Support, Advice and Experience within the Property Market

Reopening the Housing Market in England

From Robert Ulph on May 21, 2020

Last week I wrote about how businesses will start to look at a safe return to work following the Government announcement to start easing some of the lockdown restrictions and we now have further information on what this means for the housing market in this country.

The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, made a statement to the House of Commons last week where he set the context by emphasising the importance of homes, particularly where personal circumstances change, saying that over 450,000 sales have been stuck in the system unable to progress during the lockdown period.

In addition, every month 300,000 tenancies come up for renewal and the pressure to move has become “acute” for some, from both a financial and legal point of view which is why the Government is announcing a comprehensive, clear, and coherent plan to reopen the housing industry. This includes lifting the temporary freeze on home moving, meaning that “anyone can move, at any time and for any reason”.

To support the safe execution of this, the Government has published guidance influenced by Public Health advice in order to support this “relevant and critical industry.”

As I wrote last week, virtual viewings are still the preference wherever possible but as long as those involved are not isolating or shielding, anyone can now move house again. All of the building blocks of the industry are back in place, as long as work is carried out as safely as possible.

This means that agents’ offices can reopen, removal companies can start work, surveyors, conveyancers, and valuers can go back to work and show homes can reopen.

Thorough and regular cleaning is absolutely essential where professionals and the public are visiting other people’s homes and everyone involved must take all relevant precautions in order to control the virus and protect the public.

Mr Jenrick described this as the “most radical restarting of an industry” thus far, encouraging all parties to work flexibly together and conceding that there is no precedent allowing anyone to accurately judge the state of the housing market.

He addressed the industry directly: “To all who work in the sector, I am doing everything I can to help the industry bounce back, to protect lives, save jobs and renew and refresh the housing market”

Questions have been asked about what this means for the temporary ban of evictions in rental property which is currently in place. The Minister stated that he will be monitoring progress over the coming weeks and months and retains the power to extend the ban on evictions beyond June, if required.

At Pennington we are closely following the Government-issued guidance on what this entails and adopting the public health information to ensure that this activity can happen safely.

As always, if you have questions on this or require any advice, please do not hesitate to contact me as I am always happy to help.