Guidance for those working within the home buying and selling process and those moving home.
Applies to England
What has changed
The government has announced that the measures put in place under Plan B in England will be lifted.
- The government is no longer asking people to work from home if they can. People should now talk to their employers to agree arrangements to return to the office.
- From 20 January: Face coverings will no longer be advised for staff and pupils in secondary school and college classrooms.
- From 27 January: Face coverings will no longer be advised for staff and pupils in communal areas of secondary schools, nor for staff in communal areas of primaries.
- From 27 January: There is no longer a legal requirement to wear a face covering. The government suggests that you continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you may come into contact with other people you do not normally meet.
- From 27 January: Venues and events will no longer be required by law to check visitors’ NHS COVID Pass. The NHS COVID Pass can still be used on a voluntary basis.
This guidance will be updated shortly to include more information on these changes. You should continue to follow all of the guidance on this page to keep yourself and others safe.
This guidance provides advice to those working within the home buying and selling process and those moving home. Read it alongside the guidance on what you should do to keep safe.
Following the emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, it is necessary to re-introduce some measures to manage the virus. This guidance sets out what these measures are and what you should do to protect yourself and others.
The housing market in England remains open. This means that people looking to move home can both continue with planned moves and view new properties to move into in the future. Estate and letting agents, removers, valuers, and people in sales and letting offices and show homes can continue working. Everyone should follow the guidance below to keep themselves and others safe.
General advice to industry and those moving home
We urge everyone involved in the home buying and selling process to continue to follow good hygiene practices, including regular hand-washing, sanitising, and cleaning. These measures will help prevent the spread of infection.
We encourage all parties involved to be as flexible as possible and be prepared to delay moves, for example if one of those involved becomes ill with COVID-19 during the moving process or has to self-isolate.
How businesses can mitigate risk
All businesses should follow the government’s latest guidance for employers and businesses. Individual sector bodies may issue their own supplementary guidance in order to protect their members and their clients.
Working from home
Office workers who can work from home, should do so from Monday 13 December. Anyone who cannot work from home should continue to go into work - for example, to access equipment necessary for their role or where their role must be completed in-person. In-person working will be necessary in some parts of the home moving industry. If you need to continue to go into work, you should consider taking lateral flow tests regularly to manage your own risk and the risk to others.
Employers should consider whether home working is appropriate for workers facing mental or physical health difficulties, or those with a particularly challenging home working environment.
For those who attend their workplace, the government will continue to provide up-to-date Working safely guidance on how employers can reduce the risks in their workplace. Businesses should consider this guidance when preparing their health and safety risk assessments, and put in place suitable mitigations.
In England, face coverings are now required by law in most indoor public places and on public transport. Face coverings must be worn by members of staff in estate agent premises. With regards to visiting property, face coverings should be worn in accordance with the guidelines set out below.
Staff should wear face coverings when they are likely to come into close contact with members of the public. This means that the agent and anyone else visiting the property should consider wearing a face covering as they may come into contact with people they do not normally meet during a viewing. Agents should make this clear to homeowners and guests prior to any viewing.
Some people, including people with disabilities, are exempt from having to wear face coverings in any setting. They do not routinely need to show any written evidence of this, and do not need to show an exemption card (though they may choose to do so).
Settings in which face coverings are required must display signage or take other measures to ensure customers are aware of the requirement to wear a face covering on their premises where there is no applicable exemption or reasonable excuse.
More information, including the full list of settings where face coverings are required or not, can be found in Face coverings: when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own.
Property agents, conveyancers and other professionals may choose to retain some modifications to how they work to reduce the risk from COVID-19. These changes could impact your move and may include initial virtual viewings before in-person viewings, asking you to vacate your current property during viewings, and ensuring your property is thoroughly cleaned before someone else views it or moves in. We would ask that you cooperate with these measures where they are in place.
The government has provided detailed guidance on reducing the risk of COVID-19 in workplaces. Employers should consider this guidance when completing their health and safety risk assessment, to help them decide which mitigations to put in place.
Private rented and social housing sectors
Those renting a property, letting agents and landlords should be aware of and follow the government guidance on coronavirus and renting which contains further advice that may also be applicable such as on possession proceedings, repairs, maintenance and health and safety.
Self-isolating and quarantine
If you have COVID-19 symptoms you should stay at home and self-isolate immediately. You should arrange to have a PCR test as soon as possible. If this PCR test result is positive, you must continue to self-isolate.
If you do not have COVID-19 symptoms, but you have a positive PCR test result, you must stay at home and self-isolate.
If you live in the same household as someone with COVID-19 you are at significantly higher risk of becoming infected yourself.
If you have been vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine, you are less likely to become severely ill if you catch COVID-19. You are also less likely to spread COVID-19 to other people, but it is still possible for this to happen.
- if you are aged 18 years 6 months or over and you are not fully vaccinated, and you live in the same household as someone with COVID-19, you are legally required to stay at home and self-isolate
- if you are fully vaccinated or aged under 18 years and 6 months, and you live in the same household as someone with COVID-19, you are not legally required to self-isolate. However, you are strongly advised to take an Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test every day for 7 days, and to self-isolate if any of these test results is positive
It is now possible to end self-isolation on the sixth day, following 5 full days isolating and 2 consecutive negative LFD tests taken 24 hours apart. The first LFD test should not be taken before the fifth day. The self-isolation period remains 10 full days for those without negative results from 2 LFD tests taken a day apart.
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 following key general protections continue to apply both to those moving home and those working in the industry:
- If you get any COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test. Find out more about what to do if you have COVID-19.
- You must still self-isolate if you are told to do so by NHS Test and Trace.
- If you are self-isolating, you should not view or work in other people’s homes for the duration of your isolation. Home viewings can continue to take place virtually, if possible.
- There are some legal exceptions which still allow you to leave home. Read the guidance for those with possible or confirmed coronavirus infection.
- You must follow the quarantine rules when entering England. Read the guidance on entering England.
All parties involved in home buying and selling should prioritise agreeing amicable arrangements to change completion dates where someone in a chain or their family member is self-isolating or has tested positive for coronavirus.
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.
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.
Coming into close contact with other people
We continue to urge caution and personal responsibility in situations involving physical contact with others.
Aside from self-isolation rules as detailed above, 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.
In indoor settings where a face covering is not legally required, you should continue to wear a face covering in enclosed spaces where you may come into contact with other people you do not normally meet. It is important that everyone continues to follow the safe hygiene practices as described above, and you should let in fresh air if people are viewing your property.
Tradespeople in the home
Tradespeople can continue to work in other people’s homes unless customers or tradespeople are self-isolating, as detailed above. In indoor settings where a face covering is not legally required, you should continue to wear a face covering in enclosed spaces where you may come into contact with other people you do not normally meet.
Members of the public should ensure their homes are clean and safe before tradespeople enter. This may involve cleaning items being carried by removals firms, wiping surfaces such as worktops and door handles, letting fresh air into rooms, and seeking to delay work if either party is showing COVID-19 symptoms.
Going further than this guidance
The above guidance describes the minimum best practices you should follow to help keep yourself and others safe.
If you want additional measures or reasonable conditions in place for your move, please talk to the appropriate business about how to proceed.
These measures could include, for example, placing a cap on the number of visitors viewing your home at any one time. These measures are at the discretion of the homeowner and we would ask you 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.