The property market is thriving despite COVID-19 worries – but what are the lockdown rules for landlords and tenants?
Renting, buying and selling a home can still go ahead if the process is COVID safe in the worst impacted areas.
But extra safety measures apply to landlords, renters, buyers, sellers and maintenance workers.
To add to the confusion, England and Wales have different lockdown rules.
Here are some tips on how to conduct business for landlords:
- 1 Convert paper documents into online versions
- 2 Don’t arrange viewings for tenanted homes
- 3 Take sensible COVID precautions
- 4 Repairs and inspections
- 5 Buying or moving home
- 6 Moving between tiers
- 7 Moving home in Wales
- 8 Buying, selling or renting a home COVID guide for landlords FAQ
Convert paper documents into online versions
- Adobe PDF is the standard most used and is built in as a ‘save as’ option for Microsoft Word and Google Docs. Send copies via email. Signed PDF files can be photographed with a smartphone or scanned and are still acceptable as binding contracts.
- Avoid paper documents if possible as coronavirus can transmit this way. This includes marketing materials like business cards, leaflets or property brochures
Don’t arrange viewings for tenanted homes
- Video virtual tours are best if someone is living in a property
- If the home is tenanted, ask the tenant to stay outside during viewings.
- Landlords should not book viewings if the tenant is self-isolating or showing COVID symptoms
Take sensible COVID precautions
- Rearrange viewings if someone has a temperature or other COVID symptoms
- Don’t book block viewings or arrange open houses
- Set gaps between appointments and keep viewings to two people together from the same household even if the home is unoccupied. The times two rule applies to landlords accompanying viewers, so two viewers or a landlord with one viewer are the only groups allowed in a home.
- Viewers should always wear face masks.
- Clean door handles before and after each viewing and supply hand sanitiser for viewers before and after they enter the home. Leave doors open to minimise personal contact and open windows to ventilate the home.
- Keep a record of viewers in case someone tests positive for COVID.
- Landlords should stay outside during viewings, and everyone should maintain social distancing.
Repairs and inspections
Repairs and inspections, like visits for gas safety checks or Energy Performance Certificates can still go ahead providing everyone involved maintains COVID safety measures.
Check with tenants to see if they are self-isolating or classed as vulnerable and subject to shielding.
Government guidance says landlords should delay gas safety checks if a tenant is self-isolating.
The gas engineer should follow government rules for working in someone else’s home
Buying or moving home
Everyone is free to move home during lockdown, but some strict rules apply.
- Property searches should be online rather than visiting landlords or letting agents
- In-person viewings should only take place when a renter or buyer wants to make a serious offer
- Most paperwork to complete a rental or property purchase can take place online to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 from personal contact
- Removal firms can work as normal, but movers are advised to ack as many of their belongings as possible
- Movers should sanitise belongings before and after they are handled by others
- Don’t make tea etc for removal staff but do offer sanitizer and cleaning materials as required
- Landlords should ensure empty homes are thoroughly cleaned before a new tenant moves in
- Moving in and out or viewing shared houses (houses in multiple occupation/HMOs) is allowed providing common areas are cleaned and other tenants stay away until the activity ends
- Tenants should not move into an HMO if any occupants show COVID symptoms or are self-isolating. If any vulnerable person is shielding, they are advised not to move.
- Make sure keys are sanitized before and after handovers
Moving between tiers
Moving home between areas in England with different COVID alert levels is allowed but the rules for each area must be obeyed.
If someone moves from a Tier 1 to a Tier 2 or Tier 3 zone in England, socialising with anyone they do not live with should be kept to a minimum. Overnight trips that involve a stay are discouraged.
Moving home in Wales
Wales has different rules from England and is currently in a fire break lockdown until Monday, November 9.
Landlords can market a property for sale or rent and ready a home for tenants to move in providing the COVID safety measures in place in Wales are followed.
The safety measures are the same as those in England for marketing and viewing a home.
It’s a good idea to have evidence of where you live on you when travelling to Wales as the police are checking cars and vans entering the country.
Travellers from Tier 2 or Tier 3 areas may not enter a lower risk area in Wales without good reason – readying a house for marketing or moving are reasonable excuses for travel.
Your vehicle – especially a rented van – maybe registered to an address in a higher risk area than the one where you live, so proof of address and reason for travelling should be carried.
Moving from Wales to England is not an issue, but again COVID safety measures must be observed.
Buying, selling or renting a home COVID guide for landlords FAQ
Many landlords and movers find the latest COVID rules confusing.
It’s important anyone marketing or dealing with people moving home knows the rules, so here are some answers to the most asked questions.
Can I still move home if the property is in a high risk area?
Yes. Moving home is allowed under government COVID safety measures in England and Wales, although the alert levels and lockdown rules differ.
The latest guidance for landlords, tenants and movers can be found through these links:
- England – COVID advice for landlords, tenants and movers
- Wales – COVID advice for landlords, tenants and movers
I live in an HMO – do the rules still apply?
Yes. The guidance in England and Wales talks about homes, which are any residential property including permanently sited caravans and houseboats, HMOs, student accommodation and homes tied to a job, like a flat over a shop or pub.
I’m self-moving, do the rules still apply to me?
Yes. All the rules about viewing and moving homes still apply. It’s a good idea to have some paperwork with you that proves where you are moving from and to in case you are stopped by police on the Welsh border.
Can landlords still inspect tenanted homes?
Yes, but it’s a good idea to consider if the visit is really needed. Landlords must have the agreement of tenants before entering the property. All COVID safety measures for the area must be followed and it’s a good idea to delay the visit if anyone is self-isolating or shielding.
Can I buy and rent a new build home?
Yes. If the developer follows the appropriate COVID safety measures, buyers can purchase and move into new build homes. Landlords renting out a new build must follow the rules as well.