Scotland’s lockdown is easing – what does it mean for the property sector?

29/05/2020 09:43:54

Today is the long awaited first day of the lockdown restrictions being relaxed in Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon confirmed yesterday that, from today, phase 1 of the Scottish Government’s plan to ease coronavirus restrictions has begun.

We can now meet with family and friends from one other household at a time, as long as we are outdoors and keep to social distancing guidelines. We can spend as much time as we like outside, picnic, sunbathe and sit in parks and other public spaces.  

It was also good news for sports fans as non-contact outdoor sports such as golf, tennis, fishing and bowls can get underway.

The total number of people meeting up should be a maximum of eight, as well as being from only two households.  

Garden centres have been given the go-ahead to reopen along with drive-through food and drink outlets and construction firms can begin site preparation.

With yesterday’s announcement seemingly focusing on outdoor activities, what does this mean for the property sector? In short, not much. At least for now.

Following the First Ministers announcement, supplementary guidance on moving home was released.

This guidance outlines how the first two phases of Scottish Government's route map out of the COVID-19 crisis apply to the housing market and home moves.

PHASE 1

During Phase 1, the guidance has not changed and previous restrictions remain in place. This means you should still postpone moving to a new home until a further date, likely to be in Phase 2, unless the move is deemed essential.

No home visits should take place take place by any other person or business in relation to anything connected with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of residential property.  Nor should members of the public leave their home to progress any aspect of the purchase, sale, letting or rental of residential property.

What is now allowed in Phase 1 is for workplaces to undertake preparatory work on physical distancing and hygiene measures.  So, organisations and businesses, such as Scottish Property Centre, are permitted to prepare their staff and their premises for the relaxation of restriction on housing moves (phase 2). 

This might be by, for example:

  • undertaking travel to their premises to check for readiness;
  • making changes to implement their safe operating procedures, such as putting up notices and protective screens, marking distances on the floor; and
  • briefing staff on safe operating procedures, virtually where at all possible to do so.

PHASE 2

During phase 2, members of the public will be allowed to leave their homes in order to undertake certain activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property which are expected to include:

  • visiting estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes;
  • viewing residential properties to look for a property to buy or rent;
  • preparing a residential property to move in;
  • moving home; or
  • visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property.

This will allow people working for relevant organisations and businesses, such as Scottish Property Centre, to travel to work where necessary in order to undertake these activities in a safe manner.

A key change is that a home move will no longer have to be reasonably necessary; home moves will be permitted.  Everyone should still comply with the physical distancing and health guidelines.

Although this is very encouraging, we do not have a specific date for the start of Phase 2. It is anticipated this will be in-line with the 3-weekly review currently in place. In order to progress to Phase 2, the Scottish Government will need to have seen evidence that the virus remains suppressed.

The Scottish Government will also issue revised guidance to replace Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on moving home before phase 2 begins.

The current guidance, Coronavirus (COVID-19): supplementary guidance on moving home, can be read in full here - https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-moving-home-supplementary/pages/introduction/

Whenever Phase 2 begins, at Scottish Property Centre we will be ready to go thoughtfully and steadily because we’ve been preparing for this moment for weeks.

We have Personal Protective Equipment, we have stocked up on sanitisers, social distancing signs and prepared our Be Clean Be Safe protocols and policies.

We look forward to start serving our clients safely, sensibly, and successfully.

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