14 May, 2020
Yesterday , 13th May, the UK Government announced that it had changed the regulations to allow people in England to move home again, where social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures can be safely observed.
The Secretary of State, The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, said:
“From today anyone in England can move house if they follow new guidance we have published on GOV.UK.
When the lockdown was announced in March, we changed the rules so that people could only move home if they thought it was “reasonably necessary”.
That meant that more than 450,000 buyers had to put their plans on hold.
And each month 300,000 tenancies come up for renewal as well.
A significant proportion of these will result in people needing to or wanting to move home. The pressure to move for some was becoming acute, with serious legal, financial and health implications.
During an already very difficult time, these people have been stuck in limbo. Now they can carry on with their house moves and add some certainty to their lives.”
The changes mean that from 13th May:
- estate agents’ offices now open;
- viewings – whether virtual or in person – are permitted.
- show homes can open; and
- removal companies and the other essential parts of the sales and letting process are re-started with immediate effect
The guidelines provide that, in the first instance, viewings should happen virtually. When viewings do happen in person, the guidance includes requirements to ensure the safety of those already in the property, those considering moving in and property agents:
- Visits are by appointment only, open house viewings cannot take place, and speculative viewings where buyers or tenants are not serious yet, are highly discouraged;
- All parties follow strict social distancing guidelines;
- All internal doors should be opened where possible;
- The current occupier vacates the property for the duration of the visit;
- All involved in the process wash their hands upon entering the property; and
- When the viewing is complete, all surfaces in the property, including door handles, should be thoroughly cleaned.
To “get back to building again”, the Secretary of State announced that more flexible working hours on construction sites will now be allowed to support safe house building.
A Charter, co-produced by the Government and the Home Building Federation, to enable housebuilders to make a common commitment to operate in line with Government safe working guidance has been published. Signatories to the Charter have publicly committed to safe working practices in accordance with Government and Construction Leadership Council guidance.
The need for the efficient operation of the planning system was also highlighted by the Secretary of State , who wants the Planning Inspectorate to be at the forefront of work seeing site visits and the use of digital technology and virtual meetings becoming the norm in planning casework.
LEASE’s Chair, Wanda Goldwag, welcomed the announcements saying:
“For both leaseholders, prospective leaseholders, and the construction industry, this is very positive news. We will support our leasehold customers to understand the announcements, particularly as regards the housing market, as we know that covid-19 has impacted their buying and selling decisions.”