Coronavirus and moving house: postpone it if you can

Worried about Coronavirus and moving home? This is the latest information on house moving during the pandemic

moving house
(Image credit: Getty)

Moving home during the coronavirus outbreak? The timing couldn't be trickier: moving house is a stressful activity at the best of times, with so many different things to coordinate, from the property search to the exchange of contracts and securing a mortgage (if you are buying), and, of course, the moving day itself.

Given that the UK is currently in lockdown, can you – and should you – move house? The key to understanding how you should proceed lies in the wording of official Government lockdown measures. Under the current rules, you can leave your home to shop for groceries or medicines, to do exercise once a day, to go to work if you are  at all unable to work from home, or for an 'essential' purpose.

Housing minister Robert Jenrick said yesterday on Twitter: 'If you’re socially isolating or being shielded, it’s important to try to delay. Other parties should show pragmatism. If moving is unavoidable because you’re contracted and the parties aren’t able to agree a delay, you must follow advice on social distancing when moving.' (@RobertJenrick)

The HomeOwners Alliance recommends that if you are buying a home and have exchanged contracts, you should complete, and as quickly as you can. Although Boris Johnson has advised people to remain in their current homes if they can, the exchange of contracts legally obliges you to complete the transaction, making your house move essential. Mortgage companies have indicated that they will be flexible to help people delay completion if possible. And if you haven't exchanged contracts, you should try and come to an agreement with all parties to delay.

The same logic currently extends to house moving for renters: if you have signed the contract for your new place and have given notice to your current landlord, your move can be classed as essential – but delay it if you can get all parties to agree. If, on the other hand, you were only looking and haven't signed anything yet, and your current place is flexible, you should delay moving until the restrictions have lifted. 

If you do have to move, you're advised to practise social distancing during the move. And if you're suffering from symptoms of Coronavirus, it's wise to let all involved know to see if a delay until you're better is possible. Where possible, pragmatism and flexibility are key. Currently, police will not intervene in a move.

Removal companies have been advised by the British Association of Removals to only complete moves that are already under way; however, it's up to individual companies to make their own decisions, so speak to your removal company about what they've decided to do about bookings for the next couple of weeks.

Found the perfect home to buy and looking for a mortgage? You now have time to explore the best possible deals – and get an agreement in principle ready. Take a look at online mortgage specialist Habito's comparison tool below to see which deals would work for you.