COVID-19: updating the guidance

New guidance is being issued daily to help keep the public safe

This week, both ARMA and the Government have issued formal coronavirus guidance. Ringley will be circulating this information to our clients and to directors of management companies. Below is a summary of the most important points.

Payment of service charges and ground rent

While private and social renters will be protected from eviction for three months under upcoming legislation, and homeowners have the offer of mortgage repayment holidays, we are already being faced with leaseholders unwilling to consider service charges an essential payment.  Ringley cannot agree to service charge payment holidays. This is because to keep your building running, we would need client or directors loans to cover shortfalls. 

However, we want to share with you that ARMA is in discussions with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) about any current or future plans to introduce support for leaseholders so that service charges can still be paid to keep essential services going.  Credit control and management of cash flow are vital in these challenging times.  It is just possible that the suspension of all forfeiture cases could mean that lenders become more reluctant to pay arrears and protect their security, as it’s not at risk for three months, so this could have an impact on your accounts and cash flow.

Major works, maintenance, and inspections

Essential works, for example, repairs to leaking roofs, will continue for the time being.
Plant Inspections – most suppliers are continuing plant inspection, testing and maintenance. We are monitoring this.
Statutory fire testing  – is still permitted and is arguably even more important at a time when most people are at home.
Lifts – The government and HSE have both taken a more hard-line standpoint on the requirement for LOLER inspections, as a number of insurance companies have already stated that they will NOT be carrying out inspections (at least until lift engineers are designated as key workers).  Unfortunately, the Government’s latest guidance is that if we are unable to get an inspection, the lift should be isolated from further use.  Our Support Teams are now analysing this and will report any problems.

Supply chain issues

We are beginning to have some trouble in sourcing parts for repairs on-site as, for example, Jewsons and Travis Perkins have taken the view that Government advice requires them to close their outlets. Again Government is being approached for clarification on this.

EWS1 forms, building safety and remediation works

As we reported in this blog yesterday, making buildings safe, including progressing the remediation of high-rise buildings with unsafe cladding – and particularly those with unsafe Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding – remains a priority for the Government. The view is that this work is critical to public safety additional project management support has been put in place together with construction expertise to help oversee remediation.  Read more here.

Key workers and essential services 
The full list of key workers can be found on the Government’s website here and continues to evolve. ARMA/BPF/IRPM/UKAA are working with the BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) to update the list of key personnel to take account of roles needed in high density residential dwellings.  James Brokenshire, Minister of State for Security at the Home Office, has extended key worker status to all security and fire safety personnel who are actively working to improve public safety.
Waking watches must be maintained as usual, but Competent Persons and Fire Safety Officers must observe social distancing guidance. Should we be notified of sickness or people isolating in any of our buildings that affects a waking watch we will liaise with the local Fire & Rescue Service accordingly.

ARMA are awaiting an answer to their question regarding Key Workers for the Block Management industry. This was raised with the Secretary of State and Housing minister on 26 March.

Common areas and onsite facilities

Given the Government’s enforcement that we practice social distancing, ordering the closure of cafes, restaurants, clubs, bars, pubs, health clubs, and gyms, and other social venues to try and slow down the spread of COVID-19, we have had to severely restrict or close all your communal facilities and amenities with immediate effect. This includes gyms, residents lounges etc.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in your building

Please do report to us if you are aware of a positive confirmed case of COVID-19 in your block.  If a case is reported, we will be following the guidance from Public Health England on the cleaning required, the appropriate disposal of waste and cleaning materials, the disinfection of equipment and hard surfaces, and the personal protective equipment (PPE) that should be worn.   You can read this here.

Please note that a deep clean of the communal areas may be required in accordance with guidance from PHE. This may result in an unbudgeted expenditure item to achieve this – but is not a choice – please consider it a requirement. 


Grenfell: changing the way we manage property

Major building safety reform has been announced in response to the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.

Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick, has made a series of updates this week concerning the Building Safety Programme, including the Government’s response to the Building a Safer Future consultation. The Government’s view is that the work to remove unsafe cladding from buildings is critical to public safety and so must remain a top priority.

Therefore, this week the Government has announced that:

• Dr David Hancock, the Government’s construction expert has been appointed to review ACM remediation,

• Faithful & Gould, expert construction consultants, have been appointed to provide additional programme management capability. This is to identify blockers and work with those responsible for remediation to support individual projects.

Last month, the Government announced a £1 billion fund through 2020/21 to support the remediation of unsafe non-ACM cladding materials on high rise buildings. It is working to make this funding available as quickly as possible and aims to publish the prospectus in May, opening for registrations soon after.

The Government is still working on 5 areas:

New legislation is coming – The Government’s response to the Building a Safer Future consultation and a new, national Building Safety Regulator are coming. The Government will legislate for these reforms through the Building Safety Bill, which puts residents safety at its heart and aims to deliver the biggest change in building safety for a generation

Building Regulations will change – Updates to Approved Document B and the increased fire safety measures for high-rise flats are complete. Sprinkler systems and clear wayfinding signage will be compulsory in all new high-rise flats over 11 metres (that is four storeys and, depending on design, some three-storey buildings too).

The latest results of tests into non-ACM cladding are published –The tests have improved understanding of how materials react when burnt. Different types of high-pressure laminate (HPL) and timber cladding were tested; the results confirmed the non-ACM materials all showed greater resistance to heat than their ACM counterparts.

EWS1 forms (EWS means ‘External Wall System’). It is now impossible to get a mortgage on a building over 18 metres (around five to six floors) without an EWS1 form. The government is asking lenders to agree a rational approach to lending on building less than 18 metres, which means depending on your lender it may be impossible to get a mortgage on a building without an EWS1 form too. The Government is now supporting an online industry-led portal through the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to database these EWS1 forms making conveyancing simpler in future. The online portal will hold completed EWS1 forms and both lenders and leaseholders will be able to access this information in due course.

Lender roundtable – The Secretary of State intends to host a lender roundtable to further explain its new focus on high-rise residential buildings above 18 metres and to agree on a rational lending approach to buildings under 18 metres.

At Ringley we have been arranging EWS1 forms on all our buildings over the winter months and are coming to the end of the buildings that either we believe needed them, or where an owner trying to sell needed help. We have prioritised these inspections based on buildings with owners trying to sell. We are continuing this critical fire safety work as government guidelines state that building safety remains a priority and this type of work should continue.

To get an EWS1 form is a team effort: first, samples for testing of materials (cladding, insulation, glue, fixings and compartmentation) have to be arranged, often incorporating access at high level. Second, we have to await samples coming back from the test laboratory. Third, to get the EWS1 form signed, a suitably qualified Level 4 Fire Inspector has to interpret the test results and decree that the building is either safe or any adverse impact of the external wall system is tolerable, or that the building is not safe and full remediation needs to take place. Often we also have to gather product datasheets on new build developments, from the developer, Construction Design & Management Manuals and/or 3rd parties such as Fire Design Companies or Building Control where available, design drawings and photos of wall systems being fitted. So it is not an easy feat.

The good news is that while expensive, this is not an annual exercise. The new information on how the wall system is made up then has to be fed back into routine Fire Risk Assessments which continue annually. The good news is that the cost of obtaining the EWS1 form is a service charge expense.

For those who want to read more…. the full government update is HERE

IF you are having trouble selling because you need an EWS1 form please email fm-helpdesk@ringley.co.uk

What’s included in the new Fire Safety Bill?

The Fire Safety Bill has been introduced to Parliament

While the property industry focuses its attention on business continuity in the face of COVID-19, work is still going on to improve fire safety in buildings in England and Wales.

In March, the Fire Safety Bill began its passage through Parliament, amending the Fire Safety Order 2005: it was introduced to the House of Commons and given its First Reading on Thursday 19 March.  The proposed legislation makes it clear that the responsible person or duty-holder for multi-occupied, residential buildings must manage and reduce the risk of fire for the structure and external walls of the building, including cladding, balconies and windows and the entrance doors to individual flats that open into common parts.

The aim is to empower fire and rescue services to take enforcement action and hold building owners to account if they don’t comply with the new rules.

The Bill takes forward recommendations that came out of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase one report. It stated that building owners and managers of high-rise and multi-occupied residential buildings should be responsible for:

  • regular inspections of lifts and the reporting of results to the local fire and rescue services;
  • ensuring evacuation plans are reviewed and regularly updated and personal evacuation plans are in place for residents whose ability to evacuate may be compromised;
  • ensuring fire safety instructions are provided to residents in a form that they can reasonably be expected to understand; and
  • ensuring individual flat entrance doors, where the external walls of the building have unsafe cladding, comply with current standards.

The Bill will also give the Government the ability to amend the list of qualifying premises that fall within the scope of the Fire Safety Order by way of secondary legislation. The idea is to enable the Government to respond quickly to new developments in the design and construction of buildings.

Click here to track the Bill’s progress through Parliament.

Coronavirus Act 2020 comes into force

New legislation to tackle the impact of COVID-19 has been fast-tracked through Parliament

The government has now confirmed that rather than enforcing a complete ban on evictions during the Coronavirus outbreak – as everyone in the industry thought – instead, the notice period for evictions is to change. The Coronavirus Act 2020– given Royal Assent on 25 March – simply extends the notice required.

Paperwork released overnight as the Act came into force, appears to confirm this, saying: “The prescribed forms that apply to secure tenancies have been changed to reflect the changes to possession procedures in the Coronavirus Act 2020. The amended forms now make it clear that court proceedings cannot begin earlier than three months from the date the notice is served.” Go to the Government website to see the updated Assured Tenancy forms and the Secured Tenancy forms.

In addition, a Section 21 (no fault) end of tenancy notice can still be served by landlords but cannot be progressed further and the Section 8 (breach) notice period has been extended from two weeks to two months.

The Courts

All courts and tribunals are closed until at least 29 May 2020, with that date to be extended if necessary. However, some hearings are having telephone meetings to avoid any personal contact.

Housing

For anyone buying or selling their house, the current advice is that buyers and renters should, as far as possible, delay moving while emergency measures are in place. People who have already exchanged contracts should try to write a delay into their contract. However, the Conveyancing Association is seeking ‘urgent guidance’ from the government as to whether moving house is deemed ‘essential’ under the new regulations now in force. Removal services have been deemed non-essential, so if people really have to move they are likely to be doing it themselves – and should use social distancing at all times.

Finally, one positive is that hotel apartment lets are coming back onto the market to be let as tenancies.


It’s official. Building maintenance must continue

Blocks need to be kept clean, now more than ever.

For property managers who are wondering whether or not routine maintenance should still go ahead in their blocks, the government has provided some clarity today. Secretary of State at the MHCLG Robert Jenrick, speaking to the BBC today, has confirmed the importance of ensuring that the maintenance of buildings for safety and sanitation continues – and that important works such as cladding remediation should still be carried out.

Amid the row over whether or not construction work should still continue on sites around the country, he emphasised the importance of ensuring all work is done in accordance with Public Health England guidance, which means abiding by the two-metre distancing rule at all times.

Following the announcement, the Institute of Residential Property Managers (IRPM) circulated a Newsflash to all its members this morning, saying the message from Mr Jenrick “would strongly suggest that other safety-critical work such as lift maintenance should continue”. The professional body also takes the fact that the Secretary of State specifically mentioned sanitation, to mean that appropriate cleaning regimes can continue in blocks too. The IRPM says it is now waiting for an approved list from MHCLG of which contractors may attend site and for what purpose. We will share this information with you when we know more.

Here’s what the Minister had to say. “There are settings in for example the construction industry where it is extremely important that we try to help people to continue to go to work. For example, ensuring that buildings are maintained properly for fire safety, for sanitation reasons. For example, ensuring that important programmes like the removal of dangerous ACM cladding on high-rise buildings continues, so there is essential work going on in the housing and construction industry that we want to encourage as long as it is safe to do so.”

In the meantime, trade bodies are advising maintenance contractors not only to abide by the distancing rules, but to ensure very high levels of hygiene while they are carrying out work. If an engineer is due to visit your building, they should be checking if anyone in the building has been diagnosed with Coronavirus or is self-isolating to ensure their safety as well as that of the people in your block. As we blogged on Monday, its vital to provide handwashing facilities for engineers and technicians; to keep plant rooms and other areas where they may be working clean and accessible; and to ensure residents are kept clear of any work areas.

This is all good practice anyway and may even encourage better standards of communication and hygiene in our blocks when this is over. We would like to assure all our clients and residents that routine servicing schedules are continuing in your blocks, as is our 24/7 emergency response.

Going up… new planning rules in the pipeline

Secretary of State Robert Jenrick has set out the Government’s ambitions for a new approach to housebuilding

In future, some residential blocks could be increased in height by two storeys as part of government plans to increase the density of housing in urban areas and provide more homes in towns and cities.  

In the wake of Wednesday’s Budget, Secretary of State for Housing Robert Jenrick has announced a number of planning reforms to encourage local authorities to start a new wave of house building across the country. Councils are being urged to:

  • encourage housing-led regeneration of high streets,
  • approve building upwards on already-developed land and railway stations,
  • densify existing residential areas and
  • make the most of under-utilised brownfield sites.

To get the ball rolling, the Chancellor has pledged an additional £10.9 bn of funding to help communities regenerate brownfield land, invest in new infrastructure and provide more homes for local people.

From that new funding package, £400m will be put towards using brownfield land more productively. A national brownfield map will be published later this year and there will be a call to allow building above stations to make the most of existing transport hubs.

The formula for calculating Local Housing Need will also be revised to encourage building in and around urban areas, gearing up for delivery of the Government’s promised 300,000 new homes a year.  New permitted development rights will be introduced this summer to encourage building upwards and increasing densities – including the right to extend residential blocks by up to two storeys – and to deliver new and bigger homes.

There has been widespread criticism of permitted development rights that have allowed commercial buildings to be converted into poor quality residential units without having to go through the normal planning process. So the Government will also be consulting on a new permitted development right to allow vacant commercial buildings, industrial buildings and residential blocks to be demolished and replaced with well-designed new residential units that meet natural light standards. 

The key to all this will be speeding up the planning system. The best of intentions will have no impact on new home delivery if housing schemes are stalled at planning stage and take years to get out of the ground. So later this Spring, the Government will publish a Planning White Paper setting out proposals to modernise the system, accelerate planning decisions and make it easier for communities to engage and play a role in the development decisions that affect them.

Ringley gives a cautious welcome to Budget

Property industry commentators gave a cautious welcome to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s first Budget yesterday as he repeated the Conservative party’s new mantra “We’re getting it done”.

For housing he pledged:

  • a new £12 billion multi-year extension of the Affordable Homes Programme – a £3 billion boost to the current programme which was put in place in 2016 and ends next year.  
  • an extra £650m of funding to help rough sleepers into permanent housing.
  • a new £1bn fund to remove dangerous cladding from high rise buildings. 
  • An additional 2% stamp duty on UK homes bought by foreign investors.

Ringley Group MD Mary-Anne Bowring was widely quoted in the press as print and online broadcasters raced to publish reaction to the Budget.

Commenting yesterday, she told  City AM, The Mirror, Mail Online and the Evening Standard, that she was in favour of the Chancellor’s increase in stamp duty, saying: “The stamp duty increase on the falling pound has made housing more affordable to overseas buyers, while domestic buyers have had to contend with stagnant wage growth and ultra-low interest rates pushing up prices and eating away at their ability to save.” However, she added that the increase for overseas buyers will simply put things back to where they were before the Brexit vote and “level the playing field for domestic buyers.”

 Speaking to Building and React News, Maryanne also welcomed the news of a new £1bn fund for cladding removal. The Chancellor said the cash will “go beyond dealing with only ACM cladding” and will help ensure that other types of unsafe cladding can be removed from both social housing and private blocks above 18 metres.

However, the Ringley MD does not believe the government has gone far enough to support residents concerned about the safety of their buildings. “The crisis goes far beyond removing Grenfell-style cladding,” she said. “Even leaseholders who have had their cladding found safe are still unable to re-mortgage or sell their properties due to the challenges of getting a signed EWS1 form. It is not just about dangerous cladding, it is about retrospectively tracing the physical construction of the building, and testing and how all the components and layers of the building act together.”

Residents in buildings less than 18 metres high – which may also be clad in potentially unsafe materials – were ignored by the Chancellor. Maryanne highlighted the fact that there must be an acceptance of the scale of the problem. “Today’s sums are just simply not enough,” she said.

What’s on Ringley’s Budget wish list?

New Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivers his first budget tomorrow. Here are the issues that Ringley Group MD Maryanne Bowring is hoping he will address.

Tax breaks for those supporting housing provision

  • Re-zoning for all our ailing high streets and government investment in master planning to promote housing, Planning Development rights and subsidies or business rates linked to turnover (aka turnover rates) to encourage leisure, cafe and restaurant businesses back into town centres.
  • Capital gains tax breaks for those who choose to sell properties to tenants.
  • Acknowledgment that private landlords are contributing to housing supply.  Allow interest deductions on borrowings to be fully relievable where homes are built or created by intensifying the use (sub-dividing a larger property), or extending a new property – thereby supporting landlords who have created new supply by bringing new dwellings into Council Tax
  • Refund, by way of a tax credit, the 3% Stamp Duty Land Tax surcharge payable by those who own multiple properties if and when the property purchased is converted, extended or remodelled and assessed by Council Tax authorities to comprise new dwellings
  • Enable schools to offer four-year apprenticeship schemes from age 14 as an alternative to GCSEs. This would help keep up with the need to employ one new construction professional every 77 seconds to meet the UK’s housing and infrastructure needs.
  • Give councils the ability to issue ‘sell or develop orders’ on empty homes.
  • Make rent-to-buy dwellings a planning sub-set of affordable housing, with restrictions on sale of such schemes so that homes may only be sold to persons who have rented in the development for two or more years and so that the entire building may only be sold to a rent-to-buy investor.
  • Banks to increase the availability of development finance for modern methods of construction (such as modular and turnkey housing) for new homes – where the loan security effectively sits in the factory or the balance sheet of the modular supplier not the developer – otherwise the only modular developers will be those who can build their own factories, the government, Housing Associations and those who are funded by bonds or capital houses.
  • Tax breaks for developers building or converting buildings via change of use, and where there is a long-term environmental benefit, ie the standing asset is actively emitting oxygen and features, for example, green walls plus zero vat for service charge payers thereafter on green wall maintenance.
  • Restore equality for property versus other assets.
  • For domestic buyers only, make stamp duty a vendor cost not an acquisition premium.
  • Reimagine planning as a service: set a range of realistic time-based planning targets based on scheme size and mix, more funding for planning departments who meet reasonable time targets, and sanctions on those who don’t. 
  • Align Capital Gains Tax on residential property, which for individuals is subject to 18% and 28% tax rates, when other asset classes are subject to just 10% and 20% rates
  • Increase stamp duty for overseas buyers.

In addition to these points, which are directly related to our sector, we would also like to see the Chancellor take broad action on climate change. As Greta says… if there is something wrong with your house then you fix it, so we need to go further to address climate change. 

We call for:

  • A new specialist ‘climate survival’ government department that draws upon the skills of the Trading Standards and the Environment Department.
  • A national business index that measures the carbon footprint of every business, perhaps a banding system like EPCs, per industry classification tax breaks on e-business and other initiatives that reduce the carbon footprint/raise the business rating.
  • Abolish farmland set-aside subsidies and boost home grown food.
  • Address the supply chain to take plastic out of the shops, set a date for plastic bottles to be eliminated in the UK and tax plastic toys while giving tax breaks on sustainable toys.
  • Create a measure to calculate excessive packaging and fine companies that exceed the criteria.
  • Change the BREAM points-based new building system to have non-negotiable red lines on either wind or solar power provision and 100% e-charging car points.
  • Financial incentives to retro-fit and upgrade our housing stock via tax relief, for both homeowners and landlords who invest in energy efficiency improvements to our aging housing stock – subject to such improvements bringing the property up to a grade B or improving the property by 3 bands as evidenced by an updated EPC. 
  • A national messaging campaign to clearly demonstrate how the government is (a) rewarding climate-responsible homeowners and landlords, and (b) is sending clear messages to industries that are not adapting and adopting pro-climate ways of operating that they will face phased-in higher taxation.  Let the UK set an international example; a bi-product result will be a boost to domestic industry.

Finally, we fully support the First Homes scheme with its 30%  lower deposit and mortgage requirements for local first-time-buyers, favouring veterans and key workers including nurses, police officers, and firefighters.  We also agree with legislation to enforce the rule that such properties can only be sold to first time buyers, with restrictions at land registry to prevent re-sale to persons who do not similarly qualify.  Such a scheme may only apply to new build properties at the outset but to enable re-sales necessarily will encompass second-hand stock.

We await the outcome of the Budget with interest. Despite the economic problems that we expect to face in the months to come as a result of the Coronavirus, we believe the new Chancellor has an opportunity to act with imagination and creativity, as well as with fiscal rigour, to tackle the issues we outline above.

Coronavirus: planning for business as usual

We all now understand that the Coronavirus outbreak is going to get worse before it gets better: unfortunately, the ripple effects of the economic and social impact of the virus will be felt by all of us. So businesses and individuals need to be prepared.

As property managers, we are well aware that our clients and residents rely on us to keep their blocks running smoothly. If many of our staff are forced to self-isolate, our service to you will suffer. So we are busy putting contingencies in place to ensure that, as far as possible, we are able to carry on with business as usual.

In an increasingly connected world, many of us are able to work remotely, and Ringley staff are no exception. We have put in place a range of solutions to ensure that if our people have to stay at home, they can carry on working if well enough to do so. Relationship managers’ mobiles have been connected to the office network so that home phones operate as office phones, with all the same connectivity. And staff will have full access to all IT systems for accounts, billing and invoicing as usual.

However, there is only so much that any of us can do to keep calm and carry on. If we do find ourselves facing a full-blown epidemic, residents may have to be patient over issues such as repairs, which may not be carried out as quickly as usual. We are working to ensure that emergencies will still be covered and our 24-hour emergency phone line will continue to work as usual for the time being.

Of course, there are also things leaseholders can do to help themselves and their neighbours. First, make sure you’ve read the latest Public Health England advice and ensure notices are posted around your block reminding residents to wash their hands frequently, particularly when they come in from work, go to the bin store or the car park and so on.

As a nation, we Brits are proud of our ability to keep calm in a crisis and the Blitz spirit is often invoked. So now is the time to make sure you and your neighbours have each other’s mobile numbers, are aware of any residents in your block that may be particularly vulnerable and keep in touch with each other via your residents portal or website if you have one – or, if not, via social media.

If residents are having to stay at home and their neighbours are aware of that, they can pull together and help each other with shopping, collecting prescriptions or even cooking meals that can be left outside each other’s doors. One of the real benefits of the internet is that we can all keep in touch with no need to have any physical contact with each other and that may become very important in the weeks to come. Extreme times call for extreme measures and, who knows, we may find that a health crisis actually helps bring us together and build community in ways we never expected.

If in the next few weeks you do have to stop working for any length of time, and as a result, may have problems paying your service charge or rent, please contact us sooner rather than later. We will do our best to provide the right advice. And finally, read Friday’s Blog for more on protecting residents on-site.

Coronavirus: advice to our clients and residents

If anyone in your block is suspected of having the virus, contact your property manager as soon as possible.

Coronavirus is a national issue beyond our remit – however, we feel it is important to address the concerns of those living in the homes we manage, especially as people may be self-isolating. So here are the steps that will be taken if there is a suspected case within your building.

First and foremost we advise all residents to follow the official advice from Public Health England and the NHS. If a member of your household is in self-isolation as a result of the government guidance then please notify your property manager as soon as possible.

If you live in a block of flats, it may be the case that we are required to inform other residents in order that they are aware of the issue.  The Government could require us to do so, or the client/directors of the management company could require us to do so. If you are in self-isolation, it is important that contractors or other non-family members are not invited into your home for the entire period. 

If there is a confirmed case of Coronavirus in your building, your property manager will take guidance from Public Health England as to the required action to be taken. This may include a deep clean of the communal areas of the building.  As an unbudgeted expenditure, reserve funds may need to be spent to achieve this.   By letting your property manager know, he or she can share this with the client/committee on-site to ensure that, should a resident be isolating at home, the community in the block come together to ensure they have the food and toiletries they need – and do not need to go out and breach their isolation.

As things stand, there is no requirement for any residents to vacate a building in the event of a resident of another flat contracting the virus, but again we will be guided by Public Health England at all times.

If you are NOT an owner-occupier, you SHOULD provide this information to your tenant.

For clients and RMC directors here are some other matters that you may wish to consider in your planning:

  • Doors are clearly the largest transmission risk point. Foot-operated door openers do exist and could reduce the chances of infections being spread by door handles  
  • For doors with the green push-to-exit release buttons –consider asking people to operate them with their elbows.
  • To reduce cross-infection, warning signs could be put next to handles and knobs that are likely to be touched by lots of people.  Then people could decide how to deal with the risk themselves (pull down sleeves over hands, use elbows, etc).
  • Perhaps a biohazard sticker with ‘Danger of Cross-Infection’ or similar text might be appropriate.

We are now researching companies competent to carry out deep cleaning and anti-bacterial fogging. A deep clean means not only the cleaning of all walls, door frames, etc using pressurised sprayers but also use of a fogging machine with an anti-bacterial product. The solution in a fogging machine is a bacterial, fungicidal and virucidal disinfectant. As the disinfectant fog disperses, the active ingredient comes into contact with all surfaces in the room and thereby treats both surfaces and the air.

The central point of contact for all clients/directors in relation to Coronavirus measures is Paul West. He can be contacted via  paul.west@ringley.co.uk   or 07490 023207. Please do not overload your Relationship Manager with these matters as this will erode the capacity that they need to carry out their day job (potentially under strained circumstances).   Paul is available for additional site inspections and on-site discussions as an addition to the management service.