Locked out during the Coronavirus Crisis
1st April, 2020
Handling your residential property transaction during the Coronavirus Lockdown
The UK Government has recently published guidance in conjunction with Public Health England to assist buyers and sellers of private residential properties during the current Coronavirus pandemic.
The purpose of the guidance is to alleviate the fears of home movers to enable them to continue with sales and purchases with as little disruption as possible, while adhering to Government’s measures in relation to social distancing and self-isolation.
If contracts have been exchanged prior to the lockdown measures being put in place then the buyer’s and the seller’s solicitors should collaborate to delay completion or find another way to resolve the matter. This will depend on the individual circumstances of the transaction and sellers and buyers should contact their respective solicitors or conveyancers to discuss the best way forward.
For example, if the property is vacant then completion can take place provided that you follow the Government’s guidance on removals and take the appropriate precautions.
Exchange of Contracts
Once exchange of contracts has taken place you are legally bound to complete the agreement on the completion date specified in the contract regardless of any outside factors.
If the property being purchased is vacant then similar rules as noted above apply and the transaction can proceed.
However, if the property is currently occupied then it is recommended that exchange of contracts be delayed until such time as the stay-at-home measures have been lifted or relaxed. If this is not an option, then the guidance recommends that contracts should not be exchanged without provision being made to cover any risk associated with the Coronavirus. This will depend again on the individual circumstances and sellers and buyers should contact their respective solicitors or conveyancers to discuss the best way forward.
Prior to Exchange of Contracts
If you are looking to begin the process of selling your property, you may encounter difficulties during the present lockdown.
Sellers can be contacting prospective estate agents who will be able to advise them on the local property market but normal marketing practices, such as viewings, will not be possible. Sellers can use the time to contact prospective solicitors and/or conveyancers to establish what costs and disbursements may be payable and can gather all information that they hold in relation to the property in anticipation of a sale being agreed.
In the event that an acceptable offer is received, the transaction can proceed as normal but it should be borne in mind that the process will take longer than usual.
Guidance has been issued to estate agents, surveyors and removal companies advising them of the processes that they should be following during this unprecedented time.
Sellers and Buyers concerned about their property transaction should contact their solicitor/conveyancer as to how their matter should proceed.
If you require any further information, please contact Laura Gandy at [email protected]
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