Housing market in Northern Ireland reopens

The Northern Ireland Executive has confirmed that the housing market would be allowed to reopen allowing activities related to the purchasing and renting of properties to once again take place in the country from the 15th June 2020.

The document released by the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland, ‘Advice on home moving during COVID-19’, provides guidance on how everyone involved in the home move process must adjust their processes to ensure a safe return to market activity.

Northern Ireland’s Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey, explains:

 “The process of finding and moving into a new home will be different.  Everyone involved in the process will have to adapt practices and procedures to ensure that the risk of the spread of coronavirus is reduced as far as possible. This will include doing more of the process online (such as initial virtual viewings), use of appointment systems and strict infection control procedures before, during and after viewings.”

The advice document is split into three parts with a focus on advice for members of the public, industry and social landlords. Energy Assessments are very much part of the home moving process and as such, the new legislation has opened the doors for a return to work for Energy Assessors/Surveyors operating in Northern Ireland

What does this mean for Energy Assessors?

Surveyors and Energy Assessors are now free to visit properties to carry out surveys/valuations for any property transaction (sale, purchase, letting or renting).

Process to follow

The new advice stipulates that Energy Assessor/Surveyors should undertake the following precautionary measures when assessing/surveying a property:

  • Contact the owners of the property prior to the assessment/survey to make sure they understand which areas will be surveyed and ensure that all doors and access panels are open and surfaces have been cleaned with standard household cleaning products in line with public health advice. 
  • If it is not appropriate for occupiers to vacate the property, measures should be put in place to ensure physical contact is minimised during the assessment/survey and social distancing is adhered to. 
  • No work should be carried out by a person who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild or by anyone who has been asked to self-isolate 
  • Hands should be washed upon entry tothe property, using separate towels or paper towels which need to be washed or disposed of safely after use. 
  • Energy Assessors/Surveyors should be clear in any reports about areas which they were unable to inspect due to public health limitations

The information provided above is also be available on Elmhurst’s COVID-19 FAQs.

Stuart Fairlie, Technical and Operations Director at Elmhurst Energy, comments: “England led the way in reopening their housing market almost 4 weeks ago, which has resulted in many Energy Assessors returning to work. The other nations have remained, understandably, more cautious with regards to COVID-19 and the relaxation of social and economic restrictions. That being said, we are pleased to see that Northern Ireland has chosen to reopen its housing market, which will be some positive news for Energy Assessors and other professionals involved in the home moving process eager to get back to normality. Elmhurst remains confident that following this update from Northern Ireland, it will not be much longer until we see similar guidance released in Scotland and Wales”.

Article published: 17/06/2020

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