On Monday 12th October, the government announced a tiered system of national COVID alert levels to manage local outbreaks and advise local authorities and residents on what they can do. With different alert levels having their own restrictions, landlords and tenants are now wondering if move-ins and property viewings can go ahead.
- Can move-ins continue in High or Very High alert level areas?
- Can property viewings go ahead in High or Very High alert level areas?
How do the local COVID alert levels work?
The new framework has three alert levels: Medium, High and Very High.
Every area of the UK is categorised accordingly. The Medium alert level is for areas where national restrictions continue to be in place: including abiding by the Rule of Six and pubs and restaurants closing at 10 pm.
In High alert areas – where infection rates are increasing – all Medium level rules must be followed alongside additional restrictions. The main difference being that those in High level alert areas “must not socialise with anybody outside of your household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place”.
The Very High alert level is for areas with extremely high level of infections. Tighter restrictions are in place and residents are advised: “not socialise with anybody you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting or in any private garden or at most outdoor hospitality venues and ticketed events”.
The full list of restrictions for each level can be found here: GOV.UK Local COVID Alert Levels: What You Need to Know.
To find out the alert level in you area or somewhere you are travelling to, you can enter the postcode here.
Can I move house in High or Very High alert level areas?
The simple answer is yes, you can.
Although government guidance states you must not socialise with anyone beyond your household or support bubble – moving house is an exemption.
Letting agents and removal firms can continue to work, but strict COVID safety measured must be followed. This includes:
- Wearing face coverings
- Keeping 2 metres apart from those not in your household
- Washing and sanitising hands regularly
If you do hire a removal service, you should also:
- Try and do as much as packing yourself as possible
- Clean your belongings before and after they are handled by others
- Keep internal doors open to avoid door handles being touched
- Ensure removers have access to hand washing facilities, but avoid offering refreshments
Find a professional removal service in your area with Bark.
Whilst move-ins can go ahead, it’s important to bear in mind that the process may take longer than usual and there may be delays if someone involved contracts coronavirus or has to self-isolate.
Can property viewings go ahead in High or Very High alert areas?
Although the government advice is to “not socialise with anybody you do not live with“, in-person property viewings are allowed to go ahead.
To minimise health risks, the government recommends that virtual viewings are carried out where possible. If property viewings and visits are unavoidable – it must be ensured that all households involved have no symptoms of COVID-19 or are self-isolating.
Again, COVID safety measures should be followed, including wearing a face covering and keeping at least 2 metres apart.
If you are a landlord with a property viewing coming up, you should:
- Book viewings in advance and not have open house events
- Give your existing tenant (if you have one) plenty of notice and ensure they are comfortable with visitors
- Sanitise your hands thoroughly before entering the property
- If possible, schedule all your viewings on the same day so that you are not repeatedly visiting the property
- If possible, ask your current tenant if they are happy for viewings to take place whilst they are out of the house to avoid crowding
- Wait outside whilst the prospective tenants look around the property
- Ensure all internal doors are open to reduce door handle contact
- Wear a face covering and ask visitors to do the same (unless exemptions apply)
- Ensure handwashing facilities are available
If you are a potential tenant visiting a property, you should:
- Wear a face covering (unless you are exempt)
- Wash or sanitise your hands before and after visiting the property
- Avoid touching anything in the property where possible