The latest version of the government’s guidance to agents over how to operate during the continuing pandemic suggests that virtual viewings should still be the first priority before physical ones - even as we emerge from lockdown.
Update guidance for the industry and landlords and tenants, put on the government website just before the start of the weekend, says: “There are no legal limits on the households which may view a home in person. We would, however, continue to recommend that buyers take advantage of any opportunities to view homes remotely before committing to view in person.
“It is important that everyone continues to follow the safe hygiene practices as described above. You should consider wearing a face covering while you are viewing a property. If you would like people to wear a face covering when they view your property, you should make this clear to your agent.”
And for tenants and their agents, the updated guidance says: “Once you have exchanged contracts or signed a tenancy agreement, you have entered into a legal agreement to purchase or rent the property. 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.”
It continues: “If you are about to enter into a legally binding contract, you should discuss the possible implications of Covid-19 with your legal professional and consider making contractual provisions or other necessary measures to manage these risks.
“You should not expect to immediately be able to move into any home where people have COVID-19 or are self-isolating. There is a greater risk that home moves may need to be delayed if someone in the transaction shows symptoms of COVID-19 or is self-isolating.”
The guidance is also emphatic that decisions on how far precautions should be taken should be up to the tenant or vendor.
It says additional measures they could request include “requesting those visiting your home to wear face coverings as a condition of the sale. [Those] opening their home for viewings may want to place a cap on the number of visitors at any one time. These measures are at the discretion of the homeowner and we would ask [agents] to accommodate their wishes.
“Agents and other industry professionals should ensure their clients are aware of and comply with these additional requirements, where they do not discriminate against protected characteristics.”
You can see the full latest guidance here.