Howells are pleased to confirm that the Government has now produced guidance on the impact of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak on the Conveyancing market and process. The full text of the guidance from the Government can be found here.
We appreciate that it can be a minefield trying to get your head around such guidance at this time, so we have summarised the guidance as follows:
– All parties involved in home moving are urged to adapt and be flexible to alter their usual processes. The Government would prefer if all transactions were delayed, but do not make this an absolute requirement, stating that parties ‘should, where possible, delay’.
– Where the property being moved into is vacant, you are in fact able to continue with this transaction although you should follow the guidance on home removals. Removal companies are urged to take all sensible precautions to ensure the move can happen safely. This includes:
- Removers should follow the latest Government guidance which currently states that work carried out in people’s homes can continue, provided the trades person is well and has no symptoms or Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- It is important to ensure Government guidelines on self-distancing are followed, including maintaining a 2 metre distance from others, and washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available).
- No work should be carried out by a person who has Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, however mild.
– The Police have been provided with new emergency enforcement powers to respond to Coronavirus and those in breach of movement restrictions. There is however an exemption from such enforcement for critical home moves, in the event that a new or delayed date is unable to be agreed by the parties in the chain.
– If any move takes place during the movement restrictions all people must follow advice on social distancing to minimise the spread of the virus.
– UK Finance (the lenders trade association, who represent around 300 firms in the UK providing credit, banking, markets and payment-related services) have confirmed that, to support customers who have already exchanged contracts for house purchases and set dates for completion, all mortgage lenders are working to find ways to enable customers who have exchanged contracts to extend their mortgage offer for up to three months to enable them to move at a later date.
– It is a recommendation, although not an absolute requirement, that if the property being purchased is currently occupied, that all parties should work together to try to delay the exchange of contracts until after the period where stay-at-home measures to fight Coronavirus (COVID-19) are in place. However, the advice of the Government is that where there are moves that have to take place within the period this should trigger explicit contractual provisions to be included to take account of the risks presented by the virus. Such contractual clauses will need to be tailored to client’s particular circumstances and these will be discussed where appropriate in detail.
– Howells, whilst physically closed during the outbreak, continue to provide our service remotely to our clients, be it by telephone, post or e-mail and we continue to support the property purchase and sales process as far as possible. We wish to make all of our clients aware of the difficulties of completing transactions in this period:
- Howells continue to support the sale and purchase of unoccupied properties as far as possible.
- We will make every effort to support clients, who are due to complete on occupied properties in the stay-at-home period, to change this date as recommended by the Government.
- We advise clients who are ready to move not to exchange contracts on an occupied property unless explicit provision for the risks presented by the virus have been incorporated within the contract.
- We will continue to prioritise support to anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus and those they are in a chain with, and we will do all we can to help a new date to be agreed in these circumstances.
Howells will continue to serve our clients through this difficult period. Please contact your caseworker on the direct dial number you have already been provided with or contact:
Sheffield: 0114 249 66 66
Barnsley: 0122 680 51 90
Rotherham: 0170 936 40 00
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