Over half of agents have left themselves open to complaints in the last 12 months as a result of letting a property using only virtual viewings, according to the Property Redress Scheme.
Indeed, in a recent survey completed by Property Redress Scheme members, some 55% of respondents revealed they had let a property using only virtual viewings in the last 12 months, which, under the Consumer Rights Act, leaves them vulnerable to complaints, as the tenant may not have been fully aware of all the key details of the property.
Sean Hooker, head of redress at the Property Redress Scheme, explains, “Virtual viewings have several great benefits such as helping to filter out customers who aren’t sure the property is right for them; minimising unnecessary disruption to current tenants; allowing potential tenants to view properties at a time convenient to them; and eliminating travel time for both themselves and the agent.”
He added: “However, caution should be exercised, especially when the tenant is at the stage of signing on the dotted line, paying a holding deposit or rent in advance. Tenancy agreements are consumer contracts and the consumer protection regulations, give tenants security against mis-selling, misleading actions, and omissions.”
The ever-changing environment over the course of the pandemic has meant that the private rented sector has had to improvise how it operates, with many agents revealing that they have had to learn to work remotely, online, and with greater flexibility.
As the UK continues to move away from Covid restrictions, the current government guidance states that there are no legal limits on the number of households which may view a home in person, but it continues to recommend that remote viewings should be strongly considered before deciding whether to view in person.