EYE NEWSFLASH: Government publishes advice on home moving

Agents have been told they can reopen branches but are advised to avoid open house viewings and to favour virtual tours first.

The Ministry of Housing has just updated its buying and selling guidance after saying the property market could reopen this morning.

It said estate agents can open for business but should consider how and when to reopen so they can follow Government guidance on safe working,

The guidance said:

  • Agents should ask whether any party is showing symptoms or has been asked to self-isolate before going ahead with any viewing, or visits to offices.
  • Agents should operate using an appointment system for visits to their offices and when conducting viewings.
  • Agents should not carry out any open house viewings.
  • Agents should strongly encourage clients to view properties virtually in the first instance and then only physically inspect properties which they have a strong interest in.
  • Agents can accompany physical viewings and seek to maintain a minimum of 2 metres distance from others wherever possible. Where social distancing is not possible and the visit is within an enclosed space, they should consider wearing a face covering in line with government guidance.
  • Where they do not accompany the visit, they should make sure that both buyers and sellers clearly understand how the viewing should be conducted safely.
  • Agents should not drive clients to appointments.
  • All parties viewing a property should wash their hands with soap and water (or hand sanitiser if not available) immediately after entering the properties, with internal doors opened and surfaces having been wiped down before they enter. Separate towels or paper towels should be used if possible and washed or disposed of safely after use.
  • Agents should do what they can to promote flexibility when arranging move dates, for example advising clients to ensure contracts have explicit terms to manage the timing risks presented by coronavirus.
  • Agents should work with their clients and other agents to broker a new date to move where sales are due to complete and one of the parties falls ill with coronavirus or has to self-isolate.
  • Agents should ensure that any keys are appropriately cleaned before handover.

There is also guidance for sellers when their property is being viewed such as vacating the property, opening all internal doors and allowing access to handwashing facilities, ideally with separate towels.

All parties viewing a property are also advised to wash their hands and avoid touching surfaces.

Social distancing guidelines must be followed during the viewings and there should be minimal contact with the household.

Once the viewing has taken place, the home owner should ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned with standard household cleaning products and towels disposed of safely or washed as appropriate, the guidance said.

Letting agents and private landlords must follow the same guidance on viewings.

It said:

  • Private landlords and letting agents should not conduct viewings in properties where tenants are symptomatic or self-isolating, or where it has been determined that they are clinically extremely vulnerable and are shielding.
  • In other cases, where viewings can proceed, they should be conducted in line with the guidance on viewings earlier in this document.
  • Any visits to a property must be made in accordance with Government’s guidelines on working in other people’s homes and social distancing.
  • If possible, necessary repairs, gas and electrical safety checks should be conducted in the period between a property being vacated and a new tenant moving in. 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 minimised, for example with residents staying in another room during the visit.
  • Landlords should make every effort to abide by gas and electrical safety requirements. This may be more difficult due to restrictions associated with the coronavirus outbreak, for example where a tenant has coronavirus symptoms, is self-isolating or shielding. Under such circumstances, provided the landlord can demonstrate they have taken reasonable steps to comply, they would not be in breach. Letting agents may also want to consider obtaining landlord and tenant consent for inventory clerk appointments to also occur before a tenant moves in or after a tenant moves out during vacant periods if possible.
  • Letting agents and landlords should take steps to ensure any properties are prepared ready for new tenants, this may include cleaning to minimise any potential spread of the virus in line with Government advice.
  • Letting agents and landlords should consider how best to conduct tenancy check-ins for new tenancies agreed while broader measures remain in place, taking care to follow Government advice on social distancing to minimise possible spread of coronavirus.
  • Letting agents and landlords are reminded of the temporary COVID-19 measures that adjust right to rent checks, temporarily allowing these checks to be conducted remotely. Lettings agents and landlords should consider other areas where in person payments, referencing or checks can be conducted remotely instead and take further advice if required.

Full document is here.

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51 Comments

  1. GPL

     

    Filled with “Common Sense”.

     

     

     

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  2. MH -RM

    First reaction.. 1. Totally impractical 2. There will be no real business to begin with …furlough ??? how/what/where. 3. Half my staff have their kids at home … what are they going to do with them? 4. Its not safe to carry out a full on day of agency activity. 5. I need a Haircut 5. The housing minister is a complete f***wit. Been out this morning and looked through the window of a few agents …nothing in place in regards to safety measures so totally unprepared for this ridiculous and dangerous directive.       

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    1. Malcolm Egerton

      You do realise that we now know only those with pre-existing conditions and/or obese are at risk? What ‘safety measures’ do you think normal healthy people need to adopt? It is now down to those in at-risk categories to properly isolate themselves while the rest of us get back to work PDQ.

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      1. MH -RM

        Malcolm/Golfer … enough said.

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        1. Malcolm Egerton

          Quite – keeps me from getting obese.

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          1. J1

            If I make myself obese can I stay off work please?

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            1. Malcolm Egerton

              Seriously?

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              1. WiltsAgent

                I look forward to hearing how you get on asking clients on the phone if they are obese or not prior to booking an appointment. I guess we’ll need a form demanding their BMI.

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                1. Malcolm Egerton

                  Why are so many agents looking for an excuse not to sell houses? It’s straightforward – print out a form asking clients to confirm that they are not in any at-risk group (categories available – just google) and include obesity – if they consider themselves not to be obese (as so many apparently do) then that’s their lookout.

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  3. AgencyInsider

    This absolutely typifies the abysmal abilities of this government, most of its ministers, and probably all the civil servants involved.

    The handling of this reopening of the market has been disjointed, incoherent and hopeless.

    Dribbling out piecemeal information that is riddled with holes and open to all sorts of interpretation, and springing news without warning is a clear sign this useless mob are completely out of their depth and floundering. They could not run the proverbial party in a brewery.

    It would be laughable except that their combined incompetence has cost, and will cost more, lives.

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    1. Malcolm Egerton

      And your solution?

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      1. MH -RM

        Go to the garden centre instead.

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  4. paulnewboy26

    But I still cannot visit my Mum in her garden?  #bonkers

     

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    1. Malcolm Egerton

      Use common sense. I am playing golf with three perfectly fit and healthy over-70s in the next three days.

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    2. GPL

      Go and visit your Mum. Common Sense and rigorous attention to all the “safety/hygiene” advice …..goes without saying.

      I have to visit my 86 yr old Mother every week, nearly 200 mile round trip, to ensure she is stocked with supplies, take her out for a proper walk and ensure her mental wellbeing is cared for.

      Where did Adult Common Sense go? …..are we to be defined by the failings of the minority?

       

       

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      1. Malcolm Egerton

        Couldn’t agree more.

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      2. paulnewboy26

        My point is GPL – WE are not permitted to visit parents and sit in the garden……but I have three viewings this afternoon with f@@k knows who, as long as they have gloves on !!!. You know where I was coming from….what a p@@s poor role out from a P@@s poor minister.

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        1. Malcolm Egerton

          You do get the fundamental difference between ‘essential economic activity’ and ‘visiting your mum’?
          Personally, as long as my mum had no pre-existing conditions and was not overweight, I’d be visiting her.

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          1. JC46

            All economic activity is essential.
            Someone filling up their car at the petrol station, on their way to their mums, plays a part in the petrol station worker keeping their job. I’m sure that activity is essential to their cause.

             

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  5. Malcolm Egerton

    I am surprised at the negative comments by some agents on the related article. Besides exercising your normal duty of care to staff and clients alike I would have thought everyone was itching to get going again. Just apply common sense. Perhaps getting clients and viewers to sign a form confirming that they are not in an ‘at-risk’ category and keeping at-risk staff on furlough?

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    1. JC46

      It would be interesting to know whether or not agency owners are fearful of claims from Covid infections as a result of their ‘non essential’ work.

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      1. Malcolm Egerton

        No business can possibly be held liable for someone contracting a virus.

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        1. JC46

          I hope you are right! 

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  6. MH -RM

    sensible words but although we are all eager to get going I assume (maybe wrongly) that you are not operating in a built up city… Different animal sir.

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  7. Me25017973

    Never heard so many people moaning about getting back to work , it’s a simple mindset , And simple change to the new model to come , clearly a number of people are very happy with the government payout , well my payout does not even cover my mortgage or bills and for the last 9 weeks I have spent most of my nights worrying about how I am going to pay the next bill or feed my family, if I had an email right now to go into work “safely” my suit would be on

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    1. MH -RM

      Golf/Suit … hmmm 

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    2. JC46

      Sorry to hear it’s impacting you so negatively. I hope you manage to turn things around.

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  8. Malcolm Egerton

    Agents too scared to sell houses? Whoopee for those man enough.

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    1. Robert_May

      Sorry Malcolm but “man enough”? we had a total 19 deaths (excluding care homes) in Devon , Cornwall and Somerset because we have observed #lockdown properly and responsibly. At 4:30 this morning the first of the vistors rumbled past the house on their way to the beach bringing goodness knows what with them.

      They are bringing  COVID  through our front door. Most people here are 66+, there is a single hospital covering an area larger than greater London

       

      Guess where the 2nd wave is going to hit first and hardest and it will likely be introduced by people looking to escape the   London and the home counties.

       

      There are both HR and Health and safety consideration to consider before you start accusing anyone of not being brave enough to  open for business as usual.

       

      Responsible business owners  giving consideration for their staff, clients and applicant cannot afford your level of confidence.  People are genuinely in fear of a virus that kills far too many of those who get it..

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  9. MH -RM

    Tweed Suit ?

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    1. Malcolm Egerton

      If you want to reply to a comment just hit ‘Leave a reply’ 😉

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  10. J1

    I have given up golf to concentrate on getting fat
     
    It is the point of this discussion isnt it?

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  11. AgentV

    I will say one thing above all….don’t take any chances with this virus. If you saw the inside of a Nightingale Hospital you would understand what was expected and prepared for….rows and rows of beds, thankfully all empty, but nevertheless an emotional rollercoaster to witness.

    The last thing we want is a second wave that fills them! Yes the NHS coped first time around, but just think of the number of people who will die because they didn’t have correct diagnosis of something soon enough, or didn’t want to go to hospital when they were having a heart attack. It will take months, if not years for the NHS to catch up with elective operations which had to be cancelled.

    So all I am saying is we should do whatever we can to mitigate risks, and not take any undue risks.

     

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    1. JC46

      That may be the view that some people take (to not take the risk) and that’s fine. Those who do feel fine taking the risk shouldn’t be compelled otherwise. We all take risks every day, the point is, you should be allowed to take them.

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      1. AgentV

        We all take risks every day, the point is, you should be allowed to take them.
         
        Agreed, but the difference is the risks you normally take every day only affect you. We should never forget that the 300,000 Covid-19 deaths worldwide originated from one person….one person! 

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        1. Malcolm Egerton

          A bat – to be precise. What are you going to do next time flu hits? Shut your business?

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          1. AgentV

            Coronavirus (Covid-19) is totally unlike flu in the way it is transmitted and the damage it can do to normally healthy people. It is also a new virus that we have no immunity against. We have no idea yet of the long term complications and damage to organs such as kidneys, bowel and in some people the brain. Apart from seasonal vaccinations the government isn’t frightened enough of the consequences to lockdown for flu is it?

            Without lockdown the UK may have lost more people this year than the whole amount we lost in World War Two. Think on that!

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            1. JC46

              It will always be difficult to prove  that which has not happened or what otherwise would have been.

               

              Do you not find it curious that countries with far higher population densities have managed to continue without lockdown and far fewer deaths?Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong,
              South Korea…

               

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              1. AgentV

                Do you not find it curious that countries with far higher population densities have managed to continue without lockdown and far fewer deaths?Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong,South Korea…  
                 
                This is due to a failing on our government’s part to take this seriously enough. I saw what was happening in China in January and could not believe that by February we were not doing checks at airports, including monitoring, data recording, community follow up and quarantine where needed. We should have been doing tracking, contact tracing (including the app) and large scale testing from that point. If we had have we might not have needed the lockdown, but I had friends returning from holidays in the far east in February who said they just got off the plane, got their luguage and caught a taxi home.  
                 
                South Korea is a prime example of doing everything right as quickly as they could…but of course they took it far more seriously having had previous experience of SARS.

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          2. AgentV

            A bat – to be precise.
             
            By the way, it is thought to be a bat, because bats carry many types of coronavirus that can cross over to humans…but my understanding is they have not yet found the bat in question!

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            1. JC46

              I’m sure you’d go into hiding if you knew you were responsible for this mess! XD

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        2. JC46

          Granted that may seem the case but I believe that choices we make have further impact. The ‘seen’ vs the ‘unseen’. As you pointed out in your first post, many will suffer as a result of late diagnosis, delayed treatment/operations, despair, etc. 
          It is difficult to look at those numbers so early on in this pandemic. Of the 300k, how many actually tested positive for Covid? Of those that have unfortunately died, was that death from Covid or something else? Bear in mind, that was the result of people not knowing they had a virus to manage. It is difficult to say how different that number might have been had everyone known about the virus as they do now.
          What is curious is that the top 6 lockdown countries Combined represent 4% of the worlds population yet represent 66% of all Covid deaths. 

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          1. AgentV

            JC46
             
            The 300,000 are deaths diagnosed with Covid-19 as the cause. The likelyhood is the true numbers are double that. As for managing the virus, there is nothing realy you can do other than get plenty of sleep, stay well hydrated and make sure you are not vitamin D deficient.
             
            With up to 5 million people in this country having been infected, the NHS would have been overwhelmed many times over if everyone had needed to be treated. Everyone in this country who needed interventional treatment such as intubation, got it….so knowing about the virus as we do now would not have prevented the number of deaths we have had. The only thing that might have helped would have been antibody containing plasma harvested from recovered patients…but that takes time to accumulate obviously.
             
            On a final note the top 6 lockdown countries went into lockdown, because the spread and prevalence of the disease in those countries was starting to overwhelm them…lockdown was used to prevent ten fold death rates, it did not contribute to the death rates. Countries that have faired better tend to be the ones that put in more stringent measures (like test , trace & track, border control and quarantine) far sooner or had less movement from other countries.    

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            1. JC46

              I’m not sure that you are correct on the first assertion. I was under the impression that the daily figure we see is ‘people that have died that tested positive for Covid’ (as shown on the NHS daily spreadsheet) which would be different compared to ‘deaths from Covid’. I also thought this is a subject of much debate in the US as some have raised concerns of incentivising Covid reporting (additional funds allocated for Covid rather than say Flu). Maybe I read wrong but please do correct me if so. Equally, it could be as bad as you hinted. There may be deaths now that aren’t even tested for Covid.  What I meant by knowing of the virus and managing, that was more about the steps individuals have taken to reduce risk of infection (cleanliness, social distancing, choosing to lock themselves down). Had everyone in the UK known of these measures sooner, would that have resulted in a difference? Maybe, maybe not. Surely by implementing lockdown and increasing measures to prevent/limit spread seems to suggest that it would have made a difference.    Thanks for that insight on the lockdown in those countries. I hope I didn’t give the impression that I thought lockdown gave worse death rates. I do agree though that some countries acted faster with a tad more efficacy. As far as movement goes, those Asian countries surrounding China had less time to act whilst still receiving large numbers of flights from China…and didn’t lockdown yet have far fewer deaths pm.   
               
              EDIT – Just saw your comment further up so there may be some irrelevant points in here. 

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              1. AgentV

                I am not the kind of person that scares easily. I tend to be adventurous to the point of putting myself in the front line more often than not….a risk taker, you might say.

                 

                But having said all that and even though I knew far more about these matters than most people, this virus put the jeepers up me…mainly because of its phenomenal transmissibility through asymptomatic carriers, but also for its affect on sending the immune system of some people into overdrive to the point it kills them…and we have little understanding why.

                 

                In 2004 AIDS killed 1.7 million people worldwide, but at least with that disease you knew some simple measures to do to protect yourself, and at the same time you could carry on life as normal.

                 

                This particular virus is changing our lives completely..that is the scariest part of all.

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                1. JC46

                  There is little I disagree with you here. We both may take further precautions to ensure ours and other safety. My main point is that we shouldn’t then compel those that disagree and want/need to carry on with their lives.

                  one of the most comprehensive studies to this point was in New York whereby that showed an infection fatality rate of 0.06% and a crude mortality rate of 0.01% for those under 65 and healthy. We know the demographics this hits hardest (as we did with aids eventually).

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  12. GPL

     

    Select any Aircraft Flight App and be prepared to witness the world in the skies which is continuing unabated. Staggering when one sees the sheer volume of flights across the globe ……right now, daily, weekly.

     

    Just think how the virus spread across the globe ……look upwards  folks …..it’s not in Lockdown.

     

    We need to ease society back into working/living/commuting/interacting …….sitting at home “living in fear?” …….it’s as proactive as being born and simply waiting to die.

     

    Time to move on ……with caution, safety and common sense.

     

     

     

     

     

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    1. JC46

      There are those that will continue to live in fear unless the risks of this virus are effectively communicated to them. From there, they should do their own cost/risk analysis.

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  13. PeeBee

    Has someone been feeding Malcolm Egerton meat again?

    You’ve been warned not to.  Look what happens when he eats meat…

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    1. JC46

      If Malcolm ignites a good, respectful conversation then we should always feed him.

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  14. AgentV

    Robert Jenrick is leading the press conference now and going to discuss the housing market.

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