More detail on the steps of buying, selling or renting a home and how this applies to different groups is set out in the next section.
What does this mean for my property move or purchase which is scheduled whilst measures to fight COVID-19 apply?
You are free to move home. However, you may find the process of searching for and moving into a new home is different, as property agents, conveyancers, and other professionals have modified how they work to reduce the risk from COVID-19.
- Initial viewings should be done virtually wherever possible. Property agents should be able to help you with this.
- Members of the public who are visiting an agent’s office or viewing a property should wear a suitable face covering as described in government guidance unless they are exempt from this requirement. This should be confirmed with the agent before arrival. Anyone with concerns should contact the agent in advance of their visit to discuss appropriate measures. The agent may require you to arrange an appointment before visiting the premises.
- All physical viewings where prospective buyers or renters will be entering the property should involve no more than 2 households inside the property at any one time. This includes any agent accompanying either party. Anyone in a support bubble with either household, however, will count as part of that household. Please read the latest guidance on indoor gatherings and support bubbles.
- Where prospective buyers who are currently from separate households wish to view the property on the same occasion, we advise that one household leaves the property to allow the other to enter. This allows for both households to view the property and ensures social distancing.
- Viewings should be arranged by appointment only and ‘open house’ viewings should not take place. When viewing properties in person, you should avoid touching surfaces wherever possible, wash your hands regularly and/or use hand sanitiser. If you need to be accompanied by small children, you should try to keep them from touching surfaces and ensure they wash their hands regularly.
- If people are being shown around your home, you should open all internal doors and ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned after each viewing with standard household cleaning products.
- We recommend that you vacate your property while viewings are taking place in order to minimise unnecessary contact.
- Anyone involved in any aspect of the home-moving process should practice social distancing in line with public health advice.
- When moving between properties, you and those in your household should try to do as much of the packing yourself as you can. Where this is not possible, you should speak to removal firms in advance. There is further advice about this below. If you are particularly worried about the risk of infection, then speak to your landlord, estate agent or removers as they may be able to put extra precautionary measures in place.
Everyone involved in the moving process must follow social distancing to minimise the spread of COVID-19
Moving your belongings
Removal firms are able to carry out work but their usual procedures may be different to ensure moves take place as safely as possible. To help with long-distance moves, you can stay overnight away from your home with your own household or support bubble in line with the latest guidance on staying over anywhere other than your main residence.
- There is no guarantee your chosen removal firm will be operating at the time you require. We encourage you to contact removal firms as early as possible in advance of your move date.
- If removal firms are unavailable, another household can help you move your belongings, but social distancing guidelines and hygiene measures should be followed where possible.
- You and your household should also try and do as much of the packing yourself as possible. However, where you are using a removals firm, you may wish to get their advice on packing in advance, in particular the arrangements for packing fragile items.
- We ask that, where possible, you clean your belongings with standard domestic cleaning products before they are handled by others, including removal firms.
- While the removers are in your home, you should ensure any internal doors are open and try to minimise your contact with the removers, maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres where possible.
- All parties should wash their hands regularly and/or use hand sanitiser and should avoid touching surfaces where possible to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19.
- You should not provide refreshments but you should ensure removers have access to handwashing facilities, using separate towels or paper towels if possible, which should be washed or safely disposed of afterwards.
Removal firms are allowed to operate and should follow the latest government guidance on safer working. Where moves are carried out, social distancing should be followed. Companies should ensure employees understand how to operate safely and communicate this to customers.
- Removers should contact the household in advance to check that no member of the household is showing symptoms of coronavirus or self-isolating. If they are, works should be delayed.
- They should also encourage households to ensure all internal doors are open and surfaces and possessions have been cleaned with household cleaning products prior to them entering the property.
- No work should be carried out by a person who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.
- Removers should wash their hands on entering the property using separate towels of paper towels which need to be washed or disposed of safely after use.
- Removers should seek to minimise contact with homeowners and, where possible, remain 2 metres apart from householders at all times.
- Removers should implement a buddy system and ensure that the same people work together when moving bulky items and furniture.
- Removers should bring their own refreshments but you should ensure they have access to handwashing facilities, using separate towels or paper towels if possible, which should be washed or disposed of safely afterwards.
- Removers should also make sure they have read the latest guidance on travelling safely.