The Government has recently announced plans to get the English housing market moving again. With effect from 13 May 2020, amendments to the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 now allow prospective tenants and buyers, as well as landlords and vendors and their estate agents, to:

  1. View residential properties in order to find a property to buy or rent.
  2. Prepare a residential property to move in.
  3. Move home.
  4. Visit residential properties to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of the property, such as EPC assessments and surveys.
Whilst this means that restrictions on the housing market have eased, people’s individual safety and wellbeing of everyone involved remains paramount. As such the number of physical viewings allowed per day will be restricted, and only if there is a serious intention to rent or buy. Open house viewings, which were becoming increasingly popular, remain forbidden.
People involved in viewings will also still need to comply with wider restrictions, meaning that no viewings can be conducted where the inhabitants are symptomatic or self-isolating, social distancing must be followed, and estate agents, who will be required to wear masks and gloves, will sanitise doors and switches before and after viewings. Homeowners will also need to vacate the property while viewings take place.
The decision to slightly relax restrictions and try and re-stimulate the housing market was largely welcomed, particularly by housing associations with high levels of homes for private market sale and shared ownership. We expect the governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to follow England’s lead in due course.