Viewing A Home And Moving House Safely

Northern Ireland - Covid 19

Covid-19 regulations have been amended and we now have the green light to view properties and move home in Northern Ireland.
PropertyPal Covid 19 - Home Moving Guidance NI
Things have not gone ‘back to normal’. Whether you’re viewing a house to buy or rent, selling your home or facilitating a viewing, we all must take practical steps and follow government advice to ensure public health and safety. Click the button below which applies to you to find government advice and best practice guidelines. For more information please visit the government website which gives all official advice and more detail on areas such as rental properties, new build sales and guidance for tradespeople and solicitors.
  • PropertyPal - I’m viewing a house
    I’m viewing a house
  • PropertyPal - I’m selling my house
    I’m selling my house
  • PropertyPal - Rental Properties
    Rental Properties
  • PropertyPal - I’m an estate agent
    I’m an estate agent
  • PropertyPal - Moving house advice
    Moving house advice

I’m Viewing A House

First stop - online

Initial viewings of a property should be done virtually where possible. You can visit the Virtual Viewings page on PropertyPal to see all upcoming online appointments. When you search for homes on PropertyPal and when making an enquiry, ask the estate agent if they can facilitate a virtual viewing for you. It may not be possible for all agents to provide this service. Prior to a viewing, you should have a discussion with the estate agent over the phone, via email, Virtual Viewing or video call. You can ask any initial questions which will help ensure you are only paying physical visits to properties that suit your needs.
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - Viewing House
PropertyPal - Covid-19

COVID-19

Vulnerable people, showing symptoms or testing positive
If you or any member of your household are classed as vulnerable or are shielding you should ensure you are aware of the medical guidelines. You should postpone or delay any moving plans until you have received medical advice on whether you’re safe to do so.  You should also disclose your situation to any other parties involved in the moving process. If you are showing symptoms, self-isolating or have tested positive for Covid-19, you should not leave home to go to viewings.

Before the viewing

  • Limit the number of people at the viewing to two people maximum from your household. Avoid bringing children if you can.
  • Do your research beforehand and compile any questions you have to minimise the amount of time you will be in the property.
  • Bring items to protect yourself, such as a face mask, disposable gloves and hand sanitiser. These aren’t essential but are recommended. It is likely that the homeowner will provide hand washing facilities.
  • If you wish to buy a new build property you should contact the developer in the usual way. You should be able to view the show home or visit the particular plot you are interested in purchasing, although there will be appointment systems in place.
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - Before Viewing
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - Getting To Viewing

Getting to the viewing

  • All viewings should be done by appointment only. Do not show up unannounced at a property that’s listed for sale or rent.
  • Try to use your own transport or walk if you can Leave plenty of time if you are concerned about parking.
  • Arrive on time. It’s vital that you do this. There may be a number of viewing appointments that day and you want to ensure you minimise the potential number of visitors to the property at one time.
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - Getting To Viewing

At the viewing

  • Practice social distancing. The property should be vacated, however if not, maintain a distance of 2 metres at all times.
  • Do not touch any surfaces, if possible. The homeowner and estate agent should have opened all internal doors to reduce your need to touch anything. If you do touch a surface, inform the estate agent or homeowner.
  • Do not exceed your allotted time for the viewing Use your phone to take any notes or photographs and have additional discussions over the phone or via email.
  • If, at any point, you are particularly worried about the risk of infection, then speak to the professionals involved as they may be able to put in place extra measures.
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - At Viewing

I’m Selling My House

Thinking of selling your home?

If your home has not yet been listed online, it is likely that you will need to allow visitors to your home such as; an estate agent to visit to conduct an appraisal, a photographer to take pictures for the listing and an Energy Performance Assessor. Agree a time for this and try to vacate the property. If this is not possible, maintain a 2 metre distance from visitors at all times. All other aspects of listing your property should be done with the estate agent over the phone or via email.
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - Selling Home
PropertyPal - Covid-19

COVID-19

Vulnerable people, showing symptoms or testing positive
If you or any member of your household are classed as vulnerable or are shielding you should ensure you are aware of the medical guidelines. You should postpone or delay any moving plans until you have received medical advice on whether you’re safe to do so.  You should also disclose your situation to any other parties involved in the moving process. If you are showing symptoms, self-isolating or have tested positive for Covid-19, you should not leave home to go to viewings.

Before and during the viewing

  • The estate agent will compile a list of viewing appointments for people to come see your home. The agent should give you notice in advance so you can vacate the property. If you can’t vacate, talk to your estate agent about how you can safely maintain a 2 metre distance at all times.
  • The estate agent may require you to assist with creating a ‘Virtual Viewing’ (eg a video walkthrough) of your property to minimise the number of physical visitors.
  • Deep clean your property. Pay specific attention to surfaces that are likely to be touched. Open all internal doors and open windows for ventilation. If the viewing is facilitated by an estate agent, they may do this for you.
  • Provide handwashing facilities; soap, hand sanitiser and paper towels for the visitors. Visitors will be told not to touch any surfaces and should bring their own gloves and sanitiser but it is still important that you make hand washing available, if it is needed.
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - Before And During Viewing
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - After Viewing

After the viewing

  • Once the viewing is complete, the estate agent may want to provide you with feedback. When doing this, maintain a social distance of 2m or try to carry out further discussions over the phone or via email.
  • After every viewing, you should clean down all surfaces and wash your hands.
  • If, at any point, you are particularly worried about the risk of infection, then speak to the professionals involved as they may be able to put in place extra measures.
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - After Viewing

Rental Properties

Letting agents, landlords and tenants should also consider the Department’s general guidance for the private rented sector during the Covid-19 pandemic, available at https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/publications/covid-19-Guidance-private-rented-sector-landlords-and-tenants The Private Tenancies (Coronavirus Modifications) Act (Northern Ireland) 2020 came into law on 5th May 2020. The effect of this new legislation is to temporarily extend the amount of notice private rented landlords must give when ending a tenancy. Landlords will therefore now need to give all tenants 12 weeks’ notice before ending a tenancy.
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - Rental Properties
PropertyPal - Covid-19

COVID-19

Vulnerable people, showing symptoms or testing positive
If you or any member of your household are classed as vulnerable or are shielding you should ensure you are aware of the medical guidelines. You should postpone or delay any moving plans until you have received medical advice on whether you’re safe to do so.  You should also disclose your situation to any other parties involved in the moving process. If you are showing symptoms, self-isolating or have tested positive for Covid-19, you should not leave home to go to viewings.

Before and during the viewing

  • Landlords should consult with existing tenants and come to an agreement around arrangements for viewings during a period of tenancy. They should not attempt to encourage or force existing tenants into facilitating viewings.
  • It is recommended that viewings are only appropriate in a rented property that is occupied where the tenant has served notice and confirmed that they are able to move.
  • The onus is on the letting agent/landlord to ensure all internal doors are open and handwashing facilities are provided for visitors to the property.
  • The onus is on the letting agent/landlord to ensure the property is cleaned well before and after any visits.
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - Before And During Viewing

I’m An Estate Agent/Developer

Estate agents and developers can open for business but must follow best practice government guidelines on safer working.  You should inform your staff and clients on your procedures going forward and should adhere to the following:
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - Estate Agent
PropertyPal - Covid-19

COVID-19

Vulnerable people, showing symptoms or testing positive
If you or any member of your household are classed as vulnerable or are shielding you should ensure you are aware of the medical guidelines. You should postpone or delay any moving plans until you have received medical advice on whether you’re safe to do so.  You should also disclose your situation to any other parties involved in the moving process. If you are showing symptoms, self-isolating or have tested positive for Covid-19, you should not leave home to go to viewings.

Before Viewings

  • Agents should ask whether any party is showing symptoms or has been asked to self-isolate before going ahead with any viewing, or visits to offices.
  • Agents should operate using an appointment system for visits to their offices and when conducting viewings.
  • Agents should not carry out any open house viewings.
  • Agents should strongly encourage clients to view properties virtually in the first instance and then only physically inspect properties which they have a strong interest in.
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - Before Viewings
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - During Viewing

During Viewings

  • Agents can accompany physical viewings and seek to maintain a minimum of 2 metres distance from others wherever possible. Where social distancing is not possible and the visit is within an enclosed space, they should consider wearing a face covering in line with government guidance.
  • Where they do not accompany the visit, they should make sure that both buyers and sellers clearly understand how the viewing should be conducted safely.
  • Agents should not drive clients to appointments.
  • Agents, or the homeowner, should ensure all internal doors are opened and surfaces have been wiped down before visitors enter. Visitors should not touch any surfaces but hand washing facilities should be provided.
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - During Viewing

During The Handover

  • Agents should do what they can to promote flexibility when arranging move dates, for example advising clients to ensure contracts have explicit terms to manage the timing risks presented by coronavirus.
  • Agents should work with their clients and other agents to broker a new date to move where sales are due to complete and one of the parties falls ill with coronavirus or has to self-isolate.
  • If the agent is responsible for handing over any keys or documentation, all items should be cleaned beforehand.
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - Handover
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - Letting Agents

Letting agents

  • If possible, necessary repairs should be conducted in the period between a property being vacated and a new tenant moving in. If this is not possible and visits are needed to an occupied property, this should be done by appointment with measures put in place to ensure physical contact is minimised, for example with residents staying in another room during the visit.
  • Landlords should make every effort to abide by gas and electrical safety requirements, which continue to be of great importance for tenants’ safety. This may be more difficult due to restrictions associated with the coronavirus outbreak, for example where a tenant has coronavirus symptoms, is self-isolating or shielding
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - Letting Agents

Moving House Advice

If you are moving house during this time, you will have to follow guidelines and best practice to ensure the safety of yourself and everyone involved in the process. All parties (estate agents, vendors, purchasers, landlords and tenants) should allow for greater flexibility at this time in terms of timing and dates.
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - Moving House Advice
PropertyPal - Covid-19

COVID-19

Vulnerable people, showing symptoms or testing positive
If you or any member of your household are classed as vulnerable or are shielding you should ensure you are aware of the medical guidelines. You should postpone or delay any moving plans until you have received medical advice on whether you’re safe to do so.  You should also disclose your situation to any other parties involved in the moving process. If you are showing symptoms, self-isolating or have tested positive for Covid-19, you should not leave home to go to viewings.

Preparing To Move

  • Anyone involved in any aspect of the home moving process should practice social distancing in line with public health advice.
  • When moving between properties, you and those in your household should try to do as much of the packing yourself as you can. If you are using a removal firm, call them beforehand, as they may have their own guidance and can advise you on how to pack items to make their process easier.
  • Where possible, you should clean your belongings, with standard domestic cleaning products before they are handled by others, including removal firms.
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - Preparing To Move
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - Removal Firms

When Using Removal Firms

  • Removal firms are able to operate, although they may need to adjust usual procedures in order to ensure moves happen as safely as possible. We encourage you to contact removal firms as early as possible in advance of your move.
  • Whilst the removers are in your home, you should ensure any internal doors are open and seek to minimise your contact with the crew, maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres where possible.
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - Removal Firms

During The Move

  • All parties should wash their hands and avoid touching surfaces where possible to reduce the risk of transmitting the coronavirus.
  • You should not provide refreshments but you should ensure they have access to hand washing facilities, using separate towels or paper towels if possible, which should be washed or disposed of safely afterwards.
  • If, at any point, you are particularly worried about the risk of infection, then speak to the professionals involved, your landlord, estate agent or removers as they may be able to put in place extra measures
  • For more information please visit the government website
PropertyPal - Coronavirus - During The Move