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Winter lockdown: can I view a property?

Winter lockdown: can I view a property?
Image source: Getty Images

One aspect of the economy is set to keep going during the winter lockdown. The housing market will function as normally as possible. Buyers are keen to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday, so agents are likely to be as busy as ever.

Many people are looking at their accommodation afresh, as their lifestyles have changed, and they are keen to view alternatives.

Lockdown rules permit property viewings this winter

Government advice published on 4 January states that:

…you may leave home to fulfil legal obligations or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property.

For clarification, it is acceptable to view more than one potential property:

 If you are looking to move, you can go to property viewings.

Estate agents, lettings agents and removals firms are all able to work during the winter lockdown. This decision has been made to support the property market as well as those needing to move.

As with other government decisions regarding the pandemic, things may change. Therefore it is wise to arrange viewings as soon as possible.

Viewing properties safely during winter lockdown

A number of protocols have been established to ensure that property viewings are safe:

  • Initial viewings will be virtual rather than in person. This may also apply to valuations.
  • There will be no ‘open house’ viewings.
  • Buyers and renters must wear a face covering and avoid touching any surfaces once inside the property.
  • It is best for residents to vacate the property during viewings.
  • Internal doors must be open before, and during, the viewing – this could include fixed drawers and cupboards.
  • The agent or owner must clean surfaces, such as door handles, before and after viewings.
  • Owners and landlords acting independently should adhere to the same procedures as agents.

Virtual viewings offer the opportunity to show and inspect more properties without committing to in-person appointments.

Needless to say, no viewings should take place where anyone involved has coronavirus symptoms or has tested positive during the previous ten days.

Rental property viewings during the pandemic

The pandemic has been an insecure time for landlords and tenants. Property market winter lockdown rules apply equally to the rental market. Viewings will continue, with an emphasis on virtual viewings where possible. 

For in-person viewings, agents must take extra care to inform tenants about appointments at their home. Agents should attend property viewings to ensure that guidelines are followed. 

The situation is more complicated for shared accommodation and Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). Viewings need to explore both communal and separate areas. 

Be ready to move

Property viewing out of curiosity is not one of the acceptable reasons for going out. In-person appointments will be available for serious movers only.

Prospective tenants need to have a deposit saved and all of their paperwork up to date. Agents expect buyers to have a mortgage offer in place.

See for yourself

Andrews estate and letting agents have made a handy video to explain what to expect with viewings during the winter lockdown.

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