1. Self-isolating

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, or you have received a positive COVID-19 test result, you should immediately self-isolate at home for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started.

If you are contractually committed to moving home, you should seek to delay your move until all members of your household have come to the end of their self-isolation period. All parties involved in home buying and selling should prioritise agreeing on amicable arrangements to change completion dates where someone in a chain or their family member is self-isolating or has tested positive for coronavirus.

  1. Visiting our office / Viewings
  • Members of the public who are visiting our office or viewing a property must wear a suitable face covering as described in government guidance unless they are exempt from this requirement. Anyone with concerns should contact us in advance of their visit to discuss appropriate measures.
  • All physical viewings where prospective buyers or renters will be entering the property should involve no more than two households inside the property at any one time. This includes any agent accompanying either party. Anyone in a support bubble with either household, however, will count as part of that household. Please read the latest guidance on indoor gatherings and support bubbles.
  • Where prospective buyers who are currently from separate households wish to view a property on the same occasion, we advise that one household leaves the property to allow the other to enter. This allows for both households to view the property and ensures social distancing.
  • Viewings to be arranged by appointment only. When viewing properties in person, you should avoid touching surfaces wherever possible, wash your hands regularly and/or use hand sanitiser. If you need to be accompanied by small children, you should try to keep them from touching surfaces and ensure they wash their hands regularly.
  • If people are being shown around your home, you should open all internal doors and ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned after each viewing with standard household cleaning products. The property you are looking around should allow access to handwashing facilities and ideally separate towels/paper towels. We encourage sellers to provide hand sanitiser for use before buyers enter the property.
  • If you are self-isolating, showing symptoms of COVID-19, we will not be able to show you around any properties.
  • “Back to back” viewings of properties should be avoided, with sufficient time allowed between each viewing for the necessary cleaning to take place.
  1. Ben Siggins Estate Agents

We will inform customers and our own staff about procedures so that they are safe throughout the sales and lettings process.

  • We will ask whether any party is showing symptoms or has been asked to self-isolate before going ahead with any viewing, or visits to offices.
  • We will inform visitors to our offices of the need to wear face coverings. We have ensured our offices are ‘Covid secure’ and we have taken appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the disease. We will wear face coverings at all times while at work.
  • Where we do not accompany a property visit, we will make sure that both buyers and sellers clearly understand how the viewing should be conducted safely. (See above)
  • 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.
  • We will work with our 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.
  • We will ensure that any keys are appropriately cleaned before handover.
  • We will ask clients whether they have returned to the UK from one of the countries, not on the exception list. If you have returned from a country on the quarantine list, we can continue to progress your home move virtually until the quarantine period is over.
  1. Preparing to buy, sell or move home

You can put your home on the market and look for properties to buy or rent. However, if you or any member of your household is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or is self-isolating, then estate agents and potential buyers should not visit your property in person.

  • You can market your home, and we can visit in order to take photos/videos of your property. As usual, you can also start to bring together the documentation necessary to sell your property.
  • Purchasers may also want to arrange for tradespeople to carry out inspections in the property where possible these should be scheduled with one person visiting the property at a time. No tradespeople should enter a property, for these purposes, where a member of the household is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or self-isolating. Where a tradesperson is visiting the property, the occupier should maintain social distancing, wash their hands regularly and minimise contact as far as possible, for example, by staying in another room.
  • When moving between properties, you and those in your household should try to do as much of the packing yourself as you can. Where this is not possible, you should speak to removal firms in advance. There is further advice about this below. If you are particularly worried about the risk of infection, then speak to your landlord, estate agent or removers as they may be able to put extra precautionary measures in place.
  1. Property searches and surveys

Your surveyor can undertake surveys of the property you wish to purchase. There are no restrictions on the types of survey that can be carried out, and you should talk to your surveyor to understand the most appropriate type of survey for the home you intend to purchase.

On custom and self-build projects, surveyors can visit plots you wish to purchase and undertake valuations to support the release of staged payment mortgages.

  • Surveyors should not enter a property where a member of the household is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or self-isolating.
  • Where possible, we encourage inspections to take place by appointment only, with one person visiting the property at any time. Surveyors should follow government guidance for professionals working in other people’s homes and guidance on social distancing.
  • If your home is being surveyed, you should ensure the surveyor has access to all the parts of the property they need to inspect and minimise contact with the surveyor, for example by staying in another room.
  1. Agreeing to move

Once you have exchanged contracts or signed a tenancy agreement, you have entered into a legal agreement to purchase or rent the property. We encourage all parties to be as flexible as possible and be prepared to delay moves if necessary, for example, if someone involved in the transaction becomes ill with COVID-19 during the moving process or has to self-isolate. You should not expect to move into any home where people are sick or self-isolating.

  • Your legal adviser should be able to help you to ensure that any contract you enter into has sufficient flexibility to allow the purchase to be delayed in the event that an individual in one of the parties contracts COVID-19 or has to self-isolate.
  1. Moving your belongings

Removal firms are able to carry out work, but their usual procedures may be different to ensure moves take place as safely as possible. To help with long-distance moves, you can stay overnight away from your home with your own household or support bubble in line with the latest guidance on staying over anywhere other than your main residence.

  • There is no guarantee your chosen removal firm will be operating at the time you require. We encourage you to contact removal firms as early as possible in advance of your move date.
  • If removal firms are unavailable, another household can help you move your belongings, but social distancing guidelines and hygiene measures should be followed where possible.
  • You and your household should also try and do as much of the packing yourself as possible. However, where you are using a removals firm, you may wish to get their advice on packing in advance, in particular the arrangements for packing fragile items.
  • We ask that, where possible, you clean your belongings with standard domestic cleaning products before they are handled by others, including removal firms.
  • While the removers are in your home, you should ensure any internal doors are open and try to minimise your contact with the removers, maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres where possible.
  • All parties should wash their hands regularly and/or use hand sanitiser and should avoid touching surfaces where possible to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19.
  • You should not provide refreshments, but you should ensure removers have access to handwashing facilities, using separate towels or paper towels if possible, which should be washed or safely disposed of afterwards.
  1. Tradespeople

Moving home is often a time when people want to undertake repairs and improve their new home or prepare their old home for sale. This work can involve fitting new kitchens, redecorating, and other home improvement work.

This work is also important when people aren’t moving home. It is a key way for households and landlords to maintain and improve the home environment and address poor quality accommodation while also providing important work for tradespeople whose businesses have been affected by the virus.

Tradespeople should follow the government’s safer working in-home guidance. Companies should ensure employees understand how to operate safely and communicate this to customers.

  1. Conveyancers

Conveyancers can open for business and can take on new instructions. They should make sure their clients are aware of the differences in completing transactions during this period.

  • Conveyancers should aim to conduct as much of their business remotely as possible.
  • Where client meetings need to take place, measures should be put in place to ensure appropriate social distancing and hygiene measures.
  • Conveyancers should do what they can to promote flexibility making provisions for the risks presented by coronavirus, for example when advising their clients who are ready to move not to exchange contracts on an occupied property unless they have made explicit provision for the risks presented by the virus.
  • Conveyancers should prioritise support for anyone who is clinically vulnerable, with symptoms of coronavirus or self-isolating to agree on a new date to move.
  1. Surveyors and EPC assessors

Surveyors and EPC assessors are free to visit properties to carry out surveys. Surveyors should follow the latest government guidelines for working in other people’s homes.

Where surveys are carried out, all public health guidance on social distancing must be followed. Companies should ensure employees understand how to operate safely and communicate this to customers.

  • Surveyors and assessors should contact the owners of the property to be surveyed prior to the survey or assessment to make sure they understand which areas will be surveyed and ensure that all doors and access panels are open and surfaces have been cleaned with household cleaning products in line with public health advice. During a visit, members of the household should follow social distancing guidance, staying 2 metres away wherever possible, for example, by staying in another room.
  • No work should be carried out by a person who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild or anyone who has been asked to self-isolate.
  • Surveyors and assessors should wash their hands immediately upon entering the property, using separate towels or paper towels which need to be washed or disposed of safely after use.
  • Surveyors should be clear in any reports about areas which they weren’t able to inspect due to public health limitations.
  1. Removals firms

Removal firms are allowed to operate and should follow the latest government guidance on safer working. Where moves are carried out, social distancing should be followed. Companies should ensure employees understand how to operate safely and communicate this to customers.

  • Removers should contact the household in advance to check that no member of the household is showing symptoms of coronavirus or self-isolating. If they are, works should be delayed.
  • They should also encourage households to ensure all internal doors are open and surfaces and possessions have been cleaned with household cleaning products prior to them entering the property.
  • No work should be carried out by a person who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.
  • Removers should wash their hands on entering the property using separate towels or paper towels which need to be washed or disposed of safely after use.
  • Removers should seek to minimise contact with homeowners and, where possible, remain 2 metres apart from householders at all times.
  • Removers should implement a buddy system and ensure that the same people work together when moving bulky items and furniture.
  • Removers should bring their own refreshments, but you should ensure they have access to handwashing facilities, using separate towels or paper towels if possible, which should be washed or disposed of safely afterwards.
  • Removers should also make sure they have read the latest guidance on travelling safely.
  1. Letting agents and private landlords

Letting agents and landlords should be aware of and follow the government guidance on coronavirus and renting which contains further advice that may also be applicable such as on possession proceedings, repairs, maintenance and health and safety. Tenants should also be made aware of this guidance.

The guidance below for landlords and letting agents is to help them safely let empty properties, or properties which tenants are voluntarily vacating. Letting agents and landlords should endeavour to work with their tenants to sustain tenancies as far as possible, where the tenant wants and is able to stay.

  • We will not conduct viewings in properties where tenants are symptomatic or self-isolating.
  • In other cases (such as where tenants have been determined to be clinically extremely vulnerable) where viewings can proceed, they will be conducted in line with the guidance on viewings earlier in this document.
  • Any visits to a property must be made in accordance with the 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.
  • We will obtain 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.
  • Ben Siggins Estate Agents and landlords will 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.
  • Ben Siggins Estate Agents and landlords will consider how best to conduct tenancy check-ins for new tenancies agreed, taking care to follow government advice on social distancing and public health advice to minimise the possible spread of coronavirus.
  • Ben Siggins Estate Agents and landlords are to be reminded of the temporary COVID-19 measures that adjust right to rent checks, temporarily allowing these checks to be conducted remotely. Ben Siggins Estate Agents and landlords will consider other areas where in-person payments, referencing or checks can be conducted remotely instead and take further legal or professional advice if required to implement properly.
  • Moves into a house in multiple occupation (HMO) are allowed. However, there may be additional risks involved in moving into an HMO at this time which is why it is important that all involved take reasonable precautions. During viewings, tenants that share an HMO are advised to stay out of indoor common areas, such as kitchens, bathrooms or sittings areas, during a viewing. If it is not a tenant’s own private room that is being viewed they can also remain inside their room with the doors closed.
  • Moves into student accommodation are allowed. Letting agents, universities and accommodation providers should consider how best to conduct tenancy check-ins, following the latest public health advice and taking reasonable steps to reduce transmission.

Some applicants and tenants may be anxious about moving at this time. It will be important to ensure that we will not put you under undue pressure to move if you are not ready or able to do so.

It will also be important that we discuss with applicants and tenants their state of health, level of vulnerability and their arrangements for moving (including any assistance required) before proceeding with the move.

Landlords should avoid moving tenants who are showing symptoms of coronavirus or self-isolating. There may be exceptions to this (e.g. safety reasons) and in these scenarios’ landlords should speak to the local Public Health team about appropriate infection control measures before taking any action. Tenants seeking mutual exchange should be directed to the Advice to the public section above.

 

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