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Latest restrictions leave housing market open

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New, stricter, COVID-induced restrictions continue to by-pass the housing market.

It will remain open in a four ‘tiers’ now in operation in England, the Government confirmed this week.

‘This means that people looking to move home will be able to both continue with planned moves and view new properties to move into in the future’, said revised Government advice on home moving during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

‘Estate and lettings agents, removers, valuers and people in sales and lettings offices and show homes will be able to continue working’.

However, it is important that everyone knows local restriction and how to stay alert to stay safe, said the guidance.

‘We encourage all parties involved to be as flexible as possible and to 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. It may become necessary to pause all home moves locally or nationally for a short period of time to manage the spread of coronavirus. We will let you know if this needs to happen.

‘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 to manage these risks. You should not expect to immediately be able to move into any home where people have COVID-19 or are self-isolating.

‘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’.

  • Also updated last week was guidance to landlords and tenants on Understanding the possession action process.

    In England, ‘notice periods given to tenants from 29 August 2020 to at least 31 March 2021 must be at least 6 months for most grounds (including Section 21 notices). This applies in all local tiers’, the guidance reminds landlords. ‘There are certain cases where a shorter notice period may be provided. These include those in relation to anti-social behaviour (including rioting), false statement and where a tenant has accrued rent arrears to the value of at least 6 months’ rent’.
    In Wales, ‘notice periods given on or after 24 July 2020 to at least 31 March 2021 must be at least 6 months, other than for grounds relating to anti-social behaviour’.

    If a tenant does not leave by the date specified in the notice, landlords can apply to the court for a Possession Order. And if a Possession Order is granted, the next step is to apply to the court for a Warrant of Possession and have this enforced by a bailiff.

    However, landlords are reminded, ‘the Government has changed the law in England to ensure bailiffs do not enforce evictions until 11 January 2021. The Welsh Government has done likewise in Wales. This means that no eviction notices are to be served in any tier in England or anywhere in Wales until 11 January at the earliest and, given that a minimum of 14 days’ notice is required, no evictions are expected to be enforced until 25 January 2021 at the earliest’.

  • HM Land Registry completed more than 1.7m applications to change or query the Land Register in November. The figure was 51k down on October and 62k down on the same month year.

    The South East topped the table of regional applications with 409k, slightly down on October, with Greater London next on 315k application, also slightly down on October.