Housing minister Chris Pincher has confirmed that estate agents including sales and lettings agents are ‘not currently classified as key workers’.
This definitively answers one of the key questions that have been asked by many people working within the industry during the Coronavirus crisis, particularly letting agents who have argued that looking after vulnerable tenants and ensuring properties are properly maintained and that safety standards met are ‘essential tasks’ that make them key workers.
Pincher confirmed this was not the case as he replied to a written question from MP Neil Coyle, Labour MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark.
“Estate agents are not currently classified as key workers. All estate agency workers should [do their jobs] from home wherever possible to support their existing clients, and follow government guidelines on hygiene and social distancing,” said Pincher.
But Coyle’s question was also directed at another issue that has reared its ugly head during the crisis – agencies who ask their staff to continue doing viewings or working from within branches, even if they are closed to the public.
“I know of two estate agencies which have been completing viewings in recent days,” says London estate agency founder James Lee Pendelton.
And two weeks ago MPs from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, revealed they had received ‘distressing emails’ from employees at one estate agency who had been told they were categorised as key workers by their bosses and told to go on viewings.