When will the Scottish housing and lettings market reopen?

Face-to-face residential viewings might resume on or after 18th June

Since Friday 29 May 2020, Scotland (including the residential lettings sector) has been in Phase 1 of the Scottish Coronavirus ‘Road Map‘. Although some non-essential businesses have been allowed to reopen (garden centres, drive-through fast food outlets), non-essential Scottish lettings activities have been discouraged. The Phase 1 description includes only the quite vague Preparing for the safe reopening of the housing market. We are still in a period when the Scottish government continues to work with various property industry professional bodies to relax some restrictions

Physical viewings resume

Phase 2 is supposed to start 3 weeks after the previous announcement, i.e. on or after 18 June 2020 – although nothing is set in stone at the moment. It will bring Relaxation of restrictions on housing moves. What does it mean? Coronavirus (COVID-19): supplementary guidance on moving home states that during Phase 2 members of the public will be allowed to:
  • Visit letting agents,
  • View residential properties to rent,
  • Prepare a residential property to move in,
  • Move home,
  • Visit a residential property to carry out any activities required for the rental of that property.

Any house moves (not only the reasonable necessary) will be permitted. All house-hunters and their Edinburgh letting agents will need to comply with the physical distancing and health guidelines. In short, it means that face-to-face viewings of residential properties to let in Edinburgh should resume on or after 18th June, but there will be no more block or group viewings. Letting agents will need to book separate slots for each viewer and make sure that only one potential tenant (or one potential household) views the property at any time. Letting agents and property managers will be allowed to travel to advertise properties to conduct viewings. The detailed rules for Phase 2 need to be introduced to the main coronavirus legislation, which has not been done yet.

Letting agents reopen their offices

 Phase 3 should bring the reopening of non-essential indoor office spaces, which include lettings agencies and property management companies. Physical distancing will need to be complied with. It means that from Phase 3 (which will most likely start on 11 August 2020), Scottish letting agents will be allowed to reopen their branches to walk-ins. Although remote working will remain the default position for those who can work from home, letting agents in Edinburgh (and beyond) will reopen to public.

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