Government advice on home moving during the coronavirus outbreak

The government has issued new guidance that applies to people buying or selling private residential homes which they intend to live in. It also applies to renters who are planning to move house. 

We are currently seeking advice on whether similar guidance will be issued on void management for social housing providers.

Some of the provisions in the this new guidance could potentially apply to housing association moves. If the provisions are to apply to void management, there could be some barriers to housing associations managing voids in the usual way, especially if current residents are still in situ (perhaps struggling to move on). This may affect housing associations’ ability to rehouse homeless people.

We’ve summarised points in the new guidance that could impact housing associations are below, if the same advice were to be applied to void management. 

  • The advice to delay moving until stay-at-home measures are no longer in place, especially if the property is currently occupied and if prospective buyers or new tenants are displaying symptoms.
    • If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on staying away from others.
    • If a customer’s circumstances change during this three-month period, lenders will work with customers to help them manage their finances.
  • The advice that estate agents’ branches (and therefore potentially housing association void management teams) should be closed and employees work from home where possible.
  • The advice not to invite unnecessary visitors, for housing associations could affect relisting of voids, refurbishment, safety checks, viewings and signups if the previous tenant has not yet moved out. The advice does allow for virtual viewings.
  • If the property is empty, the advice refers to government guidance of 26 March 2020 that states that work carried out in people’s homes can continue, provided the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms of coronavirus and distancing and hygiene advice is followed.
  • Removers should follow the guidance of 26 March 2020 that states that work carried out in people’s homes can continue, provided the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms of coronavirus and distancing and hygiene advice is followed.

If you have any questions, please get in touch.