Can you move home in lockdown?

With a national lockdown set to last until at least mid-February, the Government has issued new guidance rules. The good news is that home buyers and renters can still move home during lockdown, and property viewings can take place.

Below we outline some of the main points from the Government guidance to help keep you safe when viewing property or allowing others into your home for viewings.

How to view a property safely during Covid-19?

Before any viewing, it should be ascertained if anyone in your household has had COVID-19, or displayed COVID-19 symptoms. Anyone experiencing coronavirus symptoms should stay at home.

The current owner or tenants of any property being viewed by you should also have taken these same precautions, as should the agent if present at the viewing.

Initial viewings. These should be done virtually wherever possible. When visiting an agent’s office or viewing a property, you should wear a suitable face covering. Viewings should be arranged by appointment only and ‘open house’ viewings should not take place.

Travelling to and from viewings. You should use your own transport wherever possible. If you choose to walk, cycle or use public transport, use a face mask where required and maintain a 2m distance from anyone you aren’t living with.

When viewing properties in person, you should avoid touching surfaces wherever possible. Disposable gloves are a good idea. If you need to be accompanied by small children, try to keep them from touching surfaces and their face, and ensure they wash their hands regularly. 

Whether viewing a property or allowing others to view yours, maintain a 2m distance from people who are not members of your household. Again, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly when possible. Take hand sanitiser when viewing, or provide hand sanitiser for agents and viewers of your property.

When showing people around your home, open all internal doors and ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned before and after each viewing with standard household cleaning products. You should also vacate your property during viewings to minimise unnecessary contact.

Things to consider when buying houses during lockdown

When making offers or reservations, bear in mind that home moves may need to be delayed if someone involved shows symptoms of COVID-19 or is self-isolating. Try to ensure that contracts or agreements are as flexible as possible to accommodate this risk.

Revisiting a property. Prospective purchasers or renters might want to revisit a property after agreeing a sale, for example to measure up. Where this has been agree, you should observe the same hygiene and social distancing measures as above.

Arranging for tradespeople to visit. Try to schedule for one person to visit the property at a time, but don’t allow visits if a member of the household is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or self-isolating. During a tradesperson visit, you should maintain social distancing, wash your hands regularly and minimise contact. 

Property searches and surveys. It should be possible for property searches to be carried out online. In the case of surveys, a surveyor should not enter a property where a member of the household is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or self-isolating. Where possible, inspections should take place by appointment only, with one person visiting the property at any time.

Agreeing to move. Once contracts have been exchanged or a tenancy agreement signed, all parties should try to be as flexible as possible and be prepared to delay moves, for example if someone becomes ill with COVID-19 during the moving process or has to self-isolate. You should not move into a home where people are ill or self-isolating.

How to safely move houses during lockdown

Moving between properties. Removal firms can work as usual, but should follow social distancing guidelines and hygiene measures where possible. You should try to do as much of the packing yourself as you can. You should clean your belongings with standard domestic cleaning products before they are handled by others, including removal firms.

While the removers are in your home, keep any internal doors open and try to minimise contact with the removers, maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres where possible. Ensure removers have access to hand washing facilities and/or use hand sanitiser. They should use separate towels or paper towels if possible, which should be washed or safely disposed of afterwards.

You can find full advice on, or get in touch with one of the expert team at Louis Taylor.