The government has amended the coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations to make clear that people who wish to move home can do so.
However, the relaxing of restrictions does not represent a return to normality. It is important that everyone knows how to stay alert, contain the virus and save lives
Moving home is not appropriate whilst you pose a direct risk of transmitting coronavirus. People who have coronavirus or are self-isolating with their family member should not leave their home to either move home, or undertake property viewings.
We would also ask anyone with possible symptoms, or anyone who has been in contact with someone who has possible symptoms, to stay home and wait until they are no longer a potential risk.
People should view the property from the outside and use virtual viewings before visiting properties in person where possible, in order to minimise public health risks.
Physical viewings should only be conducted where buyers are seriously considering making an offer on a property.
All viewings should take place by appointment and only involve members of a single household. Estate Agents can no longer offer any transportation and the use of public transport should be limited.
If your property is being viewed, you should open all the internal doors prior to the viewing, and allow access to hand washing facilities and ideally separate towels/paper towels.
Government advice is to vacate your property whilst viewings are taking place in order to minimise your contact with those not in your household. We appreciate this is not always appropriate and would therefore suggest face coverings and carefully maintaining the necessary two meter social distance.
When viewing a property, all parties should wash their hands and avoid touching surfaces where possible, so please open doors in advance and turn lights on.
We will ask you to restrict the number of people who accompany you on a viewing so that social distancing can be practised, and only those in your immediate household should be there. We would ask for a maximum of 2 people to view at any one time and would respectfully ask that children are not brought along, as it is hard to monitor their activity during viewings.
We will ask for viewings to be limited to a maximum of 15 minutes and for discussions to be kept as brief as possible and ideally held outdoors.
We will contact all viewers post viewing in order to answer any questions they may have and pick up discussions in more detail.
Once the viewing has taken place, the homeowner or occupant should ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned with standard household cleaning products and towels disposed of safely or washed as appropriate.
Tenants’ safety should be letting agents’ and landlords’ first priority. The government has put in place protections for tenants during the coronavirus outbreak, including legislation to delay when landlords are able to start proceedings to evict tenants. This means until 30 September 2020, most landlords will not be able to start possession proceedings unless they have given their tenants three-months notice.
Private landlords and letting agents should not conduct viewings in properties where tenants are symptomatic or self-isolating, or where it has been determined that they are clinically extremely vulnerable and are shielding.
Prospective purchasers may wish to visit a property again once they have agreed a sale, for example to measure up. Where this has been agreed, the above advice on prioritising virtual visits, hygiene measures, maintaining social distancing at all times and mitigating contact where possible should be followed.
Purchasers may also want to send in tradespeople to carry out inspections. Where possible these should be scheduled with one person visiting the property at any time. No tradespeople should enter a property where a member of the household is showing symptoms of coronavirus or self-isolating. Where a trades person is visiting the property, the occupier should maintain social distancing, wash their hands regularly and minimise contact as far as possible, for example by staying in another room. These visits should be carried out in line with government safer working guidance.
If your home is being surveyed, you should ensure the surveyor has access to all the parts of the property they need to inspect, and make efforts to minimise contact with the surveyor, for example by staying in another room whilst they are inspecting your home.
Your legal adviser should be able to help you to ensure that any contract you enter into has sufficient flexibility to allow the purchase to be delayed in the event that an individual in one of the parties contracts coronavirus or has to self-isolate.
Removal firms are able to operate, although they may need to adjust usual procedures in order to ensure moves happen as safely as possible. We advise you contact them as soon as possible to secure your arrangements.
In light of these restrictions, we will be asking more questions before booking appointments and there may be delays as appointments are staggered and carefully timed. Please do bear with us, we are looking after your safety and ours.