14 May 2020
Plans announced to restart the housing market
Restrictions around the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property across England have been relaxed by virtue of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020.
The relevant amendment includes a new section under Regulation 6 ('Restrictions on Movement') which states:
6.— (1) During the emergency period, no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse.
(2) For the purposes of paragraph (1), a reasonable excuse includes the need—
(l) to undertake any of the following activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property—
(i) visiting estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes;
(ii) viewing residential properties to look for a property to buy or rent;
(iii) preparing a residential property to move in;
(iv) moving home;
(v) visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property.
Since the lockdown restrictions implemented in March, over 450,000 people have been unable to move forward with their home buying plans. However, from 13th May renters and buyers will now be able to complete purchases and view prospective properties in person; whilst estate agents, conveyancers and removal firms will be able to commence work again under strict social distancing guidelines.
In addition to these changes, a new Charter has also been launched by Government and the Home Builders Federation to help construction sites reopen in the interests of maintaining a healthy supply of future homes.
Throughout all these changes, government has stressed that Public Health England guidance must always be adhered to.
What does CILEx think?
CILEx is pleased to see a slow and steady reopening of the construction and conveyancing industry. Whilst some conveyancing members responding to our weekly COVID-19 impact survey have indicated minor rises in work and income within recent weeks, the overall picture indicates a bleaker state of affairs.
CILEx members have indicated week on week a rapid decline in available work/transactions with the most recent figures showing a 59% drop as compared to usual. Whilst we hope that these new lockdown measures will bring about positive changes, we strongly encourage members to continue taking part in our COVID-19 Impact Survey so that we can track what, if any, changes are realised in practice, particularly with regards to firm cash-flow, sector income, job retention and more.
CILEx stresses that members should ensure they continue to follow national health guidelines, adhere to strict social distancing policies and not inadvertently risk creating additional hazards in an attempt to revive the market at an accelerated pace. To help guide members to this end, please refer to the MHCLG Guidance on home moving during COVID-19 (which has since been updated to take account of recent changes), as well as recently published cross-sector industry guidance developed by relevant bodies including the Home Buying and Selling Group.