Can I move house in lockdown? The rules explained

MOVING house is always stressful, but with the constantly changing coronavirus rules, it can be hard to know what's allowed.

Boris Johnson tonight ordered everyone in England to stay at home until mid-February under emergency shut down measures.

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The lockdown is expected to last at least six weeks to stop the spread of a contagious mutant strain of Covid-19.

Under the rules all non-essential retailers must shut, along with lots of other UK businesses.

If you're in the middle of buying a new house or thinking about moving, here's what the rules say is allowed.

Can I move house during lockdown?

The good news is that you can still move house during England's lockdown.

The only new restriction is that people outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house "unless absolutely necessary."

Estate agents, valuers and removals firms can keep operating – so you should be able to continue your search for a new home.

The rules also say that estate agents can visit your home to take photos and videos of your property so that you can put it on the market.

The guidance says that initial viewings should be done virtually and that in-person viewings are only allowed when buyers are seriously considering buying a property.

Viewings should be arranged by appointment only and ‘open house’ viewings are no longer allowed.

Once you've found a property you like, you'll need to carry out a survey as usual.

There are no restrictions on the types of survey that can be carried out, and the government has advised that you speak with your surveyor to find outthe most appropriate option for your new house.

If you're selling, you need to give full access to the parts of the property that need to be inspected by surveyors. You should try and minimise contact by staying in another room.

When it comes to moving day, you are still allowed to hire a removals company. However, there's no guarantee of availability so you should try and book one as early as possible.

If you can't get a removal firm, the government has said that another household can help, but that social distancing should be followed where possible.

You're allowed to book into a hotel to help you move home, but lots are closed so you should check well in advance.

How do I stay safe when moving home?

The government has issued guidance on how you can stay safe when either viewing a home or moving.

It states that the public should regularly wash their hands and observe social distancing as much as possible throughout the whole process.

If you are visiting an agent’s office or viewing a property, you should wear aface covering unless you are exempt.

If you are looking round a house in person, you need to avoid touching surfaces.

If your house is on the market, you should clean your surfaces and door handles before and after each viewing. You should also open all internal doors and allow access to handwashing facilities.

The government recommends that you leave your property while viewings are taking place to minimise unnecessary contact.

If a prospective buyer needs to, they can arrange for tradespeople to carry out inspections of the property. These should be scheduled in advance, with one person visiting at a time.

If tradesperson is visiting your home, you need to minimise contact as far as possible, for example by staying in another room. 

Before moving day, you need to do as much of the packing yourself as you can. The government is also asking people to clean their belongings before they are handled by removers or another household.

On the day of your move, you should open all your internal doors and minimise contact with the removers. Thegovernment says you shouldn't offer them a cuppa, but you must make sure they have access to handwashing facilities.

What happens if I get coronavirus or have to self-isolate when I had planned to move?

If you have symptoms of coronavirus or if you have a positive test, you need to isolate at home for ten days.

You may also be asked to isolate if you return home from another country or if you are contacted by track and trace.

This could cause headaches if you have to enter isolation when you are due to move.

The government guidance says: "If you are contractually committed to move home, you should seek to delay your move until all members of your household have come to the end of their self-isolation period."

It states that everyone involved in the move must prioritise flexibility around moving and completion dates if someone is in self-isolation.

The rules also suggest that people buying or selling homes should ask their legal adviser to make sure that contracts are as flexible as possible to accommodate delays due to the pandemic.

If your home is on the market, estate agents, tradespeople and potential buyers should not visit your property in person if you have coronavirus, are showing symptoms or are isolating.


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