The start of 2021 saw the UK enter into a third national lockdown, in an attempt to mitigate rising levels of COVID-19 cases. Unlike the first lockdown of March 2020, the housing market has been allowed to remain open, which will come as a great relief to anyone who intends to carry out a property transaction over the coming months.
The current guidelines allow for the following people to make arrangements and move homes, without breaking lockdown restrictions:
- Anyone who is already part-way through a home purchase
- People who have already completed a purchase and are ready to move home
- People who have just started searching for a new home to purchase
- Private renters looking to move
- Buy to let landlords letting our residential property
However, this is not to say that anyone intending to move homes should not do so without taking certain precautions. Preventing the potential spread of COVID-19 should still remain a top priority, which means movers will need to take essential precautions such as limiting face-to-face meetings, practicing social distancing, regular handwashing and wearing face coverings where necessary.
For up-to-date information, you should consult government guidance on reducing transmission.
Leaving your home to carry out a property transaction
Under lockdown laws, it is against the law to leave your home unless you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ for doing so. Fortunately, activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting residential property is deemed to be a ‘reasonable excuse’. This means that you will be able to view properties in person, as well as meeting agents to help organise a transaction.
Tips for moving home during the third lockdown
The government has set out extensive guidance for anyone who is planning to move homes, helping to ensure that people remain as safe as possible.
Working with your conveyancer and estate agent
- It is important to speak to your estate agent, solicitor and any other relevant party for their COVID-19 policies and how they intend to keep you and their employees safe.
- Where possible, conduct meetings using video conferencing rather than in person.
- If a face-to-face meeting is required (e.g. for mortgage documents to be witnessed), follow government guidance on reducing COVID-19 transmission.
- Prepare to be as flexible as possible and be ready for delays to your move.
- Discuss the impact of COVID-19 on your home move with your conveyancer and consider whether agreements should be made with other parties to account for certain risks.
- Be prepared for certain external delays, such as delays to conveyancing searches and Land Registry registrations.
- Discuss whether virtual viewings of a property are possible.
- If physical viewings take place, they should strictly be by appointment only.
- ‘Open house’ viewings should not be conducted.
- Be selective about the properties you view. For example, you should only go to visit a home you think you will realistically make an offer on.
- When you are selling a home, and are holding viewings, you should:
- Vacate the property when the viewing is taking place.
- Practice social distancing.
- Provide access to handwashing facilities.
- Clean all surfaces (such as door handles) thoroughly after each viewing
- If you are ‘between homes’ during a move, you are able to stay at a hotel or other public accommodation.
- If your main residence is unavailable, you will be able to stay at a second residence you own.
- You should not stay at a home with people who are not in your household or support bubble.
- Limit the use of a removal company where possible. If you need to use a removal company, you should speak to them as soon as possible to make suitable arrangements.
- You should not go ahead with a property transaction if you:
- Have COVID-19 symptoms
- Have tested positive for COVID-19
- Are waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test
- Have come in close contact with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive
If any of the above applies, you should follow Government guidance to self-isolate.
If you worried about how COVID-19 might affect your property transaction, you should speak to your solicitor, estate agent and any other parties involved to ensure that you and your loved ones are kept safe.
Get practical advice about moving home during the third COVID-19 lockdown
At Braddon and Snow, our residential conveyancing solicitors can work alongside you to help you complete your property transaction, providing advice and guidance in relation to COVID-19 restrictions.
We will take all possible steps to make the conveyancing process as straightforward as possible, taking the necessary precautions to keep our team and clients safe, such as replacing face-to-face meetings with video meetings where possible.
If you would like to get in touch to discuss any concerns you might have and what else we can do for you to help you feel comfortable, do not hesitate to get in touch: