RICS’ role in safely reopening the housing market in the UK

These past few months have been unprecedented and challenging for people, businesses, and society as a whole – the impact of Covid-19 is yet to be fully unveiled, with all of us affected in one way or another – and RICS has had a role in safely reopening the Housing market.

The housing market is dealing with major uncertainties as the current health, economic and social crisis plays out. The sector has a significant role to play in rebooting the economy as well as enabling people to secure a home that meets their needs. RICS professionals play a critical role within this, especially in getting the housing sector moving while protecting consumers as the highest priority.

RICS advocacy and support for professionals and the market

In the immediate days after the lockdown was announced, RICS set up a range of new ways to rapidly respond to market developments and Government policy announcements.

We consulted with our members and industry experts across the UK to identify solutions to arising issues and to offer support to professionals.   We then engaged  regularly with MHCLG and devolved administrations to seek clarity, offer our sector expertise, and share our insight. As restrictions started to relax across the UK, RICS continued collaborating and contributing to government guidance to prepare UK businesses and professionals for carrying out safe inspections in people’s homes and places of work.  In many instances, Government guidance directly cross references RICS sector guidance.

In tandem, we contributed significantly to industry groups to start examining options for a safe reopening of the housing sector.

Our contribution to guidance and our professionals upholding the highest standards, will ensure that the market operates safely and securely for all those involved, and that it operates very much within a practical, and common-sense approach.

While some patience will be required by all as the industry operates within these safe guidelines, we very much hope to be helping people into their new homes as the housing sector is rebooted post pandemic.

We are delighted to have further strengthened our relationship with government representatives and look forward to collectively setting the foundations for a strong, vibrant sector in the ‘ new normal’.

Practical Guidance to support the reopening of the UK’s housing market

As restrictions started to relax, RICS led a collaborative effort to develop practical guidance for professionals and consumers operating in the residential sector, to ensure the health and wellbeing of all parties when professionals need to enter private residential properties.  This concluded in a pan-industry guide to re-opening the housing market which sets out in detail how home moves can take place while still fully complying with social distancing measures and Public Health Guidance, enabling people to move safely.

This guidance was the first in a series published and as well as leading efforts to develop the cross industry practical guidance, RICS published guidance for RICS residential professionals operating in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  This set out recommendations on carrying our physical inspections for residential valuations and condition-based surveys during the pandemic.

All RICS guidance builds on that provided by government and public health, going into specific detail on contact points.  This will support and protect both the professionals who play a critical role in getting the housing sector moving, and consumers.  The contents of our industry guides were shared widely with Government, industry regulators and Public Health authorities.

Key highlights and RICS guidance from across the UK:

1. England

Changes to policy came into effect on 13 May 2020 in England, when Health Protection Regulations were amended to allow home moving, and to allow people to work in other people’s homes.

RICS guidance for physical inspections in England

2. Northern Ireland

From 15 June 2020, home moves are permitted in Northern Ireland. People, organisations and businesses involved in home moving could therefore deliver key services.

RICS guidance for physical inspections in Northern Ireland

3. Wales

From 22 June 2020, home moves in unoccupied properties can now take place. Surveyors are permitted to visit domestic properties to carry out physical inspections.

4. Scotland

Effective from 29 June 2020, all home moves are permitted in Scotland and people , organisations and businesses involved in home moving can also deliver services.

RICS guidance for physical inspections in Scotland

Looking ahead, RICS will continue supporting the industry and our professionals across the UK to create confidence amongst consumers, and others involved in the housing market, that inspections can be carried out safely and that the sector can operate for the benefit of consumers, the market and the wider economy.


Written by Ana Bajri, Associate Director, Professional Standards, RICS


Kindly shared by Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)