Can I move to a different home during lockdown?

13th May 2020

We’ve had a large number of questions from readers asking whether they can move somewhere else during lockdown. Many of these questions detailed very specific circumstances, not all of which are covered in public guidance or legislation. Here, we have gathered the most up-to-date guidance that does exist, with the hope that this will help those who aren’t sure what they are permitted to do.

The exact guidance on lockdown measures depends on where you are in the UK, but for moving home, the guidance is generally consistent across all four countries.

First of all, if you are showing Covid-19 symptoms, or self-isolating, then you’re not supposed to leave your home at all.

For everyone else, in general, you cannot leave your home to stay at another home, for example on a holiday or to visit a second home.

The most up-to-date guidance says: “Leaving your home - the place you live - to stay at another home for a holiday or other purpose is not allowed. This includes visiting second homes.” 

But there are a number of exceptions described by the government. For example, the guidance says that a student is allowed to move permanently to live back at their family home, if they’ve been in halls of residence all of this time. 

There are also exceptions about leaving your home if you need to “escape risk of harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.” This includes escaping domestic violence, or the risk of it.

Children under 18 can also move between their parents’ homes if they live separately.

As we’ve written before, police guidance on the rules in England says it is also reasonable to move to a friend’s house for several days to allow a “cooling-off” following arguments at home.

Moving house if you are buying or renting a new home

On 13 May, the government announced that anyone in England was now allowed to move house (following a sale or letting) as long as they followed new guidance and weren’t self-isolating. This also means property viewing can now take place in person, by appointment. You can read more about the new rules here.

Previously, the government had advised homebuyers and renters to delay doing this, but that they could do so if it was unavoidable.