COVID 19 Policy & FAQs
In-line with Government guidelines, surveyors and other professionals in the property and construction industry are able to leave their homes for work purposes, where it is necessary to do their jobs. We have adapted our day-to-day practises to ensure we are working in a safe and Covid secure way. All Brasier Freeth colleagues are working from home when not carrying an inspection, viewing or valuation.
With the above in mind, the Brasier Freeth policy for employees during this latest lockdown is as follows:
- Staff should now only attend our offices under exceptional circumstances such as collecting keys, post or files. This is to be pre-arranged and approved.
- Meetings should be conducted virtually.
- Property inspections and viewings can go ahead but only where this can be done safely. Making appropriate arrangements in advance is necessary and if the situation upon arrival seems unsafe, the inspection or viewing needs to be terminated. Maintaining a two-metre distance at all times, wearing a mask and using hand sanitising should all be adhered to. It is vital that the health and safety requirements of any activity must not be compromised. If an activity cannot be undertaken safely and in accordance with the Government guidelines prevailing at the time it should not take place.
Whilst on-site the below protocol is to be adhered to:
- Maintaining a 2-metre distance at all times. Where possible, viewings and inspections should be un-accompanied. Wait outside during viewings where this is practical.
- Washing hands for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitiser immediately upon arrival on-site.
- Both Brasier Freeth staff and third parties to be wearing a mask at all times. We have provided all staff that need to be on-site with appropriate PPE.
- Keepings a detailed log of those attending meetings, for the purposes of track and trace.
- Staff and visitors should not attend the site if they have any Covid19 symptoms, are self-isolating or awaiting test results.
Retail & Leisure Agency team
Q: I am a tenant and have a shop lease; do I have to pay the rent?
A: Under a lease obligation you are obliged to pay, however there may be ways of restructuring the terms of your lease agreement, to provide financial assistance. One of our surveyors would need to review a copy of your lease to advise on how best to strategically approach the Landlord. The ’’Government Code of Practiseor commercial property relationships can be found here.
Q: I am a Landlord of a retail unit and have a Tenant who is not paying the rent, what can I do?
A: The remedies for Landlords have been limited to a large degree due to the Government moratorium on evicting Tenants. The relationship between a Landlord and Tenant is essential in developing an open dialogue to discuss the issues arising from non-payment of rent. Conversations we have been involved with have tended to centre around the question of whether payment arrangements can be structured in partnership, in order to share the financial burden arising from current market conditions.
Each situation will be different depending on individual circumstances, particularly in relation to lending/funding facilities. There is no doubt however that real benefits often come from open and transparent conversations.
Q: Are Business Rates payable at the moment?
A: At present it you are a tenant and would normally be open for business if it were not for the National lockdown, then business rates are not payable for the 12 months from the 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2021. This relief has been put in place by the Government to support business in the UK. It applies to retail, hospitality or leisure properties. We are awaiting news on whether this will be extended beyond the end March 2021.
Some properties are also eligible for discounts from their local Council, whilst others are exempt. The Business rates revaluation for 2021 has also now been postponed. Please contact us for further details.
Q: I am thinking of taking on a new lease this year, what protection is available in the event of future lockdowns, which prevent me from being able to trade?
A: There is no statutory law that has been passed to safeguard against future lockdowns and as such any agreement would be down to mutual negotiations with your Landlord.
We are seeing that Pandemic clauses are becoming more common in leases, based on a myriad of wording including drafting on local Council regulations and also social distancing. Some clauses cover named pandemics such as Covid19 or SARS, whereas other are more generic. We have been involved with transactions based on limitations to specific time periods in any one calendar year. In some circumstances, the base rent switch to turnover provisions to deal with take away, click & collect and delivery provisions. Pandemic clauses may well need to drafted bespoke to individual organisations and specific circumstances. As a result, strong working relationship between the respective parties is essential, with a thorough understanding of the business model.
Please contact Anthony Appleby to discuss any of the above or similar questions you may have.
Office & Industrial Agency team
Q: Can I view a commercial property at the moment?
A: Yes, provided sensible precautions are taken including social distancing and the wearing of masks. Access to premises may however be restricted by some vendors/lessors or occupiers to protect their business and health. These restrictions must be respected under current circumstances but video and 3D walkthroughs may provide another means of getting an idea of how a property works. Please refer to our protocol, outlined at the top of this page.
Q: Will I get a better deal due to Covid19?
A: This will depend on the type of property, the tenure and the location. Some sectors (such as logistics) have barely missed a beat since the pandemic occurred whilst others have stagnated but have not seen drastic changes in terms as yet. Some adjustment to reflect difficulty in occupying due to lockdown is possible, but this is likely to be time limited and insubstantial in the Office & Industrial sectors. Once the pandemic has lifted and the new economic and property demand landscape is evident, we may see an acknowledgment that terms need adjustment but this is likely to vary by tenure, sector and location.
Q: Can I get a rent concession from my Landlord because of lockdown?
A: The direct impact on business operation of the pandemic in the Office & Industrial sectors has been limited and, in some instances, even positive. Because use of offices and warehouse premises is not prohibited by law (and never has been during the pandemic) Landlords have been slow or reluctant to consider giving rent holidays but have in some instances changed payment frequency or deferred rent payments to help tenants with cash flow. This is dependent on the circumstances of the Tenant and the Landlord (who may have their own cash flow issues). Some circumstances may mean a Landlord can and will give a rent concession so it’s getting worth in touch with Brasier Freeth to evaluate your options.
Please contact Peter Brown to discuss any of the above or similar questions you may have.
Building Surveying team
Q: Has COVID affected your turn around times for reports?
No, it hasn’t. We are still issuing our reports within 5 working days of the inspection date.
Q: Can you still survey our properties during lockdown?
A: Yes, we can. We take the necessary precautions and wearing face coverings, wash or sanitise our hands, and we do request the property is vacant or the occupants are in a separate room while we conduct our survey. Please refer to our protocol, outlined at the top of this page.
Q: Has COVID19 caused delays in construction work?
A: Construction workers are still able to work during lockdown. The delays we have experienced have been with the supply of materials rather than the workers. However, with advanced planning these delays can be mitigated.
Q: Can the Landlord still claim for Dilapidations even though we are suffering a pandemic.
A: Yes, the Landlord can. The resolution of the Dilapidations claim may be different, as a result of Covid19, and you should still seek expert advice to resolve your Dilapidations Claim.
Please contact Paul Raitt to discuss any of the above or similar questions you may have.
Q: Are the Banks still lending?
A: Yes, we continue to receive instructions from a wide variety of Banks and other lending institutions.
Q: Are you currently able to undertake internal inspections?
A: Yes, but ideally unaccompanied and with premises vacant. Valuers will wear appropriate PPE during all inspections. Please refer to our protocol, outlined at the top of this page.
Please contact Steve Oakey to discuss any of the above or similar questions you may have.