Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on moving home

Published: 23 Jun 2020

Guidance on housing (sales and rental) in Scotland during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on moving home
Home moves in the social and private rented sector

Home moves in the social and private rented sector

Tenant, staff and contractor safety should be letting agents’ and landlords’ first priority when managing home moves. Please refer to guidance for landlords on meeting their duties and legal obligations in the social and private rented sectors during the pandemic.  

Letting agents and private sector landlords should follow guidance on COVID-19 and renting which explains the current approach in the Private Rented Sector, including tenant protections. Propertymark has also produced guidance, see the related links page.

Specific advice on all home moves in the rented sector includes:

  • viewings should not be conducted in properties where tenants are showing symptoms or self-isolating, or where it has been determined that they are shielding

  • landlords and agents and should ask whether any member of a tenant’s household is showing symptoms, or has been asked to self-isolate, or is shielding before going ahead with any visits to properties. Appointment systems should be used  for tenants visiting offices and when conducting viewings. Virtual viewings should be carried out where possible, with physical viewings only where there is no other alternative.

  • landlords and agents must give tenants appropriate notice before visiting the property and should not enter the property without the tenant’s consent, except in an emergency.  Any visits to a property must be made in accordance with the Scottish Government guidelines on physical distancing.

  • where possible, essential repairs, gas and electrical safety checks and energy performance assessments 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

  • landlords should make every effort to abide by gas safety requirements, which continue to be of great importance for tenants’ safety. This may be more difficult due to restrictions associated with the COVID-19 outbreak, for example where a tenant has COVID-19 symptoms, is self-isolating or shielding. Under such circumstances, provided the landlord can demonstrate they have taken reasonable steps to comply, they would not be in breach. The HSE has produced guidance on how to deal with specific circumstances.

  • landlords should also make every effort to abide by electrical and other fuel safety requirements, which continue to be of great importance for tenants’ safety. This may be more difficult due to restrictions associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. Unless there is evidence of existing defects or concerns about individual properties, routine electrical safety inspections should not be carried out until at least Phase 3 of the route map.

  • letting agents may also want to consider obtaining 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.

  • where there is no alternative, landlord staff and agents can accompany landlords and prospective tenants on physical viewings but should seek to minimise contact with prospective tenants and home occupiers at all times and follow government guidelines on physical distancing and the use of face coverings.

  • where an unaccompanied viewing is being carried out agents and landlords  should make sure that tenants and prospective tenants clearly understand how the viewing should be conducted safely and that they should comply with health guidance including physical distancing.

  • all parties viewing a property should wash their hands with soap and water or use alcohol based hand rub (hand sanitiser) before entering the property, with internal doors opened and surfaces having also been cleaned with standard household cleaning products before they enter. If any party need to wash their hands in the property, separate towels or paper towels should be used. The landlord should be responsible for providing the cleaning products and towels.

  • properties should be deep cleaned in the period between the property being vacated and a new tenant moving in.  See guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings.