The process of finding and moving into a new home may still be different from before COVID-19. Everyone involved may need to adapt practices and procedures to ensure that the risk of spread of COVID-19, particularly given the new highly transmissible Omicron strain, is managed as far as possible. This will include doing more of the process online, such as initial virtual viewings, and ensuring that you continue to follow government advice on physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene.
All parties involved in home buying and selling should prioritise agreeing amicable arrangements to change completion dates where someone in a chain or their family member is self-isolating or has tested positive for COVID-19.
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 also consider whether you need to make provisions in contracts to manage the risks relating to COVID-19. You should not expect to move into any home where people have COVID-19 or are self-isolating, nor expect anyone else to do so.
You should not view any properties if you have COVID-19 symptoms or are self-isolating.
You should avoiding touching surfaces when viewing a property and washing your hands with soap and water before entering the property or using alcohol-based hand rub (hand sanitiser).
To allow home moves to happen as safely as possible, you should consider the following precautions:
- Arranging initial viewings virtually – property agents (estate agents) and landlords should help you to do this.
- Restricting physical viewings to appointment only and avoiding open house viewings. If open house viewings are taking place, everyone should think about how these can be carried out to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, for example restricting the number of people who can view a property at the same time.
- Thinking about who really needs to be at the property to carry out the viewing successfully. You may be asked to vacate your property during viewings.
- Taking Lateral Flow Tests on the day, prior to viewings and activities in connection with moving home which involve mixing with other households.
- If you are particularly worried about the risk of infection, then speak to the professionals involved, your landlord, letting agent, property agent or removers as they may be able to put in place extra measures.
You should co-operate with these or other measures that other people or businesses have put in place to manage the risks from COVID-19.
Information for people who are at increased clinical risk
Those who are at increased clinical risk from COVID-19 will need to carefully consider their personal circumstances and may wish to seek medical advice before deciding whether to commit to or go ahead with a move. You can keep up to date with the most recent advice at Coronavirus (COVID-19): shielding advice and support.
We recognise people who have been identified as being at increased clinical risk from COVID-19 may also have pressing needs to move home.
All parties involved in home buying and selling should prioritise agreeing amicable arrangements to change move dates for individuals at increased clinical risk, or where someone in a chain is at increased clinical risk. This includes where a home move involves tenants who may be living in a property or moving as a result of the sale of a property.
Individuals at increased clinical risk will need to carefully consider their personal situation and the circumstances of their own move and may wish to seek medical advice before deciding whether to commit to or go ahead with a move. Some moves are likely to be lower risk, for instance where the home is empty, all travel can take place in their own transport and contact with others can be avoided. We would encourage individuals at increased clinical risk who are intending to move to speak to those involved with their home move process about additional precautionary measures that may be available.
People self-isolating or having tested positive for COVID-19
Moving home is not appropriate whilst you pose a direct risk of transmitting COVID-19. People who have COVID-19 or are self-isolating should not leave their home either to move home or to undertake property viewings. This includes people who are self-isolating as part of the Scottish Government’s Test and Protect strategy.
If you have symptoms that may be caused by COVID-19, or you live with someone that has symptoms, you should follow current guidance on staying at home and self-isolating. If you don’t have symptoms take regular Lateral Flow Tests – especially before mixing with other people.
Anyone with COVID-19 or self-isolating, should delay their move until all members of the household have come to the end of their self-isolation period. All parties should prioritise agreeing amicable arrangements to change move dates for households with individuals in this group.
You are advised to wear a face covering when in contact with other people from outside your household involved in activities related to buying or selling your home. Face coverings are an important protective measure in stopping the spread of the virus, providing protection to the wearer and those around them. It remains a legal requirement to wear a face covering in a range of indoor settings unless exemptions apply, details can be found here. Face covering guidance is kept under regular review.
Agreeing to buy or rent a property
Once you have agreed to buy or rent a property by concluding missives or signing a tenancy agreement, you have entered into a legal agreement and a moving date will be set. We continue to encourage all parties to be as flexible as possible and be prepared to delay actual moves if needed, for example if someone is at increased clinical risk, 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 ill or self-isolating, or before it has been properly cleaned.
When buying a home you and your solicitor should discuss the possible impact of COVID-19 on any contract and, where needed, your solicitor will be able to advise you and help make such contract as flexible as possible to accommodate these risks.
We encourage you to be as flexible as possible if you are asked to delay your move and speak to your solicitor, letting agent or landlord about this.
It may also not be possible for home moves to take place on the same day. We encourage you to think about the scheduling of any move, and where you might stay in between moves. You may also wish to discuss this with your solicitor or letting agent or landlord.
After accepting a tenancy in either the social housing or private rented sector, you should notify the landlord immediately if you subsequently become ill with COVID-19 or anyone in your household is self-isolating and is unable to move into the rented property by the date of entry agreed. This is so that the landlord or letting agent can agree a way forward with you.