This guidance contains advice to ensure that moving home in any tenure and supporting activities, such as viewing property, can happen safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Scotland.
It is now a legal requirement to stay at home in level 4 areas except for essential purposes. Given the higher transmissibility of this new strain of the virus, it is of even greater importance than before that home moves, activities related in connection with home moves and essential housing services are delivered in a manner that minimises the risk of transmission and looks to keep everyone safe.
This continues to be an evolving situation so please make sure you are following the latest guidance and keep up to date with the latest public health advice.
From 2 November 2020, a new five level system applies to help tackle the spread of COVID-19. Read more about the protection levels, which can be applied nationally or locally depending on the prevalence of the virus across Scotland.
From Tuesday 5 January 2021, mainland Scotland moved from Level 4 to a temporary lockdown, with new guidance to stay at home except for essential purposes. Some islands will remain at Level 3. Scottish Government advice is to stay home to protect the NHS and save lives.
All home moves are permitted, provided they can be carried out safely. This continues to be the case following the announcement of the measures in the five level system and the temporary lockdown.
People can move home in all protection levels, and to and from areas with different levels. While it is permitted to leave your house for activities in connection with moving home (including viewing a property) or for activities in connection with the essential maintenance, purchase, sale, letting, or rental of residential property that the person owns or is otherwise responsible for, at this time it is advisable to postpone, if possible.
Property viewings should be done virtually in the first instance and in taking account of the new strain of the virus it is advisable to postpone viewings of properties or delay a home move, if this is possible.
Related activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property include:
visiting estate or letting agents, housing association or council offices, developer sales offices or show homes where necessary
viewing a residential property to look for a property to buy or rent where necessary
preparing a residential property to move in
visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property.
Although you can leave home for these purposes, the advice remains that you should stay as close to home as possible in order to protect the NHS and save lives. It is advisable to delay these activities, if possible.
People working for relevant organisations and businesses can continue to support people to move home in all protection levels, and should follow the Scottish Government’s latest guidance for employers and businesses on COVID-19 in order to undertake these activities in a safe manner.
Current stay at home guidance is that in level four areas work is only permitted within a private dwelling if it is essential for the upkeep, maintenance and functioning of the household. This guidance is now law. Home moves continue to be permitted, and associated activity in support of house moves should continue as part of essential housing services including within people’s homes (where this is unavoidable). People can continue to go into someone else’s homes to support a home move, for example furniture removal, with appropriate safeguards.
Organisations and businesses should take account of the new more transmissible variant of COVID-19 and look again at their functions to see how they can be delivered in a manner that will ensure the risk of transmission is reduced and there is an enhanced compliance with keeping people safe. We now need every business to work with their workforce to look again at their operations, and to make sure that every single function that can be done by people working at home, is being done in that way.
In Level 4 all workplaces, public and private sector, even those providing essential services and supporting national infrastructure, should as far as possible work from home. Currently it is an offence to leave your home or ask your workers to leave their home to carry out work which could be carried out at home. Please see: Stay at Home guidance.
Home moves includes students moving home and other home moves resulting in two or more households merging on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. Once you have formed a new household, you must comply with the guidance on meeting others the relevant protection level when interacting with other households. You cannot be a member of more than one household and repeated moving between homes, causing households to mix beyond extended households, is not permitted without reasonable excuse.
This guidance also applies to custom and self-builders looking to acquire a plot or a property to renovate or to demolish.
It remains vitally important that we all continue to follow the advice designed to help people stay safe, protect others and save lives appropriate to each protection level.
To prevent transmission of COVID-19:
- wear a face covering
- avoid crowded places
- clean hands and surfaces regularly
- stay 2m away from other people
- self-isolate and book a test if you have COVID-19 symptoms (new continuous cough, fever or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste)
If you have suspected COVID-19 symptoms (new continuous cough, fever or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste) self-isolate and book a test. If COVID-19 has been confirmed, you also need to self-isolate and must not be at work. Follow the guidance on self-isolation on NHS Inform.
People who have been in close contact with someone who has the virus (as confirmed by testing) should self-isolate, even if they don’t have symptoms. This is part of Test and Protect - Scotland’s approach to implementing the Test, Trace, Isolate, Support strategy.
The situation may also change and guidance is reviewed regularly so please check for updates on the Scottish Government website.
The process of finding and moving into a new home is different from before COVID-19. Those involved in the process will have to adapt practices and procedures to ensure that the risk of spread of COVID-19 is reduced 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.
We encourage everyone involved to be as flexible as possible over this period and be prepared to delay moves, for example, if someone becomes ill with COVID-19 during the moving process or has to self-isolate. It may also become necessary at some point to move beyond the five levels of protection and pause all home moves for a short period of time to manage the spread of the COVID-19. We will let you know if this has to happen
You should also consider whether you need to make provisions in contracts to manage these risks. You should not expect to move into any home where people have COVID-19 or are self-isolating.