1411. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Justice if a date for a return to house viewings has been given; and if so, when it will take place. [18918/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): While the Minister for Health has primary responsibility for our overall national COVID strategy, I am happy to supply the following information about the current guidance developed by the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) in this regard.
The Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) is the independent 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).
To be of assistance to the Deputy, I have contacted the Property Services Regulatory Authority who has informed me that, on 19 May 2020, the PSRA in association with the Institute of Professional Auctioneers & Valuers (IPAV) and the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) issued the Joint Sector Protocol for 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.
Following on from the Government's publication of the Plan for Living with Covid-19, the PSRA in association with IPAV and SCSI published the Property Services Providers Guidance to implementing the Plan for Living with Covid-19. This document set out additional measures to be undertaken at the different levels outlined within the Plan. An updated version of this Guidance issued in January 2021, to take into account the enhanced restrictions introduced at that time. The guidance in this most recent edition of the Protocol for “Viewings by the public of properties for sale” under current Level 5 restrictions (page 4 of the document) is as follows:
Viewings by the public is permitted of properties by appointment only where the property has gone sale agreed and contracts for sale drafted.
In these circumstances:
- Viewings by one party of two people from the same household is only permitted; and
- Properties must be unoccupied at the time of appointment.
No change has been made to the restriction level since then and therefore this guidance should still be adhered to.
Both the Protocol and the Guidance are subject to the Government, HSE and Department of Health guidelines on these matters. The full document is available to view on the Property Services Regulatory Authority website at: www.psr.ie
The relevant public health considerations therefore remain the primary determining factor as to when it will be appropriate for house viewings to resume in the manner to which we have been previously accustomed. The PSRA will continue to work with the industry to plan for viewings in a safe way as soon as practicable.