Live updates from the Property Week team on the coronavirus outbreak’s impact on the property industry. 

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Government to ban evictions and introduce BTR landlord protections

The government is to ban evictions and introduce three-month mortgage payment holidays for landlords whose tenants are struggling to pay rent due to coronavirus.

The package of measures will mean that landlords cannot start the process of eviction for renters in either social or private accommodation for at least the next three months. The measures also mean that the three-month mortgage payment holiday announced on Tuesday for private homeowners will be extended to landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Read the full story here.

Gary Neville keeps hotels open for NHS staff

Footballer Gary Neville has announced two hotels he co-owns will be closed to the public and will only be available for NHS workers this weekend.

The Stock Exchange Hotel in Manchester city centre and Hotel Football at Old Trafford will free up 176 beds for NHS staff and other medical professionals from Friday onwards.

Neville assured hotel staff will be retained and no redundancies will be made, nor will unpaid leave be offered.

He said via Twitter: “It is at this moment in time that the whole of our industry needs to show solidarity, not just for our staff in these uncertain times, but for the people who need the accommodation most in the coming months.”

Hotels offer up beds to ease NHS strain

Britannia Hotels has told government it can offer up to 600 beds across the UK to ease strain on the NHS.

Best Western Great Britain has also revised its statement from yesterday and said it is able to offer up 15,000 beds and more than 1,000 meeting rooms to the NHS staff, care workers, families, low-risk patients and over 70s to allow coronavirus patients to take up much-needed hospital bed space.

Read the full story here.

Major funds cease trading

Leading UK property funds, including Standard Life Aberdeen, Aviva Investors and Janus Henderson have halted trading this week as a result of the coronavirus.

All blamed the coronavirus-caused market volatility for the closures, and said valuers had advised correctly valuing underlying assets was currently impossible. Global markets have been fluctuating wildly, and the FTSE 100 tumbled 11% in the week ending Tuesday 17 March, down to the lowest level seen since 2011.

Read the full story here. 

Chancellor announces industry-wide business rates relief for 12 months

Retail and leisure businesses of all sizes will not have to make business rates payments for 12 months as part of a new £330bn package announced by the treasury this evening (17 March). 

Other emergency measures announced by chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunack included cash grants of up to £25,000 for small to medium sized businesses, and a new lending facility from the Bank of England for small businesses of up to £5m, with no interest paid for six months.

Read the full story here.

Lunson Mitchenall 

Retail and leisure agency Lunson Mitchenall has advised all of its employees to work from home for the “forseeable future.”

The company said: ”In light of the government advice, we have asked our staff to work form home for the forseeable future. All of the LM teaam have full work from home capacity and will join meetings in person or by phone or video conference as appropriate.”

Hospitality leaders launch voucher scheme to help sector through Covid-19

Manchester PR firm Roland Dransfield has set up a ’Pay It Forward’ voucher initiative, in repsonse to the escalating Covid-19 pandemic and recent government qadvice to stay away from bars and restaurants.

Roland Dransfield, along with Greater Manchester nigh time economy advisor Sacha Lord and other key authorities have created the scheme to encourage people to buy discounted vouchers at participating restaurants between now and Easter, with a view to redeeming them from May onwards.

For each voucher bought, restaurants will make a £1 donation to Hospitality Action, the charity which offers assistance to all who work within hospitality in the UK. 

The scheme is backed by Northern Restaurant and Bar, chef Aiden Byrne, Manchester Hoteliers’ Association and more.

“Manchester is a city that dances on tables, not hides under them.  We are also a city that supports one another in the face of adversity,” said Lisa Morton, chief executive and founder of Roland Dransfield. 

German logistics sector not restricted by coronavirus, survey shows

The logistics sector in Germany is not experiencing much restriction due to coronavirus, a flash poll conducted by Colliers International has shown.

The poll reported 41% of businesses such as transport/logistics companies, retailers, manufacturing companies, property developers, and investors are not seeing any limits related to the outbreak.

However, 15% of participants said they had taken precautions such as travel restrictions, working from home, and increasing their hygienic standards. Only 2% have cancelled projects.

Free training courses offered to remote workers

The British Safety Council is offering free training courses to help the general public adjust to working remotely.

Three courses are available, two of which such as demonstrates the risks and safety hazards of working from home, as well as advice on how to look after mental and physical wellbeing.

Employers also have a responsibility for the safety and welfare of their employees, and as such, there is also a course for managers on dealing with stress within their team.

The council is offering the courses for free until mid-April.

Colliers calls for business rates deferment scheme

Colliers has called on the government to introduce a three- or six-month deferment scheme to help businesses impacted by coronavirus.

The call comes after last week’s budget gave business rate relief to small businesses but was criticised for not doing more for medium and large businesses.

“We are in constant dialogue with our clients who are strong companies- but with footfall in retail centres ‘falling off a cliff ‘ and the hospitality sector seeing similar drops in trade, it is ridiculous that such large amounts of cash are being paid to the public purse when it could be used to safeguard jobs over the coming month . This three-month rate deferment would at least give businesses some breathing space to maintain their cash flow,” said Colliers’ head of business rates John Webber.

Read the full story here

Cushman & Wakefield to remote work “until further notice”

Cushman & Wakefield staff have been instructed to work remotely from tomorrow “until further notice”. The agency said the move was to support the recommended social distancing advice and to minimise concerns people had about travelling to and from the office. 

A statement from the business this afternoon said: “As the world contends with the growing spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the health and safety of our employees, clients and others remains our top priority. As of Tuesday 17 March, we are encouraging all employees based in our UK corporate offices to work from home until further notice.

”This is to support the recommended social distancing advice and to minimise concerns people might have about travelling into, and working from, the office. Our best in class technology and our flexible working solutions allow us to be fully agile and work remotely without disruption to our own, or our clients’, business. Our offices will remain open for those who need to, or would like to, work from the office.” 

LSH introduces ’business resiliance tests’

A spokesperson for the agency, said: ”We have undertaken a number of business resilience tests. Smart working forms part of a broader suite of activities that we are implementing to ensure the health and wellbeing of our staff and clients is maintained at all times, whilst being able to deliver continuity of service.”

JLL closes London offices after employees test positive for Covid-19

JLL has closed all three of its London offices as a precaution after “positive cases” of Covid-19 were found among its employees.

The agency said this morning it has also introduced UK-wide remote working for those able to do so.

A spokesperson for the agency said: “Following positive cases of Covid-19 in its Warwick Street and City offices, JLL has closed all three of its corporate offices in London, as a precautionary measure. Both employees are undertaking the recommended period of self-isolation and we wish them a speedy recovery.

“The health of our employees and the people who work in and visit the buildings we occupy remains our top priority. A deep clean of the three London buildings is being undertaken and JLL employees from these offices will work remotely until further notice.

“JLL’s residential agency shops and regional offices remain open currently.”


Avison Young instructs employees to work from home for two weeks

Avison Young logo

Avison Young

Avison Young employees are to work from home for at least two weeks effective immediately.

A statement from the business this morning said it remained open for business and that it had carried out remote tetsing to make sure it could continue to operate effectively. It will review the position in a fortnight.

A statement from the business said: “We are taking this social distancing step to support the World Health Organization’s containment and delay objectives and safeguard the health and wellbeing of our people and our wider communities.”


CBRE accelerates remote working plans

CBRE has instructed the majority of its UK employees to work from home until at least Friday 20th March.

A statement from the agency this morning said just “certain essential staff” will be able to work in its offices where necessary, while facilities management and property management employees at client sites “will continue to be responsible for providing services at those locations”.

The business will decide whether to extend this policy on Friday.

The statement said: “COVID-19 has presented extraordinary challenges that were hard to imagine a few months ago. Please be assured that we are doing everything possible to maintain a level of service you have come to expect from CBRE.”