Health and safety checks are not just for an agent’s office, but for their listings as well. This is according to Paul Offley, Compliance Officer at The Guild of Property Professionals, who adds that while rare, there have been cases where people have been viewing a property and injured themselves, which has resulted in them putting forward a claim against the agent.
“Just as an agent would do a health and safety assessment of their office, it is good practise for agents to also do an assessment at each of their listings to firstly ensure viewers’ safety, and secondly to prevent any potential claims as a result of a potential accident. Ideally, this assessment should be done as soon as an agent takes the property on. Many agents now get the seller to confirm as part of the terms of business that there are no health and safety hazards within the property that could potentially either impact the members of the agent’s team or anybody viewing the property. If there are any hazards, the agent should ask the seller to declare those to them,” Offley advises.
He notes that over and above what has been declared, an agent should also have a look around the property themselves, paying specific attention to any potential hazards. “Inside the home this could include aspects such as low doorframes where someone could easily knock their head as they are walking through, stairs that are particularly steep or are missing a handrail, and uneven surfaces or rotten floorboards. Externally, things to look out for include swimming pools, open wells, or any area where someone could trip or fall. If there are any hazards, make them known to anyone who is viewing the property, this way you are doing your best to help keep everyone safe, as well as reducing the probability of any potential claim against either you as the agent or the seller,” says Offley.
He adds that while many may think it unnecessary, as it should be down to common sense to avoid hazards, there is more to it than that. “The reasoning for a risk assessment and having health and safety measures in place at the property is to ensure that the agent is doing their best for the people they employ, as well as the people viewing the property. It also contributes to the overall service the agent provides to the vendor,” comments Offley.
“As an agent, in your terms of business consider the clause regarding a health and safety check. In addition, when you have a property on the market where you are conducting the viewings yourself, make sure you have some kind of risk assessment in place that outlines anything about the property that the viewer need to be aware of, and before you start the viewing have a quick look around the property to clarify whether there is anything else that needs to be brought to the viewer’s attention,” Offley concludes.