Government may put all home moves on hold

Posted in January 2021

PM could consider stricter restrictions on the housing market if Covid-19 cases continue to rise

Government may put all home moves on hold

The PM warned that the government “may have to do more” if ministers feel current lockdown rules are not rigorous enough to reduce the current rapid rise in Covid-19 cases and that could include a halt on people moving into homes in England, whether as owner-occupiers or renters.

There has been an increasing number of urgent calls for the government to tighten the lockdown restriction in order to slow down the Covid-19 rate of infections. 

Earlier in the week, the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for property viewings to be stopped during the current lockdown.  Sir Kier said: “It would surprise people that it's still possible at the moment to go and view houses if you want to buy a house – and that wasn't allowed last March". However, ministers are already understood to be looking into stricter restrictions that could include stopping property viewings, valuations and all home moves on a local or national level for a period of time still to be determined.  

Boris Johnson announced last week a set of new national lockdown restrictions for England, but unlike the first lockdown, the housing market remains open thereby, allowing estate agents to continue operating.  This has meant that people from different households have been allowed 'to mix' inside homes due to viewings and home moves. 

Speaking from Bristol on Tuesday whilst visiting a mass vaccination centre, the Prime Minister said: “We’re going to keep the rules under constant review, where we have to tighten them, we will.”

“Of course, if we feel things are not being properly observed, then we may have to do more,” Johnson added. “But, far, far better for people to obey the rules that we have, than to simply promulgate new rules.”

The updated government guidance offers advice on how tighter restrictions could have an impact on moving home which would also affect sales and lettings activity.

The official Government guidelines on moving home during the Covid-19 pandemic states: “It may become necessary to pause all home moves locally or nationally for a short period of time to manage the spread of coronavirus. We will let you know if this needs to happen.”

The guidance also states: “You should not expect to immediately be able to move into any home where people have Covid-19 or are self-isolating”.

A concerned individual named Vikram Shah has recently started an online petition which already has thousands of signatures and is asking the government to reconsider their decision to keep the housing market open during this current national lockdown, despite estate agents not being "essential workers".

David Andrew Managing Director, David Brett says "Despite having a substantially large property portfolio to manage, in our opinion, the housing market is not an essential business and shouldn't therefore, be kept open during this national crisis.  However, until the government expand on these current lockdown restrictions, just like our competitors, we will continue to keep our offices open, despite our very real concerns and reservations.  We believe, it is much safer to have online viewings and the majority of staff working remotely from home, but with one key member on call in each office, to cover maintenance issues including repairs, renewal of gas certificates etc. So, we would urge the PM to rethink the existing guidelines and just like the first lockdown, revert to calling on the housing market and estate agents to close their offices until the rate of Covid-19 infections and death rates start to fall."

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