New guidance clarifies that essential moves can continue

30 April 2020

The Government has now announced that house moves, including social housing lettings, can restart, with appropriate safety measures in place.

We understand this supersedes this guidance which suggested that only essential moves should take place.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and Public Health England (PHE) have now published non-statutory guidance specifically for social housing providers. It clarifies that emergency moves are still essential and can carry on in line with social distancing in order to support vulnerable people to move home.

This is different to the previous guidance on moving house for home buyers and renters, which suggested that moving was not essential at this time.

The new guidance contains advice on how local authorities and housing associations should consider using existing homes. To help reduce the spread of the infection, the government advises social landlords to pause non-essential allocations, mutual exchanges and transfers.

We welcome this new guidance, its focus on vulnerable people and the clarification on which lettings can continue and how. We will continue to work with the government to seek further clarification on what can be done to mitigate practical barriers to lettings and to support services that are suffering financial consequences because they cannot fill their vacant properties at this time.

Further information

Reason for essential moves include:

  • Supporting victims of domestic abuse and people fleeing violence.
  • Preventing severe overcrowding.
  • Facilitating move-on from temporary accommodation.
  • Supporting discharge from hospital to free-up bed space for others requiring care.
  • Supporting those living in un-safe accommodation, or without settled accommodation, which poses a risk to their health.

Moving vulnerable residents

The guidance goes on to say landlords should avoid moving residents who are self-isolating unless it is essential. Residents that have been determined extremely vulnerable should avoid moves where possible. If a home move is required, measures should be taken to protect these residents from potential exposure to coronavirus.  

Maintenance work in vacant properties

The guidance says landlords should pause non-essential maintenance where this would require households to move temporarily into other accommodation. When undertaking work on vacant properties to prepare them for being let, landlords should refer to guidance on going to work.

Who to speak to

Suzannah Young, Policy Officer