The government has clarified its position on house moves, advising that home buyers and renters should, as far as possible, delay moving home until the Coronavirus crisis has abated.
Estate agent will be relieved that the government has not implemented an outright ban, enabling ongoing transactions to be completed and fees collected.
The government says ongoing sales and rental house moves can proceed “if moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay”.
Industry consultant Andrew Stanton says: “Most estate agencies are sitting on sales fee pipelines of between £80,000 and £120,000 on average, so getting these existing transactions over the line is going to crucial for their cashflow.”
If the house move does proceed, the government says people must follow advice on social distancing to minimise the spread of the virus.
“Anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, should follow medical advice and not move home for the time being,” the advice ads.
The guidance also allows tradespeople to continue repairs and maintenance work, “provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms”
“Again, it will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a two metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety,” the advice says.
“No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so.”
Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals (left), says: “It makes perfect sense, in that, the stricter we are with adhering to the measurements put in place to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the better. However, it is good that the government has recognised that where there are contractual obligations that are unavoidable, people can move provided they follow the necessary health precautions.”
“In the case where there is no contractual obligation, parties will need to be in contact with their estate agent or letting agent and negotiate an extension.”