UK & Europe
On Sunday 10th May Boris Johnson announced the UK's plan for a phased recovery from coronavirus, commencing with a gradual easing of restrictions and the introduction of new measures to help re-build the UK economy. Since then, the government has issued a raft of advice and detailed guidance to support this move. Measures include the immediate lifting or easing of certain restrictions in the residential property sector, which will be much welcomed by housebuilders, developers, landlords, estate
'Re-starting' the housing market
1. Buyers can buy and tenants can rent
Since the end of March, government restrictions have brought most residential property transactions to a standstill. As recently as last week, major housebuilders were casting doubt over new projects as the then-existing restrictions would prevent them from selling new homes off-plan.
The government appears to have listened to industry feedback as new regulations and guidance permit a range of activities designed to re-invigorate the housing market, including
2. Many workers in the property sector can now return to work
Many workers, who play a crucial part in the operation of the residential property sector can now return to work, including:
in all cases, subject to compliance with the Government's new 'Working Safely During Coronavirus' guidance, which require additional measures to be taken by employers such as (where necessary and applicable) risk assessments, social distancing at work, additional cleaning, and PPE.
Specific guidance documents have been issued to cover the measures required for eight different types of workplaces, including:
Businesses (in all sectors) should carefully check the general guidelines, as well as any specific guidance for their sector, to ensure they can comply before allowing business to recommence.
3. Temporary relaxation of planning rules
The Government is seeking to assist housebuilders by introducing a temporary relaxation of planning rules, either by way of amendments to legislation or updates to planning policy. In particular:
These announcements will be welcome news to both those who have been unable to work in the residential property sector during the lockdown, and the buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants who have been unable to transact during that time.
Whilst the new guidance does not in any way guarantee nor signal an immediate return to normality it marks a step in the right direction, and serves as a useful roadmap to help housebuilders, developers, estate agents and conveyancers understand the steps they may take to return to work. Whether the Government succeeds in re-starting the housing market remains to be seen.
It should also be noted that these measures have not been adopted in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
For more information or advice, please get in touch with your usual Clyde & Co contact.
This article was written by Paul Cole and Emma Barkas