A group of professional bodies in the Malaysian real estate sector has called on the government to place them under strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) and be allowed to operate during the movement control order (MCO).

Representing 15,000 members in the sector, the group comprises the Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector Malaysia (PEPS), the Business Valuers Association of Malaysia (BVAM), the Royal Institution of Surveyors Malaysia (RISM), the Malaysian Institute of Property & Facility Managers (MIPFM), the Malaysian Institute of Professional Estate Agents & Consultants (MIPEAC) and Persatuan Perunding Hartanah Muslim Malaysia (PEHAM), reported Free Malaysia Today (FMT).

It pointed out that the operations of most firms within the industry – which are mainly small and medium enterprise (SME) businesses – has been halted by the enforcement of the MCO.

“Whatever reserves that the SMEs may have had to tide over difficult periods have by now been depleted,” said the group in a joint statement.

“We appeal to the government to reconsider the consequences of extending this lockdown not only to the general economy, but also to the surveying, valuation and property-related firms,” it added as quoted by FMT.

The group said these companies should be allowed to operate under strict SOPs in the event the MCO would be extended.

“Most of them can work from home but they have to maintain skeletal staff in the office to access files, receive calls and photocopy documents, and generally keep the office going.”

It also urged the government to open up critical sectors like the construction and property sectors as well as professional services to support them.

Moreover, the group suggested putting on hold the contributions to Sosco and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) during the lockdown period to ease the financial burden of businesses.

“Create an emergency fund from the contribution of large companies which are not affected by the pandemic and allowed to operate since the beginning of MCO 1.0. This fund should be used as a safety net for any family who has fallen victim to the economic fallout due to the lockdown,” it added.