COVID-19 Policy as at 24 March 2020

Platinum Properties remain committed to ensuring the safety of all of those with whom we work and working within government guidance whilst trying to minimise any disruption and provide essential services wherever possible. As we provide an essential need, housing, we have slightly more flexibility than some at this time and we are taking guidance from our professional bodies, The Guild of Property Professionals and ARLA|Propertymark as we issue this guidance and try to navigate through this difficult period.

Our Offices & Staff

It is with a heavy heart that, for the first time since opening the doors of Platinum Properties, we now have to close them. As part of these measures I have had to take the difficult decision to suspend the employment by way of furlough of Carly Hayward, who needs to concentrate on home schooling her daughter at this time, and Lauren Brown, who does not have the facilities to work from home.

All other staff (Jade Woodruffe, Sophie Fordham, Alycia Steggles and myself) will remain working from home, however, as you can appreciate, without so many appointments to attend to our workload will be limited. At this time we have taken the decision to shorten working hours from 10.00am to 2.00pm each day to allow them some flexibility.

Whilst at home all staff have complete access to our systems and phones which were portable and have been taken home for use, therefore there should be minimal disruption to our service between these times.

We will monitor the situation moving forward and update you accordingly as things change.

I look forward to the day when we all return together again.

In the meantime please try to direct your queries to the relevant staff member as follows to allow us to deal with any queries efficiently;

Alycia Stegges – 01353 883701 – alycia@platinumpropertiesely.co.uk Enquiries, application processing, tenancy renewals, safety checks, invoice processing and support to property managers.

Sophie Fordham – 01353 883704 – sophie@platinumpropertiesely.co.uk Property Manager for Cambridge, Newmarket and Soham areas dealing with final inspections, queries and maintenance for tenancies in these areas.

Jade Woodruffe – 01353 883702 – jade@platinumpropertiesely.co.uk Property Manager for Ely, Ely surrounding villages and North Cambridge Villages (Milton, Cottenham, etc) out to Huntingdon dealing with final inspections, queries and maintenance for tenancies in these areas.

Maria Morgan – 01353 883700 – maria@platinumpropertiesely.co.uk Banking, virtual tours/photos, policy and procedure management, active renovations, property transfers from other agents currently underway, troubleshooting, move ins and staff support and management as necessary.

The main number 01353 664728 will ring all staff members as a group. The email contact@platinumpropertiesely.co.uk will be diverted to Alycia and Carly and Laurens emails will be diverted via Maria.

Everyone is in this together and it is important that, during this time, we show each other the necessary respect to work quickly and efficiently to provide you with assistance. I (Maria) ask that you avoid being rude or confrontational to myself and my staff. We understand emotions are running high and we are committed to doing all that we can to help.

Viewings

All viewings will be suspended. We have virtual tours of each property available and these will be sent to anyone enquiring about a property. We thank all of the current tenants that have, very kindly, for being hugely accommodating of us in achieving this. Maria will complete new virtual tours or photographs on empty houses as necessary with the same precautions as in place for inventories, etc.

Move Ins

Move ins that are already scheduled will continue. We complete all work digitally in the main anyway in this respect already which will be handled by Alycia. When move in pack/key handover is to happen Maria will attend site to meet with new tenants outside the property with a sterilised move in pack and suitably sterilised keys which will be exchanged at a safe distance.

Move Outs/Final Inspections

Will be completed as booked at this time given that properties will be empty at the time we attend and we are not required to meet anyone on site. All staff will be provided PPE in the from of gloves, wipes, hand gel and disinfectant sprays to complete this.

The BAR (British Association of Removers) are also advising removal companies to complete booked works at this time.

Where current tenants cannot move at this time please do contact your Property Manager, as detailed above, so that we can make the necessary provision to extend your tenancies accordingly and re-arrange current arrangements as necessary.

Inventories (and updates)

As per final inspections.

Property Visits

All property visits are suspended moving forward.

Contractors/Maintenance Works

Only emergency/essential works (predominantly gas/electrical) will be completed on occupied homes whilst the government restrictions are in place.

Where these type of works are required the engineer will give you a time of attendance. They will ask that you leave the door on latch and they will call out from the doorway at time of arrival to announce themselves. They will attend wearing the necessary PPE (gloves and mask) and will have anti-bacteria wipes/sprays to hand to ensure they clean down as necessary.

When booking appointments contractors will carry out a risk assessment which may include asking if you have travelled overseas in the month prior to the appointment, if you have any symptoms of Covid-19, whether you have been in contact with anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 or whether you have been advised to self-isolate. Where these is a risk contractors will be unable to attend and you will be advised on an individual basis as to the plan moving forward if they are unable to.

Contractors are still attending empty homes at this time, however, this is subject to their supply chain moving forward.

If you need to cancel an appointment for a contractor to attend the property please give a minimum of 48 hours notice. This minimises the current impact on their lives and business, allowing them to be there for us when needed once the current pandemic subsides.

Rent

The legal position on rents has not changed and they remain as per the terms of the tenancy agreement and will accrue as usual, however, for households genuinely experiencing hardship during the pandemic the government are urging landlords and tenants to work together by communicating effectively to minimise the impact to all parties as much as possible and have put in special measures to allow time for this to happen and some flexibility.

If you will experience problems making payment it is important that you contact your Property Manager, see above, so that we can send you further guidance as to the next steps in this respect to try to find a short term resolution in the hope of minimising the effects for all concerned.

We strongly recommend that, if you are affected, you contact your local benefits office to discuss the possibility of a claim for universal credit or one-time hardship payment. If you have life/illness insurance cover you should contact your insurer and those tenants who are self-employed should contact the Coronavirus Helpline for the Self Employed on 0300 456 3565 or speak with their insurer accordingly to see if there are provisions for interruption of work within their policy.

Rent Guarantee Insurances

We have spoken with our insurers to clarify the position.

Landlords with rent guarantee can make a claim for any unpaid rent, however, please bear in mind that you need to report non payment of rent immediately when it occurs in order for your claim to be valid and will need to follow the full advise of your insurer in relation to how they deal with the matter thereafter (which, we suspect, will be following the natural legal route when possible at this time). Please also be aware that once a claim has been made against a tenancy you will not be covered/paid out on any further claim against the same tenancy/tenants.

All new policies have a 90-day exclusion, therefore, if you are choosing to take out rent guarantee insurance now you will be unable to claim should rent go unpaid within the first 90 days of the policy being active. Please note that some insurers have placed a hold on offering new cover at this time.

If you are interested in Rent Guarantee insurance, we are happy to refer this to our insurers, Saffron Insurance, but it is important to bear the above in mind.

Please be aware of the current government guidelines surrounding the current pandemic as follows;

Symptoms of Covid-19

  • Dry cough
  • High temperature/fever
  • Shortness of breath

How to Protect Yourself from Covid-19

  • Regular hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Using hand sanitiser gel regularly
  • Cover your mouth or nose with a tissue when coughing/sneezing or sneeze into your elbow
  • Put used tissues in a sealed bin as soon as possible
  • Avoid close contact with others who are unwell
  • Avoid touching your face

What to do if you think you have Covid-19

  • Remain at home and self-isolate
  • Do not visit your GP or hospital
  • Use the NHS 111 online Corona Virus service for further advice
  • https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19