The government has set out a number of restrictions in local lockdown areas across the UK. How will the rules affect housing markets in these locations?
At present, the housing market is moving apace despite the restrictions created by COVID-19. Transaction levels are booming, as the sector has found ways to continue with property sales while adhering to government rules.
While the UK-wide lockdown eased up several months ago, certain areas are subject to local lockdowns. This includes many parts of the north-west, such as Greater Manchester, as well as the north-east and areas in the Midlands.
According to latest figures, as the UK braces for a second wave, more local lockdowns could come into effect. This could begin to include parts of London and the south of England. In these areas, some of the measures include curfews on hospitality venues, closures of certain businesses, and restrictions on who you can meet. Now that the guidelines have become law, police can issue fines to those who breach local and national rules.
Will lockdown affect buying and selling property?
While there was a short-term lull in the market as everyone in the industry got to grips with new rules, things are largely back on track now. Estate agents and letting agents have enabled digital and virtual viewings to go ahead across much of the country. Similarly, solicitors and conveyancers have made efforts to conduct their work remotely where possible.
The government has published a set of national guidance available on its website for those buying, selling and moving. However, in light of new local lockdown restrictions, people are urged to check on the individual rules for that area.
All areas under local lockdown have a list of exceptional circumstances where people can continue activities despite restrictions. In most cases, facilitating a house move is included in this. This means that, for most property purchases, including new-build developments, transactions and moves can largely progress as normal.
What about the private rented sector?
One of the biggest changes affecting the private rented sector right now is tenant evictions. New rules mean landlords must now give tenants six months’ notice to repossess their properties. However, the courts are now open again to hear the most urgent cases. This includes where there has been significant antisocial behaviour or domestic abuse issues, among other things.
In terms of starting new tenancy agreements and viewings, like in the rest of the housing sector, people have adapted to new methods. Virtual viewings are available on many rental properties, and much of the process with landlords and agents doesn’t require face-to-face contact. Even check-ins can now be automated, with key drop-off points.