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Hot Topic Highlight – Advising Clients During Covid-19

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What is today's blog about?

In this week’s blog, we take a look at how the Covid-19 outbreak may be affecting the reasoned advice that you give to your clients. Essential reading for RICS APC candidates sitting their final assessment interviews in Session 1 2020.

Why is this important?

The Covid-19 outbreak is affecting every single one of us, both as individuals and professionals. In our view, the first thing to get right is to take responsibility for your own physical and mental health. Without this, you will not be of much assistance to you, your family, friends, colleagues or clients.

If you are in need of a friendly ear at a difficult time, please contact us to chat or speak to the helpful team at RICS LionHeart (a charity supporting RICS professionals).

What are the impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak?

Moving on, the Covid-19 outbreak has created an unprecedented level of uncertainty in the global economy. This, of course, feeds down into individual countries, sectors, industries and markets – with dramatic impacts already being seen on the built and natural environments.

This could include construction work coming to a halt, tenants not paying rent or becoming insolvent, an inability to physically inspect properties and being unsure of how to deal with essential maintenance or repair works.

Where can I find guidance on what to do?

The starting point should be the RICS website.

RICS have stated that as the Covid-19 outbreak unfolds, we know many firms and professionals will have questions and concerns about how to best conduct their operations, deliver for clients and customers and remain resilient during this challenging time. At the heart of everything we do is delivering confidence in the public interest so our priority is to support you as you work hard to maintain this for this unprecedented period’.

The RICS’ Covid-19 advice includes professional guidance on or for:

  • Client money protection

  • Client visits and inspections

  • Construction and building maintenance

  • Dispute resolution

  • Estate and letting agents

  • Landlords and telecommunications providers

  • Planning

  • Professional Indemnity Insurance

  • Regulatory and audit activity

  • Rural practice

  • Valuation – including a Valuation Practice Alert

  • SMEs

  • UK Government

  • Supporting surveyors’ wellbeing

It should be noted that this guidance is continually updated to keep pace with the outbreak and top-level Government guidance and legislation. As such, you will need to review the information on a regular basis to ensure that you keep up to date on best practice.

You can also read the latest RICS news on the Covid-19 outbreak online.

What are example questions I may face in my final assessment interview?

Our Building Surveying consultant assessor, Brian Robinson, considers that Covid-19 is likely to be topical during the Session 1 2020 RICS APC final assessment interviews.

For relevant built environment competencies, some potential questions to consider your answers to include:

  1. Is the stoppage of works due to Covid-19 a Relevant Event under the form of contract being used, allowing the contractor to submit an extension in time claim?

  2. Is it a Relevant Matter under the form of contract?

  3. Can the contractor claim for loss and expense?

  4. How have you organised your notes in case of an extension in time claim?

  5. Is any scaffolding still being inspected to make sure it is safe, so that there is no risk to other parties?

  6. There is a clear risk of knock-on insolvency caused by disease-related business disruption. How confident are you that any contractors will be able to resume work when the restrictions are lifted? If you are not, how are you advising your client accordingly and what actions are you taking to manage this risk?

We are able to provide a full APC Question Pack to candidates on any RICS APC pathway or route, as well as simulating your final assessment interview during an e-mock interview. In our excellent value Ace Your Assessment package, we can provide both of these services together.

This will allow you to explore how you would advise clients in the current market, as well as ensuring you are confident and fully prepared to face your assessment panel in the coming weeks and months.

What about if I am concerned about my ongoing employment in a SME?

RICS have published guidance specifically aimed towards candidates working in SMEs.

They have confirmed that ‘all candidates will continue to have access to the Assessment Resource Centre. If you are working towards an assessment, remember any work experience you have gained in the five years before your assessment will be valid, so if you are unable to gain experience for a period of time your previous work will still count towards your minimum 400/200 days requirement.

If you have to defer your assessment or refer at the assessments during this period, you be given a 6 month extension on the validity of your case study(ies), for example from 24 months to 30.

This also applies to any apprentices who have applied for their assessment’.

If you are in any doubt, then please contact us for a confidential and friendly chat. If we can’t help with your query, then we will know who can and will help you to seek the support or advice you need, e.g. from RICS.

How can we help?

Stay tuned for our next blog post to help build a better you

N.b. Nothing in this article constitutes legal, professional or financial advice.