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Leah Sharman
Leah Sharman
Date Published: 14 May 2020
Last Updated: 14 May 2020

Government Advice on Moving House During the Coronavirus

Conveyancing - Residential Property Government Advice on Moving House During the Coronavirus

From Wednesday 13 May the Government advice on moving home during the Coronavirus outbreak has changed. Previous restrictions imposed on 26 March meant all but essential home moves and moves where the property was empty were put on hold, many transactions were also put on hold as mortgage valuations and surveys could not take place.

The amended advice now allows:

  • Visits to estate agents, developer sale offices and show homes
  • Viewings of residential properties to look for a property to buy
  • Moving home
  • Visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the sale of that property
  • Preparing a residential property to move in

Although this marks a significant change to the previous advice and has been seen to ‘reopen the housing market’ it is not a return to normality and this is noted in the Government advice. The process of finding and moving into a new home will need to be adapted to ensure that the risk of spreading the Coronavirus is reduced as much as possible.

Buyers and sellers are also being asked to remain flexible, and although the changes mean that home moves can now take place there is a warning that it may become necessary to pause home moves again for a short period of time in order to manage the spread of Coronavirus. You should also be prepared to delay your move if a party becomes ill or has to self-isolate.

Viewings

Estate agents have been permitted to reopen under the amended guidance and can also undertake property viewings. In the first instance, if possible, prospective buyers should view the property virtually and physical viewings should only take place where buyers are seriously considering making an offer on the property. By conducting virtual viewings it is hoped the number of properties buyers will need to physically visit before finding a property they wish to purchase will be reduced, thereby minimising interaction with people outside of their household.

Where a physical viewing does take place, these should be conducted by appointment only and ‘open house’ viewings should not take place. If possible the seller will not be present during the viewing, in any event all windows and doors should be opened and access to hand washing should be made available. During a home viewing, all parties should wash their hands and avoid touching any surfaces, social distancing rules should also be adhered to where possible.

Surveys and Valuations

The previous restrictions imposed on 26 March meant that most valuations and surveys were unable to take place, except for where a property was empty. The new guidance allows “visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property”; this includes undertaking surveys and valuations. Many transactions had been paused as mortgage lenders were unable to produce mortgage offers until a valuation had taken place, these valuations will now be able to take place although there may be some delay due to a backlog.

Moving

Removal firms have now been authorised by the Government to operate and are able to assist in moving your belongings. The advice does however ask that you and your household try and do as much of the packing yourself as possible instead of asking removal companies to do this for you. Belongings should be cleaned with domestic cleaning products before they are handled by others, including removals firms. Whilst the removers are in your home, you should ensure all internal doors are open and a 2 metre distance should be maintained where possible between members of your household and removers.

Vulnerable People or Those Shielding

The Government advice still states that those who are shielding or otherwise vulnerable should stay home and avoid unnecessary contact. This advice has not changed and the need to move home should be balanced with the increased risks presented by Coronavirus. People that fall into the above categories should seek medical advice before committing to move home and if possible all parties involved should prioritise agreeing to amicable arrangements to delay completion.

How can Ellis Jones help?

Although some restrictions have been lifted, we understand that this may still be a stressful time for individuals and families currently in the process of buying or selling a property. If you have any questions please feel free to contact a member of our expert Conveyancing team on 01202 525333 or email conveyancingdept@ellisjones.co.uk.

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Leah Sharman
Leah Sharman