the crisis in over via an affordable payment plan agreed by all parties.
If you decide that you want to offer your tenants a rental holiday then please let us know and we can pass that on. Please note that our usual monthly management fee will still be payable.

Can I get a holiday on my mortgage?
You will need to speak to your mortgage company regarding this.

Will I still be liable for my management fee if rent isn’t paid?
Yes you will. We are still working very hard on communicating with tenants with regards to rents and dealing with ongoing maintenance and general management. Time spent on your property will be the same if not more than is spent in normal situations.

What if gas safety certificates are required?
Gas safety certificates are still the responsibility of the landlord and are still required and renewed as necessary. We will ensure that our gas engineer is not self-isolating or displaying any symptoms associated with Covid-19. We will liaise with the tenant to check that they are ok for the engineer to visit. If they are not happy for an engineer to visit then this will be noted on the record that all reasonable steps were taken to carry out a gas safety check and that will be enough to absolve you of any potential negligence.

Is the legislation surrounding electrical certs still coming into force?
Yes. The new regulations state that from 1st July 2020 all new tenancies will require the property to have had all electrical installations tested by a qualified person and a relevant certificate provided. For existing tenancies an electrical test will need to be carried out by April 2021. Please note that under these legislations, where one AST ends and either a new one is created with the same tenant or the tenancy rolls on to a periodic a new electrical cert will be needed from 1st July 2020. All details of these regulations can be found here.

Will I be able to serve notice on tenants?
Yes. You can still serve a section 21 in line with current legislation, however during this period the notice period must be 3 months rather than 2. If you served a section 21 prior to the outbreak of the corona virus then this is still valid. However if the tenant doesn’t move out then you will not be able to do anything until the restrictions are lifted as the only people who can forcibly evict a tenant even after a notice has been served are the courts as a result of a hearing and currently all hearings are suspended due to the corona virus.

Will property inspections still occur?
We will not be carrying out routine property inspections at this time. If a routine inspection is due we will ask the tenants to e-mail over some photos of the property.

Tenants:

What do I do if I worried or struggling with my rent?
The most important thing you can do is speak to us or e-mail us and let us know as soon as you think there might be a problem. We can then find a solution that will work for everybody. We will need you to provide proof that you are struggling. This could include
• A letter from your employer showing that you have been furloughed
• A bank statement showing that you have no savings that you could use
• A P45 showing that you have lost your job
We can also help you explore other avenues such as universal credit or the government funding for the self-employed. We will be asking all our tenants that if they can’t pay their full rent that they at least make some contribution. This will help out the landlord and reduce payments on a payment plan once this is over. It is important that you realise that any payments not made now will still be due at some point, even if you then vacate the property. Any payment plan with need to be signed and then added to your tenancy agreement as an amendment.

What should I do if there is a maintenance issue in my property?
This should be reported in the normal way so either call the office number or e-mail kirstywilkinson@polecatproperties.co.uk. All maintenance, even that deemed non-essential is now allowed to go ahead, providing social distancing is observed. Both tenants and contractors will need to verify that they are not symptomatic (i.e. displaying either a fever or a new persistent cough) and the tenant may be asked to vacate the property whilst the contractor is carrying out the work. As the tenant you have full right to refuse entry if you are not happy with the associated risk.

What should I do if someone needs access to the property?
We will first check with you that you are happy for someone to access the property, i.e. a contractor. We will then ensure that neither party is self-isolating. All our contractors are familiar with the social distancing rules and will adhere to these while on the visit.

My tenancy is due to end while the restrictions are in place, what should I do?
If you want to stay at the property, then your tenancy will either roll onto a periodic or you will be given a new AST depending on what has been arranged or discussed with you and the landlord.
If the landlord does not want to renew, a section 21 can still be issued, however the notice period is now 3 months rather than 2 so allows you more time to find somewhere else. If you do not want to renew then let us know and we will go through the necessary steps. The government have stated that all house moves are allowed even if non- essential. We ask that you drop the keys into our office door through the letter box. We will then carry out a check out assessment. Advice states that we should leave 3 days prior to entering a property after it has been vacated to allow any possible traces of the virus to die. This means that it may take longer than usual to return your deposit so please bear with us.

Applicants/ new tenants:

Am I still able to make property enquiries?
Yes, you can still e-mail us or telephone us with your requirements and we will register you on our system and let you know should anything meeting your requirements become available.

Will I still be able to move into a property?
Government guidelines now state that all house moves can go ahead providing social distancing is observed. We will e-mail all the paperwork for you to sign digitally. We will then meet you at the property while observing social distancing to hand over the keys, we will not enter the property, and any subsequent questions regarding the property must be done via phone or e-mail. Th inventory will also be e-mailed to you for you to walk round the property on your own. Our system gives you a time frame of 7 days in which to sign.

How will referencing and I.D. checks work now?
We will ask for you to scan all your documents to us via e-mail. For ID purposes we will need to see a scanned copy of either your passport or driving license. We will then need to set up a video phone call to verify your identity. The government has stated that all ID checks should still be done virtually until further notice

Hopefully this page has answered your question, however if not or if you are still unsure about anything then please call us on 01424 217337 or e-mail us at info@polecatproperties.co.uk

Please note that none of the above applies to commercial property. All dealings regarding commercial property are still in full lockdown.

We will always strive to give the best service possible but safety will always be our priority. Wishing everyone the best in these worrying times and we look forward to seeing you soon.