Amendments to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 - which came into force on 13 May 2020 - have relaxed restrictions affecting moving home and the buying and selling of property. We explore what has changed and what this means for housing providers, below.

What has changed?

The relaxations to paragraph 6 of Regulations now make it lawful to undertake:

“any of the following activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property—

(i) visiting estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes;

(ii) viewing residential properties to look for a property to buy or rent;

(iii) preparing a residential property to move in;

(iv) moving home;

(v) visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property;”

Accordingly, social landlords will be looking to restart mutual exchanges, as well as their wider lettings and sales operations.

Is it back to “business as usual”?

As with so many aspects of life as we all grapple our way through this pandemic, it will be anything other than ‘business as usual’.

Providers will need to consider the general guidance on social distancing in the workplace and on making workplaces “COVID-secure”.  

Additionally, there is also specific non-statutory guidance on moving home during COVID-19 which applies to people moving into homes in both the private or social sector which must be considered.

This latter guidance advises on the protective measures that should be taken at various stages of the sales and letting process including:

  • considering conducting initial viewings as ‘virtual viewings’,
  • preventing “open house” viewings
  • limiting the number of people at physical viewings to those who “absolutely have to be there”
  • cleaning the Property after each viewing.

Specific advice is provided to social landlords emphasising that:

  • Applicants and tenants should not feel pressured to move if they are anxious about doing so;
  • Landlords should discuss with applicants and tenants their state of health, any vulnerabilities and their moving arrangements (including any assistance that might be required) before proceeding with a move;
  • Landlords should avoid moving tenants who are showing symptoms of coronavirus or self-isolating – although it is recognised that public health and safety considerations may give rise to an exception to this principle;
  • Landlords should also avoid moving residents who are shielding because they are in the “clinically extremely vulnerable” group – although, if necessary to move, landlords are advised to speak to the local Public Health team for advice on appropriate measures to protect the resident.

How can we help?

Capsticks provides the full range of services on landlord and tenant matters, housing advisory law, as well as leasehold and shared ownership issues to hundreds of providers nationwide. If you have any questions about the content of this article, or need further advice on one of the issues addressed, please contact Simon Strelitz, or any of your contacts at Capsticks, to find out how we can help your organisation.