Property professionals should also be classified as key workers, surveyors’ body says

Hundreds of empty hotel rooms, flats and commercial spaces could be loaned out to house NHS staff and other essential employees so they can live closer to hospitals and workplaces during the coronavirus crisis, RICS said today.

vacant offices

The surveyors’ organisation said many of its members worked for clients who owned vacant properties across the country and these could be used to help ease the strain on emergency service staff.

Matthew Howell, RICS managing director, said: “We would be keen to meet with government to discuss this and ensure the space and any vacant beds are put to good use.”

RICS has also teamed up with RIBA and the Royal Town Planning Institute to write to the government calling on ministers to extend emergency measures to include property professionals.

The letter stressed that the property sector was straining under the pressure of the coronavirus, with effects “not seen since the financial crash in 2007”.

RICS said it was seeking the introduction of emergency loan funding for all firms in the build environment sector, and fiscal support to help consultancy firms invest in work-from-home technology, allowing people to stay at home and reduce the burden on transport services.

Alan Vallance, RIBA’s chief executive and a co-signatory of the letter, called on the government “to do everything it can to make sure construction projects are able to progress safely”.

The government is threatening tougher measures to limit the movement of people after a weekend of fine weather saw thousands take to the country’s parks and streets.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the government was considering all options to prevent the spread of the disease, including giving police the power to enforce social distancing rules.