Moving House During COVID-19

Guidance has been issued recently by the government with regards to buying and selling property for the public and the industry.

Following the announcement from the Prime Minister, a spokesperson said that homebuyers and renters should delay moving to a new house while emergency measures are in place. If moving is really unavoidable because of reasons such as parties unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must still observe social distancing. People should follow medical advice and not move house for the time being specifically, those who are symptomatic, observing self-isolation, or shielding from the virus.

If you’re representing someone who has exchanged contracts, has a nearing completion date, and all parties involved are able to proceed, there’s currently nothing to prevent you from doing so as it may be very difficult given the position with removal firms. This is subject to following recent guidelines in respect of public health:

If moving is necessary or if it really needs to push through, involved parties should see to it they follow the guidance on social distancing and hygiene from Public Health England.

  • properties whose occupants do not have cases, or suspected cases of, COVID-19;
  • occupants not in isolation; and
  • all parties following strict social distancing requirements.

During emergency or hardship cases, you will be able to move. You must be able to do this safely as the UK government has stipulated. All individuals involved during the move should be maintaining social distancing requirements. The property into which you are moving should also be safely vacated or empty.

There are legal obstacles to overcome due to restrictions at the Registers of Scotland where the deeds transferring ownership are registered even then. To proceed, the following criteria must be met:

  • prior registration of advance notice with the Registers of Scotland;
  • agreement to proceed from your lender; and
  • an available agent from the other end of the transaction to complete.

Your home is not yet on the market

It may be more challenging than usual to list out your home onto the market during these times.

You can make use of this time to start gathering all the data you need to provide potential purchasers with⁠—if in case you’re thinking about selling your property.

The general advisory for people to stay at home and avoid others means that you should not be inviting unnecessary visitors. These includes:

  • property agents carrying out a market appraisal;
  • property agents taking photographs to market your property; and
  • Energy Performance Certificate assessors.

If needed, reach out to estate agents via mobile or e-mail. Their general advice about the property and the market can also be dealt with remotely. Remember, though, that they cannot start marketing initiatives actively given the current situation.