Know Your Rights on Moves and Viewings

We recently advised you to avoid signing new contracts, and that advice hasn’t changed. However, it has been announced that estate agents and landlords can resume house moves and viewings in England from today, so you might soon be contacted by them about this.

The government has now released information on tenants’ rights under this new phase and our Advice Centre Advisors have added some further guidance for you.

Government Guidance

People should use virtual viewings before visiting properties in person where possible, in order to minimise public health risks. If any member of either the household being viewed, or the household undertaking a viewing is showing symptoms of coronavirus or is self-isolating, then a physical viewing should be delayed. All viewings should take place by appointment and only involve members of a single household.

  • Viewings should be conducted by appointment only and no open house viewings should take place.
  • If your property is being viewed, you should open all the internal doors prior to the viewing, and allow access to handwashing facilities and ideally separate towels/paper towels.
  • As most people choose to do, we encourage that you vacate your property whilst viewings are taking place in order to minimise your contact with those not in your household.
  • When viewing a property, all parties should wash their hands and avoid touching surfaces where possible. Agents will ask you to restrict the number of people who accompany you on a viewing so that social distancing can be practised, and only those in your immediate household should be there.
  • We expect agents to accompany clients on a viewing but follow social distancing rules wherever possible. Where viewings are unaccompanied, agents should make sure viewers and homeowners understand how they should conduct themselves.
  • Once the viewing has taken place, the homeowner should ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned with standard household cleaning products and towels disposed of safely or washed as appropriate.

You can read the full government guidance on home moving during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak here.

Our Advice

  • If your contract is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (most students) no-one can enter your home without your permission unless there’s an emergency, like flooding.
  • All viewings must be by appointment at a time that suits you. e.g. not just before an exam.
  • It is not normal for agents/landlords to use their own keys and let themselves into your rented home. They must knock and wait to be allowed in and leave if there is no answer.
  • You can always reschedule viewings.

You do not have to allow viewings if:

  • You can’t be present for the viewings and you don’t want strangers in your home.
  • You are not yet in your notice period (usually last two months of tenancy).
  • You haven’t decided whether or not you’re renewing your tenancy (and you’re not in your notice period yet).
  • You or someone in your household has coronavirus, is symptomatic, has underlying conditions making them more vulnerable, or is isolating.

If you know that you have to move (check with the Advice Centre if you’re not sure) then you can allow viewings to go ahead, ensuring social distancing and the guidance above is followed.

Legal Advice

If your agent/landlord is pressuring you to have viewings, then we recommend you get legal advice about your rights under your contract and what action you can take.  If you let the landlord/agent know you’re getting legal advice, they will have to wait until you have had your appointment. 

You can get free legal advice from University of London Housing Services by asking them for an appointment. You can also email them (make sure you use your University email) with your query or call 0207 862 8880.

House Moves

Most students should stay put; only people in exceptional circumstances should move. If you believe you have no choice but to move, please contact the Advice Centre so we can guide you and share useful information with you.

Ideally, no-one should be moving into a new student house share at this time. Doing this would bring multiple people from different households together and risk accelerating the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The Advice Centre might be able to help you find alternative options, so ask for help if you need to move.

Further Guidance

If you are moving, then use our Private Housing Leaving Guide to ensure you know what to do before and after leaving and that you get your deposit back.

For further updates regarding the latest guidance, check out our Coronavirus Hub.