Guidance on viewings and moving home for shared ownership properties

Great news for anybody looking to move into their dream home! The Government has announced an update to the coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations to make it possible for people to safely move during the pandemic.

The new guidance provides important public health information for buyers, sellers, estate agents and new build developers to ensure that all activities around moving and viewings can happen safely.

Socially distanced viewings of properties once approved to reserve

We know you will be keen to view your future home once receiving approval to reserve, so under the new government guidelines, a procedure has been introduced to allow you to safely view properties we have available for shared ownership once you are approved to reserve.

This means that once your application has been processed, we confirm the share you can purchase and that a mortgage would be available to you, we will arrange a viewing following social distancing measures. This will limit the number of people entering the properties to make it safer for everyone. You are under no obligation to purchase the property at this stage.

When arranging the viewing, you will be advised about the social distancing measures we’ll need you to follow. You won’t be allowed to touch anything inside the property and only two people should come to the viewing; we ask you don’t bring small children along wherever possible. You will need to bring your own hand sanitiser and wear a face covering inside the property if possible.

When you arrive for the viewing, please wait outside until you are advised it is safe to enter. We will arrive at the property 15 minutes prior to the viewing time to get things ready. We will open all kitchen unit doors, store cupboard doors, internal and external doors and then leave the property and wait outside, leaving the front door open for you to go in.

We will stand outside at a safe distance from you and ask the following:

  1. Use hand sanitiser before you enter the property and look around, but you must not touch anything
  2. When you’re all done viewing the property, please come back outside and ask any questions you may have
  3. As an extra precaution, we advise you wash and sanitise your hands again when you get home.

Once you have left, we will sanitise our hands and enter the property to close all the doors and make the property secure.

The process for reserving the property will be explained at the viewing and all documentation will be completed by email after the viewing. The reservation fee will be taken by card payment over the phone.

The mortgage lender will need to carry out a survey of the property, in some cases this can be done without a physical inspection. Where the surveyor does need to visit the property, we will provide access using the same social distancing measures as used for a viewing.

Once the sale has been agreed and you have your offer of mortgage in place, you might want to visit your new home again to measure up where you’ll put your couch. We are happy to schedule this for you, with the same social distancing and hygiene measures applied from your first viewing.

You may also want to send in tradespeople to carry out inspections. Where possible these should be scheduled with us and only one person should visit the property at a time. Where a tradesperson is visiting the property, they should also maintain social distancing measures and follow the same instructions as for viewings.

A mutually convenient day for legal completion will be arranged between you, Beyond Housing and the solicitors. We will do whatever we can to ensure contracts take account of the risks posed by coronavirus, including building in flexibility in case dates need to change.

Socially distanced handover of properties at legal completion

It’s all yours! Once legal completion has taken place, we will arrange a mutually convenient time with you to meet at your new home.

When we arrive, we’ll sanitise our hands before unlocking the door and will record the gas, electric and water meter readings and send these back to you by email. The keys will be disinfected and placed on the kitchen worktop for you. We’ll leave the property, wiping any handles that have been touched and leave the door open. Outside, at a safe 2m distance, we’ll advise you:

  1. The handover information pack is in the kitchen for you, please read the Beyond Housing booklet which contains the contact numbers you need and general information on your home
  2. The instructions for your heating system are in this folder
  3. Our rent team will call you to set up the direct debit for your rent, saving the need for signing forms
  4. Our 24 hour service centre is open for you to call if you find any defects that you need to report. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are responding to critical emergencies only at the moment – any other non-urgent defects will be sorted once everything is up and running again.
  5. You can now enter your new home!

Moving home

One of the simplest steps you can take when moving home is to wash your hands frequently and wherever possible stay at least 2 metres apart from people who are not members of your household. You should also wear face coverings in instances where social distancing is more difficult.

If these times have taught us anything, it’s to be flexible! Be prepared to postpone moves, if for example someone becomes ill during the moving process and has to self-isolate. There’s also a chance we’ll need to pause all home moves again for a short period of time to manage the spread of the virus – but we’ll let you know if this happens.

Moving home unfortunately won’t be possible if you pose a direct risk of transmitting coronavirus. People who have coronavirus symptoms, or are self-isolating with a family member who does, should not leave their home to either move home, or undertake property viewings.

We will help you postpone your move until all members of your household have come to the end of their self-isolation period. We will look at each individual case and agree amicable arrangements to change move dates for you, including where someone in your chain is self-isolating or has tested positive for coronavirus.