COVID-19 GUIDANCE

While most tenants won’t even be contemplating moving house during lockdown, if you’re in a situation where you have no choice, virtual viewings of properties make it far more possible than you may have realised.

Britain went into lockdown on March 23, and included among the social distancing measures was government advice not to move house if you could possibly avoid it. However, if your tenancy has come to an end, for example, because the landlord agreed a sale before the restrictions were imposed, and that is still going through, there may be no choice.

The good news is that, if you’re in that situation, while it no doubt feels stressful, it may well be far more possible to find and move into your next home, and somewhere you actually like, than you thought at first.

Helping tenants to find a new home with virtual viewings

For now, estate agents across the country have had to close, and viewings of potential new houses and flats in person are pretty much off limits. Instead, agents are adapting by setting up virtual viewings, allowing would-be renters to check out properties wherever they are, typically in the form of a video tour of the house or flat.

Traditionally, of course, renting a property without even setting foot inside it would have been a rarity. But we’re living in exceptional and unprecedented circumstances, which need a radically different approach.

And the quality of modern virtual tours of premises means that such things can be an invaluable tool. Virtual viewings give an extremely accurate picture of what a place is like, and, obviously, avoid unnecessary contact with others and travel.

Rental procedures move online

You’ll already be aware of how everything has moved online, from business meetings to pub quizzes, TV news interviews and even Parliamentary debates.

The same is true of the process of establishing a new tenancy. You can now do everything you need to rent a new home without falling foul of the government’s social distancing advice.

That means you can sign all contracts and deal with all the necessary paperwork over the internet, submitting an electronic signature that will be just as valid as a pen-and-paper version.

It’s also perfectly possible to organise contactless key collection, again doing away with the need to see anyone in person. Then all you have to do is settle into your new home. Additionally, it should be perfectly possible to organise a van hire remotely and just pick up and drop off a removal vehicle remotely if you need one to move.

Cover yourself

We’re all used to booking holidays online without seeing places in advance, so there’s no reason why finding a new rental home should be so dramatically different. Clearly, it’s a bigger commitment than a two-week break, but, even so, if you end up not liking it, it’s still not for ever.

If you’re concerned about the risk of not liking a property once you’ve moved in, ask the agent you can insert a six-month break clause into your tenancy agreement.  This means that if you’re not happy in the property, you will be able to move out after six months, without financial penalty.

We’re here for you

Neil Newstead, the chief executive of Oakfield Estate Agents, the leading independent agent covering Hastings, Bexhill, Eastbourne and surrounding areas said: “Obviously, the current conditions mean we’re all working from home and our offices are closed.

But we understand that, even if they’re a minority, some people will still have to find a home during this period. We’re still working to help anyone in that situation. Indeed, since lockdown a month ago, we’ve agreed more than 50 new lets, and completed more than 40 new tenancies, so we believe our web-based process is working well.  

We’ve added virtual viewings of all our vacant properties as a substitute for the face-to-face appointments we can no longer organise.

“For those who really need to move, modern technology makes it possible without having to stray from government guidelines.”

Check out our current listings of properties in Bexhill, Eastbourne, Hastings and around, aimed at all budgets. We have plenty of choice whether you’re after a flat for one or a three-bedroom family home – and more than two decades’ experience on the industry to draw on.

Equally, many of our agents will have previously visited some of our places listed, so can chat to you on the phone about what they’re like to live in and answer any questions you may have. We also offer plenty of local knowledge if you’re new to the area, and can discuss any ongoing maintenance issues remotely once you’re installed.

Finally, we appreciate that of course in an ideal world you’d see any new home for yourself, and that even a virtual viewing isn’t an absolutely perfect scenario. But, in these unusual circumstances, if you absolutely have to move, it’s certainly the next best thing.

Get in touch with the letting team today and we’ll take it from there.