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Can I view, buy, sell and move house in lockdown 2021?

The UK is now in lockdown. What does this mean for your house sale, purchase or move?

Post updated: January 5th, 2021

5 minute read

Can I view, buy, sell and move house in lockdown 2021?

A lockdown has been introduced in England until the mid-February half-term. We are all being asked to stay home, work from home where we can and all schools are closed with online learning for most.

Scotland enters a lockdown now until end January, while Northern Ireland and Wales are already in lockdown.

Can I still move house in lockdown?

Yes, you can still move home.

But, people outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary.

Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work. If you are looking to move, you can go to property viewings.

All parties must follow the national guidance on moving home safely, which includes social distancing, letting fresh air in, and wearing a face covering.

Can I visit other areas to move home during COVID now?

Yes.  The sales and rental markets remain open. All associated activities can continue as before.

You are allowed to stay overnight away from your home if you need accommodation while moving house.

Obviously though, the government is asking us to use our judgement and only move if absolutely necessary.

If you need to travel into a different area, that activity can continue, if it can’t be delayed to a later date.

Can I view a property during the coronavirus pandemic?

Yes. But see below for guidance on how these should be conducted.

Can a friend/relative help me move?

Government advice is that people outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary.

Can I list my home for sale at the moment?

Yes. When it comes to appointing your estate agent, give them a call to speak to them. You can visit an estate agent but many are only opening their office doors for people that have booked an appointment.

You can market your home and estate agents can visit in order to take photos/videos of your property.

Find and Compare Local Estate Agents

This form will take you to www.estateagent4me.co.uk for the results

What about COVID restrictions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

Yes, in all countries you are permitted to move house if you can’t delay your move to when restrictions are lifted.

In England, you should follow the national guidance on moving home safely, which includes advice on social distancing and wearing a face covering.

In Wales, if you can’t delay the moving date, then follow their guidance for moving during the pandemic.

Scotland’s guidance is similar, as is Northern Ireland’s advice.

What changes apply when moving home during coronavirus?

You can expect the following to apply as part of the “new normal” for moving home at the moment:

1. More is being done online

The process of searching for and moving into a new home is different because property agents, conveyancers and other professionals have modified how they work to reduce the risk from COVID-19.

These changes include doing more online, such as offering virtual viewings. While these are a good initial filter of a property you want to buy, you will want to visit it in person before parting with your hard earned cash.

If you are selling, then online estate agents offer an affordable and, as the name suggests, online service. Take a look at our online estate agent comparison table which compares all the main providers, from PurpleBricks to YOPA so you can choose the right package and price for your house sale.

2. Viewings rules

With physical viewings, the government advise that:

  • there should be no more than 2 households inside the property at any one time. This includes any agent accompanying either party. Anyone in a support bubble with either household, however, will count as part of that household.
  • Viewings in person need to be arranged by appointment only. When viewing in person, you should maintain a 2 meter distance where possible and avoid touching surfaces.
  • Homeowners should keep internal doors open and clean surfaces and door handles with standard household cleaning products afterwards.
  • Estate agents and potential buyers/tenants should wear face masks during viewings.

3. Expect delays and be flexible

If someone in your chain has symptoms of COVID you could have to wait while they self isolate which could add delays to your home move.

Your conveyancer will be able to make sure that any contracts or agreements are as flexible as possible to accommodate this risk.

In particular, you will want to protect yourself against the likelihood of a sudden change in circumstances which could undermine your sale and/or purchase, and expose you to unexpected costs.

A “Covid Clause” within the contract offers parties the ability to exchange contracts while ensuring you are not at fault and in breach of contract, with all of the associated costs, if you are unable to complete because of a coronavirus related issue. Speak to a conveyancing solicitor for advice.

The 3 most important ways to minimise delays are:

  1. Instructing a conveyancing solicitor as soon as you list your home or as your offer is accepted. You can compare quotes now from conveyancing solicitors and speak to them about the process and costs so you’re ready to instruct them.
  2. Getting your paperwork in order. If it’s leasehold, find the lease. Locate certificates showing compliance with regulations of any works done from planning permissions to FENSA certificates for window replacements. Don’t forget valid guarantees a home buyer will want to see. See what documents you’ll need.
  3. Sorting your mortgage. Many lenders and brokers are experiencing COVID related delays and mortgage choices have significantly reduced, especially for first time buyers. Avoid wasting time later down the line and start the mortgage process now.

4. Packing and moving

The government advise you do as much of the packing yourself. If you are using a removals firm or someone outside your household is helping you, then these additional rules apply:

  • clean your belongings where possible before being handled
  • leave doors open
  • do not provide refreshments
  • use separate towels or paper towels for hand washing where possible

If you need help with your move, find a local removals firm and get removals quotes now.

You may want to speak to a cleaning firm for your home, or the house you are moving into. A deep clean of your onward home once it has been vacated might help put you at ease. To find a cleaner near you, simply type “cleaning services” in the tool below.

Can a tradesperson still come into my house?

Yes – tradespeople like electricians, plumbers, repairers of domestic appliances can enter your home. They will need to follow social distancing guidance.

Can I visit my second home during lockdown?

Government guidance says you cannot leave your home or the place where you are living for holidays or overnight stays unless you have a reasonable excuse for doing so. This means that holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed. This includes staying in a second home or caravan, if that is not your primary residence.

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How has this latest lockdown impacted on your house move plans? Tell us in the comments below

 


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  1. Yes it has I’ve sold my house but cannot view property as I need to go out of the area as we want to move up north I have text boris Johnson twice but nobody gets back to me. If you can view property you should be able to go to different area to view property and stay overnight in a hotel as distance too far but rules say can’t leave area and can’t stay in hotels yet you can view property. He need to make up his mind if you can view property then you have the right to stay in hotel if you changing areas you want to live in

  2. I’m completing on a second property in a few weeks, can I visit it on completion to make sure all is well for sale and maybe drop off some items? If I can’t visit, it doesn’t feel right to complete but not be able to inspect it.

  3. Hi,
    We are due to move into our new home early next month, can I travel to the property daily to decorate? Thank you

  4. Yes been trying to move to Spain and can’t even get out there now to view property, ok if you want a move within the UK and also now have Brexit and Residency rules to follow. I am now retired and due to the financial implications am finding it hard to maintain the standard of living and maintenance on my house. It is awful.

  5. Im a Tenant living in a rented flat that is currently up for sale as a buy to let with Tenants in Situ. The Estate agency want to bring people round to view the property right at the height of the Covid Pandemic. I thinknthus is not a safe thing to be doing. I don’t want people entering the Prooerty at the moment. What are my rights please?

  6. I want to view properties outside my city. Is this allowed during the lockdown for example in birmingham?

  7. I am due to complete in a couple of weeks and my new place wont be ready. Can I move in with a family friend, as my support bubble, or do I need to find a hotel to live in.

  8. I have a tenant due to move out on the 2nd February so will need to do a check out with them and also then tidy/clean/paint the property ready to relet.
    It is 100miles from my home so am I allowed to stay away during this time to do the check out and any work needed to be done?
    Many thanks

  9. Hi we want to visit a house we are purchasing in order to meet our builder and architect it is in another country about 40 miles away can we do this

  10. We have bought a new build house, and they insist on a 28 day exchange.
    We knew this when we agreed to buy, but with the current covid situation, there has been delays along the way. Such as searches and Mortage offer.
    They have just given us 4 working days to exchange or we will loose the purchase of our new house, even though we are about a week or two from this happening. Can they still pull the purchase from us?

  11. I wish to view properties that are out of my local area. About 80 miles away. My house is sold. Can I do this without breaking the rules.
    Can I stay overnight in a hotel because of the distsnce

  12. We have recently completed on a house 200 miles away and plan to relocate their permanently. We want to start moving stuff to the new house so that we can put our current house on the market as soon as possible.
    We cannot move into the new house as works are being done and it is not habitable. We understand that we can stay in our nearby holiday let whilst we are moving our stuff and whilst work is being done. Can you confirm this?

  13. I’m selling a house 30 miles from where I live, and I need to get the boiler serviced before completion. Am I allowed to drive there ?

    • Hi Maria. Yes you can. Activities related to preparing a house for sale are allowed, where they can’t be postponed. Do ensure that you and any tradespeople entering the property do not show symptoms of COVID-19. Where a tradesperson is visiting the property, the government guidance states you should all maintain social distancing, wash hands regularly and minimise contact as far as possible. Good luck. Angela (HomeOwners Alliance)

  14. I live in surrey and want to move to Devon we have cash so can move with no chain, we want to view three properties but are we allowed to travel.

    • Hi Mike. Yes you are allowed to travel to view properties. You are also allowed to stay overnight if necessary. Government guidance also states that where possible, you should use virtual viewings before visiting properties in person in order to minimise public health risks. And as stated above you should wear a mask, practise social distancing and hand washing on all viewings. Good luck with the search. Angela (HomeOwners Alliance)

  15. Hi, can I travel up to Merseyside to clear my late mother’s house?
    Would really appreciate some guidance!

  16. The rules allow House viewings but there is no guidance as if allowed to stay overnight to facilitate such viewings. The house I need to see is a 250 mile round trip. I would like to stay overnight as too far in one day.

    • Yes government guidance does state that you can stay overnight for the reason of moving house. Good luck with your move.

    • Hi Wendy, You can view a second home or investment property but if the purchase goes through, you won’t be able to stay there during lockdown. Good luck with it. Angela (HomeOwners Alliance)

  17. Hi.my partner moved to London from north of England in July.he lived with his grandfather. Unfortunately his grandfather just told us that he has terminal cancer is in hospital and will never go back to his property. He wants to sell his house a d asked my partner to go take the rest of his belongings out of the property and clear it out of all sentimental values items before he sells it.may I go with him to help him packing ?(we live together) I man healthcare professional who works on the frontline and I worry about getting a fine and losing my.licence

    • Hi Erica, I’m so sorry to hear about your partner’s grandfather. I would say if you can wait until after lockdown, then you should. But if you can’t, then the rules do say you can carry on with activities connected to selling a house as long as you do so in a way that follows the guidance on social distancing and so on (see above). As you are both in a household together then I am sure it is ok for you both to attend. Be aware that most local authority waste disposal sites are only taking bookings so you may want to investigate this or getting a skip before you arrive. Angela (HomeOwners Alliance)

  18. We are planning to re locate 100 miles from where we live today. Can we rent a place for a week to facilitate property viewings?

  19. We are buying a second home which is 4 hrs drive from our main residence and this is likely to go through in the next few weeks. Are we still allowed to drive to this property and move our furniture into this house, stay overnight, and then return home without contact with local people? We understand that we won’t then be allowed to visit this second property due to restrictions but we were unsure about the move. Thank you

  20. Hi,
    Is it OK to conduct viewings on my leasehold holiday lodge situated on a small private park ? Thanks Tony

  21. Hi is it ok to look at properties in Wales, i live near London.
    Should viewers wear masks & gloves or just masks.
    Many thanks
    Nobby

  22. Hi, I have completed on a house some 180 miles from where I currently reside, I would like to travel at weekends with a view to doing house up with internal renovations etc, I want to stay at weekends is this allowable?

  23. Hi, am I allowed to travel and stay overnight somewhere to view a property? We live in Berkshire, have sold our house and want to view properties in Pembrokeshire but too far for a day trip.

  24. What about house clearance companies? Can they still carry on working during a lockdown? I am selling my house, but there is a lot of stuff that I need to get rid of before moving.

  25. Is it OK to travel to another county to view properties? My son’s house is sold and the vendors want to complete by 31 March, but he needs to view houses 3 hours away. We will not stay anywhere overnight.

  26. Hello,
    I have an appointment to view the property in different town and county about 50 miles away.
    Am I still allowed to proceed the viewing?
    Am I also allowed to make more arrangements for properties viewing?

  27. Hello,

    I am pregnant and living in a one bedroomed apartment, working fulltime from home. I move out on the 16th. However my estate agents have booked in viewings for the public and I am working during those times, therefore I will be at home. Can I refuse to let viewings happen whilst I reside at the property until I move out?

  28. As of today (4th January) because the virus spread and deaths have doubled and re doubled since before Christmas, we are all once again in a UK style FULL lockdown.
    However, some strange anomalies have once again occurred in that garden centres are listed as being essential and allowed to stay open, but clothes shops and similar are deemed inessential and must close!
    We have sold our house and are currently going through the Conveyancing process of buying a new home. As my wife and myself are once again told we must shield because we are in the most vulnerable section, we are frightened that we could be forced to exchange contracts and complete – thus breaking the Government’s “Stay at home, unless it’s an emergency, if you are a shielded person”. With the Land Registry 31st March deadline getting ever nearer, our buyers may back out. Therefore, we would rather wait until we have been vaccinated (we are in level 3 for vaccination). This could mean waiting until after 31st March !!!

    • Oh dear, Paul, that’s all terrible to hear. Remember you are only legally bound once contracts have been exchanged and no one can force you to do that. Moving home does not put you in breach of the law under latest lockdown rules; you can still move home. But obviously you will want to weigh that up against putting yourself at undue risk given your vulnerable status. Perhaps a conversation with your solicitor and vendor to explain the situation and plea for a delay to exchange contracts until we all know more. I imagine we will have a better view on the state of things as we approach the February half term. All the best. Angela (HomeOwners Alliance)

  29. We are due to move mid February to house about 20 minutes from where we are staying at the moment, I am also due my baby at this time so It is really important for our wellbeing as a family that we get into new place.
    Are we still okay to go ahead with move?
    Advice needed

    • Yes Claire, your move can go ahead. Good luck with the move and your new baby! Angela (HomeOwners Alliance)

  30. What about stamp duty, is the government extending the time limit of 31st march, to help the home buyers, in this confusing time of the pandemic.

  31. I’m currently in London, but am looking to move up to the Manchester/Leeds area. Am I still able to go & view properties? I am due to complete on my flat sale in March so am on a short timescale.

  32. We are moving 230 miles away and I need family members to help move in stages as we are not buying till there due to covid and work . Can we hire a van to move to where we will be staying ie family

  33. we are currently in tier 2, our property is sold stc, we are moving to a tier 3 area but have not started viewing due to the restrictions, when we have completed we want to go to our ‘new’ area and stay in our motorhome whilst viewing, our furniture will go into storage, from tier 2 to tier 3, is this okay

  34. So I have recently accepted an offer on my house (sstc) and had the offer accepted on my new purchase. I have had my buyers lender come to value my house but haven’t yet heard back, does anyone know how long normally takes. Also how long would I be looking at to receive keys to the new property if all goes well. Sorry never sold a property before, its all new to me.

  35. Hello,
    I live in tier 4 (just changed recently), am I allowed to view the property (by prior arrangement with the agent) in tier 3 about 30miles away?
    Thanks.

  36. Hello I live in England and I am due to move house on the 18th of January. My father lives in Wales and he’s the only person we have found to drive the rental van…is he able to travel to us to help us move house?

  37. Re Simon Bain’s comment “Estate agents tell us we cannot physically view a property unless our own property is under offer. They say these are government rules. They also say agents or vendors can permit it if they are minded to.”

    This isn’t a government rule, but it is something most homesellers wish were a government rule, and something sellers have a right to insist upon, and for very good reason.

    Like so many other sellers, I placed my property on the market earlier this year, got an offer in March, but then found the charming couple who made the offer on it, had not even had their own property valued, let alone placed it on the market (thanks again Pullens). Despite this they insisted I removed my property from the market as a condition of accepting their offer.

    I then waited incredibly patiently as these people made idiotic decision after idiotic decision, such as going with their ‘chosen agency’, which was closed completely for months, staying with that agency when they got them no viewings or offers, and they were ‘deeply unhappy with them’, until they finally went with my own agency, something that had been suggested to them throughout, and then got an offer within 3 weeks. Having patiently waited for these people for a total of 4 months, they then impatiently and hypocritically accused ME of holding up their sale and almost immediately thoughtlessly and selfishly withdrew their offer, and decided to buy another house instead.

    THAT is precisely why sellers and estate agents prefer, even under normal circumstances that potential buyers have their own properties under offer BEFORE viewing other properties. If you are not in that position, any viewings you go on you are simply BROWSING and any offers you make are utterly MEANINGLESS, and the chances are you will turn out to be TIMEWASTERS, no matter what protestations you make otherwise. In the case of those viewings also being during a pandemic, those viewings would therefore be entirely pointless, and a complete waste of everyones’ time, therefore also exposing everyone concerned, entirely unnecessarily.

  38. i am trying to sell my home,but i dont think many people will want to view,in tier 4,so i will miss the tax holiday not fair on people who cant really do much about it if people are to scared to go out,i am 76 and worried, as i wont to move near my daughter.

  39. Hello, I hope you can help.

    We are relocating to a new area in England 60 miles from our current home and we’ve sold our house. Our buyer has been patient throughout but we’re now in danger of losing the sale We are in tier 4 and have an opportunity to view houses in the next few days. Can we travel & have an overnight stay to do house viewings if we’re still in tier 4?

  40. Hello, I hope you can help.

    We are relocating to a new area in England 200 miles from our current home. My husband has accepted a new job there and we’ve sold our house. We had 2 weeks off work in November and had planned a trip to the area to house hunt & look a nurserys then we went into lockdown and the accommodation we booked cancelled our booking saying overnight stays for house viewings weren’t allowed. We had another trip over Christmas booked but that’s now been cancelled following today’s announcement. Our buyer has been patient throughout but we’re now in danger of losing the sale or being homeless! We’re in tier 4 and have one more opportunity in January to have time off work. Can we travel & have an overnight stay to do house viewings if we’re still in tier 4?

  41. I wonder if you can help please

    I have a weekend cottage (not let out) and am unclear whether I can visit it at the moment to make sure all is in order.

    I live in Co Durham – a TIER 3 area – and the cottage is also in Co Durham.

    I need to visit it so that I don’t fall foul of the insurance cover re leaving the property unoccupied for too long a period.

    Any help that you can offer would be greatly appreciated

    Thank you

    M G Ackroyd

  42. My solicitor is sorting out probate and the sale of my mothers house. He is also conveyancing for a property I have made an offer on locally. All properties are in Wales. My brother is currently residing in the the house to be sold in The Vale of Glamorgan while he no longer visits his rented accommodation in Slough. I live in Carmarthenshire. My brother has to be out of the property by 20th March 2021 for the sale to go ahead. We are both executors and sole beneficiaries. He has health issues and hasn’t started packing or sorting out anything. Can I go to the property no matter what lock down we are in to organise the house. I did cross local authority borders for my mothers funeral. Should he be booking cleaners/removal van and house clearance asap.

  43. Due to exchange today with completion 11 January- if we go into tier 4 will we still be able to complete and if not can Bellway sue their purchaser top of the chain??

  44. We’ve sold our house and are looking to move out of the area. Our buyer has been patient during the national lockdown and we had planned to do a weekend of house viewings on the 5th and 6th December which would require an overnight stay as it’s a 7 hour round trip. However we will be in tier 3 when we come out of lockdown, will this be permitted? If not we are in the situation of either losing our sale or being homeless.

  45. My partner and I are trying to sell our flat. We have a viewing booked in for Saturday, however the building management are kicking up a fuss and saying that we can’t have a viewing as they don’t want any outsiders coming into the building. Where do we stand on this, do the building management have the right to stop us?

  46. We sold our house in October, putting furniture into storage. Our new build home is now (Covid) delayed till December. We have a static caravan, can we use it during Lockdown 2 as we are ‘homeless’?

  47. Hi . My son is moving apartment and lives in central Manchester. My wife and I live in Chesterfield. Can we go and help him with his move ?

  48. Hi I currently rent in Bristol and have been made redundant and need to move back in with parents in Wales is this allowed

  49. Hi I’m in the process of selling my late mother’s house in Wales, but I live in England, can I travel there and stay over night as there is still some sorting out to do before completion.

  50. My buyer has still not exchanged since I accepted his offer on condition that completion was by end Sept. beginning of Oct. Delays supposedly due to the mortgage not yet processed after eventual valuation approved. The seller is now undergoing operations and I can’t kick him when he is down. I should be moving from London to Devon after several abortive sales. Can I hire a van, stay in Devon overnight to prepare & move remaining
    stuff down after exchange but prior to completion? I am virtually camping in flat I am selling.

  51. Estate agents tell us we cannot physically view a property unless our own property is under offer. They say these are government rules. They also say agents or vendors can permit it if they are minded to.
    I would expect HOA to mention this if true.

  52. My house is under offer my buyer wants a second viewing this weekend they intend to travel from Bristol to North Devon. is this an unnecessary viewing and should I say no.

  53. Hi I live in England, and I have a estate agent telling me as I am in lockdown level 2 I cannot view a property in his area as it is in lockdown level 1, yet England is all under the same lockdown rules as of tomorrow, the 5th November

  54. We are in the middle of our purchasing our first home, the people were buying off live in England and the house were buying is in wales. Will the current home owners be able to travel from England to wales to move out their stuff and hand over the keys as England is going into a month lockdown

  55. Our landlady has put the house up for sale we are currently living in can people still come to view with current lockdown

  56. We have just bought a second home in another part of England. We have arranged for furniture to be delivered next week, in lockdown. Are we still allowed to do this and stay in the place to accept delivery and get everything sorted?

  57. We have an offer on our house and intend to move to Northern Ireland. We are in Kent so it is too far to go in one day and across on the ferry. The option would be to stop over but we see that during the latest lockdown this is not allowed unless business related. Would this be considered business related/

  58. Can I still move house I am currently bidding on houses does this affected me moving as its due to my relationship ended thank you

  59. I have my completion day this Friday (6th November) and also have given notice to be out of rented accommodation by the 21st. Would we still get the keys from the estate agent to commence the move, and also as we are not using a removals firm, can we still hire a van?

  60. I have had an offer and excepted, I have a survey booked for 24th nov 2020 a building survey I live in Hampshire can this still go ahead With lockdown. Could I move out for a week so it may go ahead if restrictions don’t allow if I’m living there. J

  61. I live in the Central Belt of Scotland and am buying a house in Bridgend Wales. Am I allowed to move.

  62. I’m currently trying to complete on a house in a Tier 3 area but insurance want me moved in within 2 weeks but I want to be able to have my parents help me with getting the decorating sorted but under Tier 3 as soon as I start living there they won’t be able to visit to do this.

    I don’t have a clue what to do here and regular insurers like Admiral are really unhelpful.

    These local lockdown rules make no sense considering I’m doing the same thing with the same people but the moment I start stay the night at my new place I’m not allowed to anymore.

  63. Can I move in with my parents whilst my new build is completed? I am in essex they are in Norfolk?

  64. Good evening
    I am from Greece.
    But iove Scotland and I want to buy a castle with mortgage and create a business.
    I am music teacher and writer
    Thank you

  65. “Yes, you can move house during local lockdown
    The government advice is clear on this. Even where local restrictions apply, people can move home.” Does this also apply in Wales please?

  66. You refer to instructing a conveyancing solicitor. A conveyancer is not necessarily a solicitor.

    Some solicitors are having difficulties in maintaining professional insurance cover which might not be the case with other conveyancers

    If a conveyancing solicitor is recommended by an agent, get the latter to supply written proof that due diligence has been applied to establish that your interests will be covered

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