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Coronavirus: What does this mean for house moves?

Individuals, couples and families face worries and stress when it comes to the sale or purchase of a new home. We recognise that the coronavirus crisis has now added uncertainty and disruption to the mix, leaving many of you with questions - whether you have begun the process or are thinking about moving/selling.

On Monday 23 March Boris Johnson announced that he was placing the country into lockdown and that people would be allowed to leave home for the following four reasons: -

  • Shopping for necessities, as infrequently as possible;
  • One form of exercise a day, such as running or cycling, alone or with household members;
  • For medical or care needs, for example to help a vulnerable person; and
  • Travelling to and from work but only if you cannot work from home.

The announcement did not deal specifically with house moves although they clearly do not fall within the four circumstances detailed above.  The government has subsequently issued specific guidance on house moves and a link to the guidance is below.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

The effect of the guidance on the conveyancing process is as follows: -

  • If the property being purchased is empty and the buyer is not currently intending to move into the property so as to maintain the social distancing requirements or the buyers are already residing in the property that they are buying, we can complete the purchase during the lockdown.
  • If the property being purchased is occupied or there is a chain of transactions, we will not be able to complete the transaction during the lockdown and we would advise against exchanging Contracts for a date in the future due to the uncertainty on mortgage offers if people’s financial circumstances change, the risk of mortgage offers expiring and people within the chain becoming ill and / or having to self-isolate.  These transactions will need to wait until the current situation is at an end.
  • If Contracts have already been exchanged, we will be able to complete the transaction subject to everybody within the chain being agreeable to do so and nobody within the chain being ill or having to self-isolate.

We are continuing to monitor government guidance and will continue to work in accordance with such guidelines. We appreciate many of you will have questions. We remain committed to helping you and providing advice. Please contact Emma and the team on 01484 915 000 or email law@schofieldsweeney.co.uk.

About the Author

Emma Gledhill

Director

Emma is a specialist in Property Law.  With a background in Property Litigation and a particular interest…

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