Update: Your guide to what the Tier 4 and third lockdown restrictions mean for letting agents and house moves

    5 January 2021

    As under Tier 4 restrictions, the lettings industry can continue to operate during the third national lockdown in England. Letting agencies can "continue to work" and people are permitted to move home.

    The situation with Covid-19 is rapidly changing. For the latest guidelines, please refer to gov.uk.

    The government has confirmed that people can still move home and continue to view properties during the third national lockdown in England, as under Tier 4 restrictions, while continuing to follow appropriate Covid-19 safety guidelines. The lockdown will come into law on 6 January 2020 and is expected to be in place until at least February half term.

    The official guidance on the national lockdown states that estate and letting agents can "continue to work". As in Tier 4, agents are encouraged to continue following advice on "social distancing, letting in fresh air and wearing a face covering" - measures re-emphasised in the government's advice on home moving during coronavirus. This advice, now updated to reflect the announcement of the national lockdown, highlights the key message that “tenants’ safety should be letting agents’ and landlords’ first priority".

    Viewing homes safely during Tier 4 and lockdown

    "If you are looking to move, you can go to property viewings," notes the home moving guidance, which advises both the public and industry to follow the existing guidance on moving home safely during Covid-19. This means that initial viewings should still take place virtually wherever possible and in-person viewings should be arranged by appointment only. "Open house" viewings should not take place. During an in-person viewing, suitable face coverings should be worn, all internal doors should be kept open, and surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned after each viewing with standard household cleaning products. Avoid touching surfaces wherever possible, wash your hands regularly and/or use hand sanitiser.

    Moving home safely during Tier 4 and lockdown

    People can still move home and removals firms can continue to operate, according to the guidance. However, "people outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary". Anyone involved in any aspect of the home-moving process should practice social distancing. Households should try to do as much of their own packing as they can. Clinically extremely vulnerable people are also allowed to move home, but they should consider their personal situation may wish to seek medical advice first. The guidance notes that "some moves are likely to be lower risk - for instance if the home is empty, all travel can take place in their own transport and they can avoid contact with others".

    Working safely during Tier 4 and lockdown

    Letting agents must follow the guidance on working safely during coronavirus, which includes carrying out a Covid-19 risk assessment of your workplace. Basic workplace safety includes ensuring that your staff wear face coverings as, "by law, staff in retail settings must wear face coverings when in customer-facing areas, unless they have an exemption," notes the guidance on working safely during coronavirus. Agencies should also reduce crowding and consider how many people can be in the space while remaining socially distant, including using floor markings to manage queues. Help staff to remain socially distant by using barriers to separate staff and customers, introducing back-to-back or side-to-side working, and making your staff work in the same team each day. All staff and customers should be kept up to date with how safety measures are being used and updated.

    This article is intended as a guide only. For more information, see gov.uk.

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