England is now under four tiers of coronavirus restrictions, with London and parts of the south east having been placed in the highest tier by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The good news is that under the government’s new advice, the housing market remains open for business, whether you’re buying, selling, renting or letting.
Tier 4 – stay at home
Tier four replaces tier three as the very highest level of English restrictions and is reserved for areas in England where transmission rates of Covid-19 are rising rapidly.
People living in these areas are not allowed to meet anybody outside of their household or support bubble in an indoor or outdoor setting, apart from open public spaces such as parks and beaches, where one individual may meet one person from outside their bubble.
Tier four residents have been advised to stay at home and cannot leave or be outside of the place they are living unless they have a reasonable excuse.
The public are also advised not to travel in and out of these areas, other than for work, education, accessing youth services or caring responsibilities.
What does tier 4 mean for the property market?
The government has been clear that the property market is staying open even as restrictions are toughened, and during the latest national lockdown moving services continued but with Covid-secure measures in place.
Leaving your home to undertake activities associated with finding and securing a new home, or moving home, are considered exemptions to the advice to stay at home.
However, people outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary.
The government has called for flexibility among movers and sellers under these measures, should plans have to change due to any of the households involved contracting or being exposed to Covid-19.
Can I view properties in a tier 4 area?
In-person viewings are still allowed under tier four. However, some estate agents, sellers and buyers may decide to postpone viewings while restrictions are in place.
That said, renewed lockdown measures may also heighten people’s desire to move if they are unhappy with their current accommodation.
Virtual viewings can continue to take place and are likely to be offered by estate agents in the first instance so that any in-person viewings are given to the most interested prospective buyers.
As in the lower tiers, Covid-secure measures should be firmly in place during in-person viewings.
Such measures include the wearing of face coverings, regular hand washing, keeping doors and windows open for good ventilation during the viewing, and only two prospective buyers from the same household entering the property at a time.
Sellers and the estate agent may choose to wait outside the property or decide not to be present while viewings are undertaken.
Open house viewings are not allowed under tier four or any of the lower tiers.
You can find out more about what to expect from socially distant viewings in this article.
If any member of either the household whose home is being viewed, or the household viewing, shows symptoms of Covid-19 or is self-isolating, then an in-person viewing should be delayed.
Are estate agents in tier 4 open?
However, as with tiers one, two and three, the toughened tier system means people are being encouraged to work from home when possible.
This might mean some agents choose to work from home, continuing to work digitally and remaining open at branch-level by appointment only.
Can I move house under tier 4?
Estate and lettings agents, removals, valuers and people in sales and lettings offices and show homes can to continue working under the tiered system.
Meeting with people outside your household or bubble “to facilitate moving home” is listed as one of the government’s exemptions from gatherings limits across all tiers.
Which English regions are in tier 4?
- All 32 London boroughs plus City of London
- Kent and Medway
- Berkshire (Bracknell Forest, Reading, Slough, Wokingham, Windsor and Maidenhead and West Berkshire)
- Surrey (excluding Waverley)
- Hastings and Rother
- Havant, Gosport and Portsmouth
East of England
- Essex (excluding Tendring, Uttlesford and Colchester)
- Central Bedfordshire, Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton