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647. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice the guidelines in place for property viewings, both vacant and occupied, under level 5 restrictions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36758/20]

648. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice if the guidelines in place for viewings of tenant occupied properties in which the sitting tenants are categorised as at risk or at high risk for Covid-19 will be clarified; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36759/20]

Answer

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): I propose to take Questions Nos. 647 and 648 together.
The Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) is the statutory body established under the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011, with responsibility to licence and regulate property services providers (auctioneers, estate agents, letting agents and property management agents).
On 19 May 2020, the PRSA in association with the Institute of Professional Auctioneers & Valuers (IPAV) and the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) issued the Joint Sector Protocols to all Property Services Providers (PSPs). The Protocol is intended to ensure strict precautions are taken to provide the highest standards of safety in the sales, lettings, valuations and managements of properties in the best interest of clients, consumers, employees, employers and those who are categorised as being at risk or at high risk of Covid-19.
This document gives detailed guidelines for consideration prior to arranging a viewing of a property, what happens during a viewing, post viewing tasks and what to do when a rental agreement is reached including:
- Confirm whether respective client is cocooning or in an at risk category and if so, identify any additional precautionary measures that may be required.
- Agree with the owner/occupier that they will not be in the property at the time of viewing.
- Agree with owner/occupier and note all touch points in the dwelling for the property service provider (PSP) to sanitise after viewing (e.g. door handles, light switches etc.).
- Agree with owner/occupier the use of official Covid-19 signage at locations throughout the property to act as a useful reminder to viewers to follow the HSE rules.
- Pre-booked private appointment viewings only.
- Contact viewer(s) in advance to confirm booking and advise of controls in place and that HSE Covid-19 official instructions must be adhered to during viewings.
- PSPs should ask viewers to remain a reasonable distance from the property (e.g. remain in car) until given permission by the PSP to enter the property .
On 23 October 2020, the PSRA in association with IPAV and SCSI issued the “Property Services Providers' Guidance to Implementing Plan for Living with Covid 19” to all PSPs. This document outlines that under Level 5 restrictions, viewings by the public of properties for sale are permitted by appointment only where:
- Confirmation provided of (a) proof of funds (b) property previously viewed online.
- Time restricted appointments with sufficient time allowed between appointments to avoid any potential cross over of viewers.
- Viewings by one party of two people from the same household is only permitted.
The following arrangements apply for property for rent:
- Properties to be viewed online
- No viewings in person permitted except:
- Where the potential tenant has been offered the property. Viewing of the property takes place prior to signing of the lease and payment of a security deposit.
- In emergency circumstances.
- In these circumstances, viewings by one party of two people from the same household is only permitted.
The full documents are available to view on the Property Services Regulatory Authority website at: www.psr.ie. Question No. 648 answered with Question No. 647.