Covid update – Scotland goes into a full lockdown, what do you need to know?
Tue 05 Jan 2021
Since midnight on Monday January 5, and until the end of January, Scotland will be in full lockdown to help prevent the coronavirus pandemic from spiralling out of control, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
In an emergency statement to Holyrood, Sturgeon said that all Scotland’s schools would remain closed for the whole of January, shifting to online learning, because of the risks posed by the new variant.
The Scottish Government’s cabinet agreed that the new ‘stay at home rules’ – closely mirroring the very strict controls imposed last March, during the first lockdown – are legally enforced and greatly restrict who is able to travel.
Although Scotland has not witnessed the rapid escalation in the number of Covid patients in hospital seen in parts of England in recent weeks, the number of positive cases has recently risen to a new record high every day.
With the latest data delayed because of public sector holidays, she said a full update would not be available until Tuesday. However, in the week to 30 December, the seven-day incidence of cases per 100,000 people increased by 65%, from 136 to 225.
Mainland Scotland was already under the toughest tier of Scotland’s alert system, level 4, before the new lockdown was announced, but its island groups, the Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney, remain at level 3 for now, Sturgeon added.
What happens to the property market?
Under the new stay-at-home guidance issued by the Scottish Government, it’s made clear that people can still go out if they have a reasonable excuse to do so.
This includes for activities in connection with moving home (including viewing a property), or for activities in connection with the maintenance, purchase, sale, letting, or rental of residential property ‘that the person owns or is otherwise responsible for’.
However, the guidance warns that travelling for the purposes of undertaking essential work on a ‘property other than your main residence’ should not be used as a pretext for a holiday. People should not stay longer than for the length of time required to undertake the necessary work.
Can tradespeople still visit?
It is still possible for landlords, or letting agents on their behalf, to arrange for tradespeople to carry out home repairs, vital maintenance or other work in your rental home.
But they should only go into a house to conduct or deliver essential work or services. For example:
- to carry out utility (electricity, gas, water, telephone, broadband) safety checks, repairs, maintenance and installations
- to carry out repairs and maintenance that would otherwise threaten the household’s health and safety
- to deliver goods or shopping, where essential
- to deliver, install or repair key household furniture and appliances such as washing machines, fridges and cookers
- to support a home move, for example furniture removal
When carrying out essential work in someone’s house, tradespeople should adhere to safety protocols at all times, including staying two metres apart from the people who live there, wearing a face mask/covering and following good hand and respiratory hygiene.
What should happen on a viewing?
The same rules that have been in place since the market reopened still apply now – and are arguably even more important with the rise in cases and the new strain.
This includes people on a viewing keeping a physical distance of at least two metres from other people wherever possible, washing hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and warm water, and avoiding the touching of faces. Surfaces should also be cleaned and disinfected regularly, good ventilation should be a key priority, and remote viewings should be carried out where possible, with physical viewings only where there is no other alternative.
Viewings should not be conducted in properties where tenants are showing symptoms or self-isolating. Meanwhile, if tenants are at high clinical risk from Covid-19, they should not be forced to allow viewings to take place in the property.
What else do landlords need to bear in mind?
Landlords and agents must give tenants appropriate notice before visiting the property and should not enter the property without the tenant’s consent, except in an emergency.
What’s more, any visits to a property must be made in accordance with the Scottish Government guidelines on physical distancing, with visits to properties in areas at protection level 4 – and now lockdown - delayed where possible.
If possible, repairs, gas and electrical safety checks and energy performance assessments should be conducted in the period between a property being vacated and a new tenant moving in. If this is not feasible, and visits to an occupied property are required, this should be done by appointment with measures put in place to ensure physical contact is minimised. As an example, tenants could stay in another room during the visit.
In situations where there is no alternative, landlord staff and agents can accompany landlords and prospective tenants on in-person viewings, but should seek to minimise contact with prospective tenants and home occupiers at all times, following government guidelines on physical distancing and the use of face coverings.
Where an unaccompanied viewing is being carried out, agents and landlords should make sure that tenants and prospective tenants clearly understand how the viewing should be conducted safely and in line with public health guidelines.
All parties viewing a property should wash their hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand rub (hand sanitiser) before entering the property, with internal doors opened and surfaces having also been cleaned with standard household cleaning products before they enter.
If any party need to wash their hands in the property, separate towels or paper towels should be used, with landlord or agent responsible for providing the cleaning products and towels.
Additionally, properties should be deep cleaned in the period between the property being vacated and a new tenant moving in.
There is a lot to abide by, and it’s a fast-moving situation with further possible changes, so it’s vital that you partner up with an experienced, reliable letting agent.
Here at Letting Solutions, West Lothian’s first dedicated lettings agency, we are continuing to operate throughout the pandemic.
You can find out more about our current hours of service and our current ways of working here.Please don’t hesitate to contact us, even if you are not a current client. You can ring us on 01506 496006 where our team are waiting to help. Or you can email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org