Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has confirmed that current restrictions on house moves will be relaxed from Monday 15 June, to allow the re-opening of the housing market in a safe way.
Activity which will be permitted includes house viewings, sales, lettings (social and private), home moves and remortgages.
Previously the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) Regulations NI 2020 only permitted house moves and associated activity in very limited circumstances. The Health Minister has confirmed these restrictions will be lifted.
The step will be supported by extensive guidance issued by the Department for Communities.
Minister Hargey said: “This is a significant step and news that I know will be welcomed by many. There are many people living in unsuitable accommodation who will be relieved to be able to move to more suitable housing. Families in temporary accommodation will now be able to move into the social homes which are waiting for them and people in unsuitable accommodation can now start the process of looking for a new home.
“This does not represent a return to normality. 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. Specific guidance has been developed with statutory, voluntary and community sector and industry stakeholders to set out how the ‘new’ process will work.”
The move follows extensive consultation by the Department for Communities with stakeholders from across the housing sector.
Minister Hargey continued: “I am very aware the impact that the restriction on house moves has had on many households and those who work in the sector. I am glad to be in a position to reopen the housing market, given the progress in reducing the spread of coronavirus here over the last few months.”