Covid19 Virtual viewings and high demand

Covid Virtual Viewings and High Demand

I have just let a property in a semi-rural, semi-urban location, just outside London.

The fascinating thing about this was that it produced the highest demand for a property I have let in all my 30 years as a landlord.

From when the advert was placed, the phone never stopped ringing, so much so that I had to dispense with my usual phone pre-screening and just send the applicants a summary of the key points to try to weed out the usual time wasters who could not actually afford the rent or who think they can shoe-horn five people into a small terraced house.

Interestingly, many of the people I did speak to said they wanted to move from central London to a more rural location – this being driven by the bug they call Covid19.

Many wanted a house rather than a flat and a significant number of others said they could not see the point of living in the centre of London, a city that was now effectively dead, devoid of joy and fun. Many also said they did not need to be close to work any more, as they expected to be working from home for ever from now on – and so were moving out to a cheaper location.

High Demand Outside Cities, Low Demand Inside

This single anecdotal experience bears out findings elsewhere and is suggestive of reduced demand in inner cities and higher demand in city and town outskirts.

All our adverts point out that we need to be satisfied that applicants can prove 2.4 times the rent as income and are solvent, but of course, lots of people don’t read the advert properly and apply anyway – hence the weeding out process. Our email response informs applicants that they need to provide bank statements evidencing their income meets this target and that they are not already overdrawn.

However, another noticeable thing this time was the proportion of applicants who could not meet that income and solvency bar was much higher than normal, at around 90%. This possibly points out that people are already really struggling as a result of the government’s insane reactions to what I call, the “Coronapanic”.

(Example: Today, just 13 people died of Coronavirus in the UK. The total number of under 60s who have died so far, who did not already have a serious health condition is under 350 (or 0.0005% of the UK population). To put that in perspective, roughly 100 people die every day from cardiovascular illnesses caused directly by air pollution. And yet our government has seen fit to destroy the economy and inflict misery on everybody as well as removing many basic human rights and forcing people to mask up whenever they go to the shops.

Virtual Viewings

This property was actually let via a virtual viewing because our tenants conveniently said that they are “having to isolate whilst awaiting Covid test results”. (With failed businesswoman, but friend of senior Tories, Dido Harding in charge of test and trace, the wait for test results is a long one).

Possibly, this is true, possibly not, but, of course, it is now a convenient excuse to be used by any tenant who does not fancy letting you in to do physical viewings.

In fact, despite whatever it might say in your tenancy agreement about your rights to do viewings with prospective tenants, you don’t actually have any rights to go into a property, unless it is to do emergency repair work, if the current occupants say they are not going to let you in – Covid19 or no Covid19!

But the existence of Covid19 is, of course, a convenient excuse by “awkward squad” tenants to stop you going round. I think it is being widely abused, but then we must get used to this. The “because of Covid” excuse is being trotted out by every organisation in the land to explain why their service is lousy, delayed or just plain awful.

Dandy Highwaymen

For example, I went to my local municipal dump yesterday, but was turned away by a sympathetic face nappy wearing member of staff because our local council is allocating days to odd and even numbered cars – and I was on the wrong day. It was on a Monday, the place was empty, but the lady on the gate outside regretted she had to “enforce the rules”.

I sympathised and asked her for how long she had had to breathe in her own CO2 today. as a result of being forced to dress with a face nappy across her face, like a latter day “dandy highwaywoman”. She said, the council had enforced it from today and she had to wear it all day.

So I referred her to this open letter from a group of very senior Belgian medics and epidemiologists to their government, which questions many aspects of their government’s response and also pointing out that face muzzles actually do more harm than good. I recommended her to give a copy to the council and to her fellow workers and to stop wearing the mask. The next day they all were mask-less. The letter is here:

There have been similar letters in the UK government from our own senior medics.

I would suggest people do their own research. Perhaps turn off the always hysterical TV news and look at that letter and also the thinking of some of our own senior health people – such as Carl Heneghan, David Spiegelhalter, Sunetra Gupta, Karol Sikora, Calum Semple and Sunil Bhopal.

All have questioned the current government approach, the hysteria and hiding of the truth by most main media outlets. I fear the government response has already taken a very sinister turn in relation to loss of our basic rights.

Whatever happens, us landlords will have to allow for extra time to do the most basic things – whether that is to get repair jobs done, obtain a mortgage or any number of things.

Plan and adapt!


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