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The government reopens the property market with new guidelines for landlords and tenants

2-minute read

Mollie Millman

18 May 2020

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The property market officially reopened this week after estate agents were told they could restart viewings and people could move home.

But the process of buying and selling a home is going to look very different to how it looked before the coronavirus lockdown.

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “Tenants will now be able to look for a new home and move into it while those landlords who have unexpectedly faced empty properties will be able to put them back on the market.

“It is vital though that all viewings and house moves take place safely and in line with the Government’s guidance. We will continue to work with the Government, landlords and others to ensure the risks of spreading coronavirus are minimized.”

New guidelines for landlords and tenants

The government has issued official guidance about how to move house, including carrying out online viewings where possible. If you need to carry out physical viewings, you should maintain social distance.

In particular, the guidance has outlined specific measures for letting agents and private landlords. This clearly states that letting agents and landlords should prioritise tenants’ safety.

This means that they shouldn’t conduct viewings in properties where tenants are symptomatic or self-isolating.

And any visits to a property must be carried out in line with social distancing measures where people remain two metres apart where possible.

How to minimise physical contact

If a property needs repairs or gas and electrical safety checks before a new tenant moves in, the guidance recommends that they’re completed between a tenant moving out and a new one moving in.

It states: “If this is not possible and visits are needed to an occupied property, this should be done by appointment with measures put in place to ensure physical contact is minimized, for example with residents staying in another room during the visit.”

It also suggested landlords and tenants give letting agents consent to carry out inventory clerk appointments before a tenant moves in or after they move out.

Read about carrying out essential repairs and maintenance during the coronavirus pandemic.

What about cleaning and check-ins?

The government has also suggested that landlords and letting agents take steps to ensure properties are prepared for new tenants.

For example, this may include cleaning to help minimize the potential spread of the virus.

The official guidance also outlines how best to conduct tenancy check-ins for new tenancies, by using social distancing.

Reinvigorating the housing market

David Cox, chief executive of ARLA Propertymark, said: “It is great news for consumers and the industry that the housing market is being opened up and people can let, rent, buy and sell properties again.

“The new regulations provide clarity to agents and will allow them to deal with pent up demand from consumers. It’s also a step to reinvigorating the housing market and will be a boost to the economy.

“Safety of course will be paramount, and we would encourage everyone to ensure that they follow Government guidelines closely to protect others and themselves.”

Read the government advice on moving home.

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