'I was bullied into letting strangers in my home' tenant claims amid viewing row

woman outside house

Theresa Upton outside her rented home in Old Catton. - Credit: Denise Bradley

A Norwich single mum has claimed she felt pressured into letting potential buyers view her rented home during Covid. 

Theresa Upton, who has an 11-year-old daughter, said she has now been given three months' notice by her landlord to find somewhere else to live.

It comes after suddenly being told her home was up for sale and that viewings were booked. 

Strict government guidelines are in place regarding tenants' rights to allow people into their homes in Covid. 

But Mrs Upton, who runs a dog grooming business and who moved into the £700 a month three bedroom semi-detached house in Three Corner Drive, Old Catton seven months ago,  claims viewings were arranged at short notice. She said she felt she had to go along with them. 

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"I feel like I was given no choice but to allow the viewings," she said. "On Friday night I got a message from the landlord saying there was a viewing at 5.30pm on Saturday. I felt I couldn't say no.

"I was then told there were back to back viewings booked on Sunday. I went out for about two and a half hours and it was raining and cold, I felt physically sick when I came home. 

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"I said to the agent I felt really unhappy and uneasy that strangers had been in my home."

She was later told by her landlord the house was under offer.

Mr O'Neill, from the East Anglian division of national estate agency Yopa, said Mrs Upton had told him she felt bullied.

"She said she felt bullied and pressurised into accepting viewings and so I apologised if I had made her feel like that," he said 

"Every step I made sure it was Covid secure. The viewings were arranged between her (Mrs Upton) and the owner of the property. I then gave her (Mrs Upton) a call to confirm and she was happy for them to take place. It was only afterwards she raised concerns."

Mr O'Neill denied the viewings were 'back to back' but that each appointment was for 15 minutes with a 15 minute break in between so he could sanitise at the property with viewings starting at 10.30am and finishing at 12.15. 

He said a virtual viewing could have taken place instead. 

Landlord Lisa Clark also stated she had not been made aware of Mrs Upton's concerns. "I gave her an opportunity to buy. She never once said she was unhappy about the viewings. I'm in no rush and she really has no reason to feel worried."

What are your rights as a tenant in Covid?

Government guidelines state where possible, virtual viewings should take place before in person. A viewing should only be done in person 'when buyers are seriously considering a property.'

As with allowing tradespeople in for repairs, 'landlords should be aware that some tenants may still want to exercise caution and respect this when engaging with their tenants.'

Above all else the 'tenant's safety should be the priority of letting agents and landlords'.

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