Moving home during the coronavirus pandemic

What changes in the process of moving house can you expect?

Moving home during the coronavirus pandemic
Moving home during the coronavirus pandemic - what changes in the process of moving house can you expect?

The current government guidance on moving home during the coronavirus pandemic has important public health information. The guidance aims to support opening up the property market but in a safe way. This is not a return to normality and the process of finding and moving into a new home has to adapt.

All parties involved need to be as flexible as possible over this period and be prepared for changes such as delays caused if someone becomes ill with coronavirus during the process or has to self-isolate. Provisions in contracts need to be made to manage these risks as you cannot move into a home where people have coronavirus or are self-isolating.

1. Preparing to buy, sell or move home

You can begin to market your home to purchasers and you can start to look for properties. Estate agents are able to visit homes in order to take photos/videos of the property as long as the social distancing guidelines are followed. Most of your property searching should be done online; only physically viewing those properties which you are serious about.

2. Viewings

You should use virtual viewings before visiting properties in person where possible. All physical viewings should take place by appointment and only involve members of a single household. If anyone becomes ill then these will have to be delayed.

If your property is being viewed, try to open all the internal doors prior to the viewing, and allow access to handwashing facilities and ideally separate towels/paper towels. It is advisable to vacate your property whilst viewings are taking place and clean all surfaces when finished. If you are viewing a property, wash your hands and avoid touching surfaces where possible. Only those in your immediate household should be there.

3. Making offers or reservations

You are free to make or accept an offer or reserve a property as normal. However, there is a risk that parties may need to delay their move because someone is showing symptoms of coronavirus or self-isolating. We can advise you and help make sure that any contracts or agreements are as flexible as possible to accommodate this risk.

4. Property searches and surveys

We will carry out searches on your property online in order to progress your transaction and you can contact us to discuss likely timescales.

Your surveyor can undertake surveys of the property you wish to purchase. There are no restrictions on the types of survey and, as usual, you should discuss the options with the surveyor to understand the most appropriate type of survey. Inspections should take place by appointment only, with one person visiting the property at any time. If your home is being surveyed, you should ensure the surveyor has access to all the parts of the property they need to inspect, minimise contact with the surveyor and follow social distancing guidelines.

5. Agreeing to move

Once you have agreed to move home by exchanging contracts or signing a tenancy agreement, you have entered into a legal agreement. All parties need to be as flexible as possible and be prepared to delay the move if necessary. We can help you to ensure that any contract you enter into has sufficient flexibility to allow for delays if an individual in one of the parties contracts coronavirus or has to self-isolate.

6. Moving day

On the day of the move, the advice is that whilst the removers are in your home, you should ensure internal doors are open and minimise contact. Wash hands regularly and avoid touching surfaces where possible and don't provide refreshments. You will need to give them access to hand washing facilities so try to use separate towels or paper, which should be washed or disposed of safely afterwards.

As conveyancers, we have a duty to support you in the process as far as possible but also to make you aware of the difficulties of completing transactions at this time. House moves can still go ahead but they may take slightly longer and everyone involved in the moving process must follow social distancing guidance.

If you require advice on any of the issues raised in this article, please contact our Residential Conveyancing Team on 01733 882800 or email info@hcsolicitors.co.uk.

Author: Pippa Woodcock, Senior Conveyancing Executive

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This article has been prepared for general interest and information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. While all possible care has been taken in the preparation of this article, no responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by the firm or the authors.