What are the rules when there’s a worldwide pandemic? You sort of need to make them up from scratch as the last time something like this happened was 100 years ago. A new rulebook, however, can bring confusion as we all try to adapt to different way of life — even if it's only temporary.
That’s certainly true about many of the renters around the country, who are left wondering if they can still rent a property. It’s one thing having to get used to new social distancing measures and stay home every day. It’s another thing entirely having to think about upping sticks and moving home.
But needs must, and some renters don’t have a choice as tenancies expire and can’t be renewed for one reason or the other. If you fall into the “I need to move home during lockdown” crew, what do you do? That’s what we’re here to answer with this guide on whether you can rent a property during lockdown.
The short answer
The good news is that you can still move home during lockdown. But there’s a bit more to it than simply finding a new place and going about the usual process of renting a home.
The longer answer
The game’s changed, even if it’s only temporary. Official advice from the government says you can move, but only if it’s essential. In an ideal world, everyone stays at home until lockdown restrictions begin to ease. But the best scenario isn't always the useful one.
If you can stay at your current address, it’s best to do so and reduce the spread of Covid-19 while helping the NHS. There are also measures in place to protect renters during the current climate. David Cox, chief executive at ARLA Propertymark, the letting agents’ industry regulatory body believes moves should be placed on hold where possible.
He said, “We are asking tenants to stay put for the duration of this period, continue paying rent, and to seek government assistance if they’re struggling with their rent costs.”
If, however, you have no choice but to move home, there are a few guidelines you should follow to ensure a smooth and safe move.
Social distancing means renters can’t physically attend a viewing. But if you need to move, you certainly don’t want to go solely off the property pictures and roll the dice, hoping it lands on a snazzy apartment with all the trimmings.
To help renters, many letting agents have created virtual viewings. This allows you to view somewhere via video link so that you get a better idea of how your potential new home looks. At Movebubble, we’ve introduced our own form of virtual viewings to make the renting process more manageable.
Video walkthroughs are something we were working on before Covid-19 was a thing, but we’ve accelerated to tech to help renters during this time. On a video walkthrough, you can see a “real” representation of the property and watch a real-life person conduct the viewing. As a result, you won’t need to visit the property to see whether or not you’d like to rent it.
Most rental processes take place online now, so this part of renting shouldn’t change too much. You’ll need to go through referencing and credit checks before signing the AST (assured shorthold tenancy), all of which can be done online with tools like e-sign.
The only significant difference is Right to Rent. Before, renters were required to prove they can legally rent in the UK by physically providing their documents. Right to Rent has now been temporarily adjusted, with checks taking place via video calls and renters sending scanned documents digitally.
Agreeing on a rental and going through documentation is just one side of things. The other aspect involves the actuality of moving. Fortunately, it’s still possible to hire moving vans — either with removal people or do-it-yourself options like Zip Van.
It’s important to adhere to all social distancing guidelines during the removal process. This includes anyone who is helping you move home. Many removal companies are busier than usual as they are operating with fewer employees.
The result is less supply, so try and get ahead of things by preparing for your move and booking a van as early as possible. And, where possible, only move with the people in your new household. Though we understand that’s not always possible.
Stay safe and keep it moving (but only if you really need to)
If you need to move home during the lockdown, take comfort in the fact that it’s still possible to do so. After all, you should be able to enjoy moving into your new home, even if the circumstances aren’t ideal. Just make sure that you take all the necessary precautions and stay safe while you’re moving into your new digs.