21 Jan GOVERNMENT ADVICE ON HOUSING DURING THE PANDEMIC
When you can move home
You may now:
- move home
- market a residential property for sale or rent and prepare a residential property for persons to move into
- view a residential property
Key things to consider are:
- Use virtual viewings of properties where possible
- Properties should be unoccupied when physical viewings take place
- Follow government advice on social distancing during a viewing
- the wearing of masks by all parties during a viewing
- Practice good hand hygiene and ‘touch free’ viewings
- Thoroughly clean properties before and after viewings
This guidance provides important public health information to ensure that key activities associated with moving home, such as viewing properties, happen safely. A home includes residential park homes and this guidance also applies to custom and self-builders looking to acquire a plot or a property to renovate or to demolish. This guidance also provides some recommendations to ensure that the risk of spread of coronavirus is reduced as far as possible.
This guidance was accurate at time of publication. It will be updated to reflect changes in restrictions made through amendments to the regulations.
The process of finding and moving into a home has had to to adapt to ensure that the risk of spread of coronavirus is reduced as far as possible. In practice this means minimising household mixing indoors and contact with surfaces.
Everyone should seek to do as much of the process online as possible, such as virtual property viewings initially, and ensuring that, where possible, any current residents have left the property prior to any in person viewings being carried out; the wearing of masks by all parties during a viewing; following government advice on social distancing during a viewing; practicing good hand hygiene; and ‘touch free’ viewings.
No one should attend at any property or meet with anyone outside their household or extended household if they have symptoms, are self-isolating because they have symptoms or have tested positive or are a contact of someone who is self-isolating, or have been told to self-isolate.
We encourage all parties involved to be as flexible as possible over this period and be prepared to delay home moves, where, for example, someone becomes ill with coronavirus during the moving process or has to self-isolate.
You should consider whether you need to make provisions in contracts to manage these risks. More detail on progressing the individual elements of the home buying and selling or rental process, plus how this applies to different groups, is set out in the next section.
People self-isolating or having tested positive for coronavirus
Moving home is not appropriate whilst you pose a direct risk of transmitting coronavirus. People who either have coronavirus or are self-isolating with their family member, household or extended household should not leave their home to either move home, or undertake related activities and should strictly follow the self-isolating, or have been told to self-isolate guidance and apply for a test where required.
If you are contractually committed to move home, you should delay your move until all members of your household have come to the end of their self-isolation period as set out in the guidance. All parties involved in home buying and selling should seek to agree amicable arrangements to change move dates for individuals where someone in a chain or their family member is self-isolating or has tested positive for coronavirus. Should a move be essential for people in this category please contact your relevant public health teams for advice.
Preparing to buy, sell or move home
You can put your home on the market and start to look for properties you want to move into.
- you can begin to market your home and property agents are able to visit in order to take photos or videos of the property, but they should do so in accordance with workplace guidance for employers and employees: COVID-19and the physical distancing in the workplace guidance. All reasonable measures must be taken in workplaces and premises to minimise the risk of exposure to the virus
- to help prevent the spread of infection, you should do the majority of your property searching online.
- Viewings can take place but, where possible, current residents should leave the property prior to the viewings to avoid different households coming into contact with one another inside.
- we recommend that properties are cleaned thoroughly before and after viewings take place. You can get more information about cleaning in non-healthcare settings on GOV.UK. as usual, you can also start to bring together the documentation necessary to sell your property (more information on these documents is available in the government’s guidance on how to sell homes).
Physical viewings can take place. The following advice on prioritising virtual visits, should be followed.
You should use virtual viewings before visiting properties in person, in order to minimise public health risks, by ensuring you are visiting only those properties that appear to be most suitable to meet your needs and preferences. Physical viewings can take place, but there are ‘key points to consider,’ which are further explored below, to do so safely.
If you are a property owner selling your property, your agent will advise on the process, and how to sell your property safely including how property viewings can be carried out safely. Physical viewings cannot take place if you or any of the people you live with have symptoms or have tested positive and are self-isolating, of if you or anyone you live with have been identified as a contact of someone who has tested positive.
If you are selling your property privately, and managing viewings yourself, you should refer to the guidance contained within this document and the housing sector guidance.
Key points to consider are:
- you should search for properties online in the first instance
- initial viewings should be done virtually and property landlords and agents should help you to do this
- all physical viewings of properties should be by appointment only and social distancing rules should be followed by everyone involved
- properties should be thoroughly cleaned before and after viewing
- physical viewings of properties should be limited to members of the same household, and ideally, where possible, the adult members of that household only (or one member from each household if the home move involves the household and extended household), thereby limiting the number of visitors including children, viewing a property at any one time
- any work in someone’s home should be carried out in line with guidance on working in other people’s homes
- the agent or landlord can accompany the viewing
- social distancing measures must be adhered to at all times and face coverings should be worn
- no open house viewings should take place
- only the person accompanying the viewing should be in attendance; this may be the agent or landlord or a single member of the occupying household – where possible, everyone else should vacate the property to avoid mixing with member of another household indoors.
- whilst viewings are taking place where the current occupiers of the property cannot vacate the property, even for a short time, they should make efforts to minimise contact with those viewing the property, for example, by being in a different room from these individuals and maintaining social distancing at all times.
- the agent or landlord must travel to the property separately from the household viewing the property; car sharing is to be avoided
- Viewings should be ‘touch free’, the person accompanying the viewing should be the only person to open doors, switch on lights etc. and should follow good hand hygiene procedures to minimise risk of spreading the virus. Everyone should avoid touching surfaces, wash their hands at the earliest opportunity following the visit and bring and use their own hand sanitiser
- once the viewing has taken place, the landlord or agent responsible for accompanying the viewing should ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned with standard household cleaning products and towels disposed of safely or washed as appropriate
- when you enter someone else’s home, or if someone enters your home, the guidance on entering other people’s homes should be followed.