The majority of letting agents think their working conditions are unsafe, according to a new survey.
More than 70% surveyed by the Property Redress Scheme, as part of its Covid-19 back to work letting agent survey, said they did feel safe to return to work.
The findings of the study, released by the Property Redress Scheme, also reveal that just over a quarter - 26% - of letting agents in England anticipate they will not have every employee return to work before September. This includes 13% who feel they will still have employees on furlough in October.
Overall, 66% of letting agents in England anticipate they will still be using the government’s job retention scheme beyond July.
Somewhat surprisingly, the survey shows over 40% of agents are still yet to open their doors to the public, over a month after the government said agents in England can reopen.
“It is not a question of safety,” said Sean Hooker, head of redress at the Property Redress Scheme. “Over 70% of people we surveyed said they did feel safe to return to work and that their employers would provide PPE. This therefore suggests agents are worried about the market’s ability to bounce back post-Covid-19.”
He continued: “Whilst we have seen some encouraging signs of a market recovery, agents clearly feel we are far from out of the woods yet. Many feel the biggest impact will be felt in the medium to long term as companies announced redundancies and unemployment rises.
“Perhaps agents are also worried about how they will cope with adjusting to the ‘new normal’. Our survey showed that 75% of agents will be conducting either virtual or a mixture of virtual and physical viewings going forward, but only 20% of agents said they offered virtual viewings pre-Covid-19. This is a seismic shift in the reliance on technology in an industry that has so heavily relied on building relationships face-to-face in the past.”
The extension of the evictions ban and the uncertainty of the student market is also weighing heavily on letting agents’ minds, according to Hooker.
He added: “We wanted to see how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected letting agents and what lettings will look like in the future. That is why we ran our survey. The results have been very interesting and we plan to provide our members with guides and advice to help them with any issues highlighted in the survey over the next few months.”