As we enter yet another national lockdown many will be relieved to hear that, unlike the first lockdown of March 2020, the housing market is allowed to stay open this time around. This means that the following people are all able to make arrangements and move house without breaking lockdown restrictions:
- People who are part-way through a house purchase (those looking to complete before the Land Transaction Tax and Stamp Duty holiday ends in March 2021 will be particularly relieved)
- People who have already completed and are looking to move home
- People who have just started looking for a new home to purchase
- Private renters looking to move home or change tenants
- Buy to let landlords letting out residential property
However, as Covid-19/coronavirus continues to put everyone at risk, home movers of course need to remember to take all possible precautions. This includes limiting face-to-face meetings and house viewings wherever possible, maintaining regular handwashing, social distancing, and wearing face coverings around people who are not members of your household (read the Government guidance on reducing transmission risk here).
‘Stay at home’ order and moving home
Under the new national lockdown rules, it is against the law to leave your home unless you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. Activities relating to buying, selling, letting or renting residential property count as ‘reasonable excuses’ under the lockdown law. This means that you can view properties, meet with solicitors, estate agents and other relevant parties, and move home.
Tips for moving home during the third lockdown
Although home moves are allowed to go ahead, the Government has set out extensive guidance for everyone involved, including:
Working with your conveyancer and estate agent
- Ask your estate agent, solicitor and other relevant parties for their policies on Covid-19 and how they will keep you and their employees safe.
- Conduct meetings online as far as possible.
- If a face-to-face meeting is need, for example, to get your mortgage documents witnessed, follow the Government guidance on reducing Covid-19 transmission risk and comply with the law.
- Be as flexible as possible and be prepared to delay your move. For example, if someone in your chain catches Covid-19 and has to self-isolate.
- Discuss the possible impact of Covid-19 on your home move with your conveyancer and consider whether agreements need to be made with the other parties to account for these risks.
- Be prepared for delays, for example, with local authority searches, independent surveys and Land Registry registrations.
- Explore the possibility of virtual viewings to avoid the need to visit other people’s homes.
- Viewings should be by appointment only and ‘open houses’ should not be conducted.
- If you are buying a home, be selective about which homes you go to view. Do your initial research online and only arrange a viewing if you think you might realistically make an offer.
- If you are selling your home and having people round for viewings, you should:
- Open windows and all internal doors before each viewing
- Make sure all internal doors and surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned after each viewing
- Allow access to handwashing facilities and provide disposable paper towels or separate towels
- Vacate the property during the viewing if possible to reduce contact
- Practice social distancing
Workers in your home
- If you need tradespeople or surveyors to visit your new home, arrange for them to visit on different days and follow the Government’s Safer Working guidance
- If you are ‘between homes’, you are allowed to stay at a hotel, hostel or other public accommodation.
- If you have a second residence, you should only stay there if your main residence is unavailable (for example, because you have completed on the sale but not yet completed on your purchase).
- You should not stay at a home which is not your main or second residence with people outside your household or support bubble.
- When moving home, try to do as much of the packing yourself as possible. If that is not possible, make sure you speak to your removals company before the move date
- You should not move home if you have:
- Symptoms of Covid-19
- Received a positive Covid-19 test
- Come into contact with someone who has symptoms or has received a positive test
- If the above applies, you must self-isolate in line with the Government guidance
Finally, if you are particularly worried about Covid-19, make sure you speak to your solicitor, estate agent or other relevant party. They will be happy to take all possible precautions to keep you safe.
Get practical advice about moving house in the third Covid-19 lockdown
Early 2021 is anticipated to be a busy time for the housing market, especially as people seek to complete their purchases before the Land Transaction Tax and Stamp Duty holiday ends at the end of March 2021.
At hpjv Solicitors, our team of friendly conveyancing solicitors in Newport are here to provide all the advice and support you need about moving house at this time. We will take all possible steps to make the experience as smooth and straightforward as possible for you, reducing unnecessary stress and delay wherever we can. We are working as normal during the Covid-19 pandemic, and have taken the necessary precautions to keep our team and clients safe, such as replacing face-to-face meetings with video or phone meetings. We are also more than happy to discuss any concerns with you and what else we can do to help you feel comfortable during your time with us.