Property viewings included as reasonable excuse for leaving the house in England

Property viewings and visits to estate agents may be seen as a reasonable excuse for leaving the house, under regulations coming into force in England from Wednesday which could help to reinvigorate the market.

Under previous rules put in place to help limit the spread of Covid-19, moving house where it was reasonably necessary was already deemed a valid excuse for people to be away from home.

But under amendments to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) regulations in England, a reasonable excuse will now be expanded to include undertaking several activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property.

They include:

– Visiting estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes;

– Viewing residential properties to look for a property to buy or rent;

– Preparing a residential property to move in;

– Moving home;

– Visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property.

The housing market has nearly ground to a halt in recent weeks.

According to property website Zoopla, around 373,000 property transactions across the UK, with a total value of £82 billion, have been put on hold due to coronavirus lockdown measures.

House hunters have been able to do “virtual viewings” online in recent weeks.

But many may have been holding back from putting offers in until they could physically view a property.

Recent research by Savills found that, while prospective buyers at the top end of the property market have become less committed to moving in the near term, the experience of Covid-19 has made them more determined to move within the next couple of years.