Updated Guidance on Moving House During COVID-19
COVID-19 and the Prime Minister’s imposition of lock down restrictions on 23rd March has had an impact on the housing market – with the entire process, from securing a mortgage to arranging removals being affected. However, following various Government announcements since Sunday 10th May, it very much seems as though the housing industry is back up and running again – albeit in a slightly different format to pre-COVID.
Since Wednesday 13th May, estate agents have been able to return to work to facilitate marketing properties and viewings. Although new guidelines are in place suggesting the home owners wait outside during these processes, virtual tours of existing and newly built homes is encouraged where possible and upon key handover, keys must be sanitised. Estate agents are being asked to keep to a 15 minute viewing rule when showing properties (although this won’t be possible on all homes or where surveys need to be carried out or marketing materials prepared).
Surveyors can also enter homes to undertake surveys, removals companies can enter to pack belongings and developers are able to meet with buyers on site to take new reservations. Mortgage offers are being issued and local authorities are issuing search results again – meaning purchases can begin to proceed more quickly.
The construction industry and tradespeople are able to return to work and as many other industries begin to re-open and furloughed workers return to a full salary, many are hopeful a strong housing market will soon return.
If you are already in the process of buying or selling, it is important that you continue to discuss your personal circumstances with your lawyer, developer and estate agent. It is essential that you discuss any delays in open market or new build purchases with your mortgage broker to ensure that, if your anticipated completion date has been pushed back, your mortgage offer will not expire.
Of course, the advice remains that if you are well, you and all others in your household are not experiencing COVID symptoms and you are due to complete your sale/purchase, you must continue to observe the general social distancing requirements i.e. you stay 2 metres apart from people outside of your household and you wash your hands frequently. You should not touch surfaces in homes you are viewing and sellers are encouraged to open all doors, loft hatches, turn on light switches and have hand sanitiser available prior to viewings, valuations and surveys.
The advice for those who are vulnerable or who are shielding is that they should remain at home and avoid ‘unnecessary contacts’ at present.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of our NHS and Emergency Services workers and their dedication to helping others and as such, Herrington Carmichael’s residential open market and new build conveyancing departments are reducing legal fees for these workers by 10%. This also applies to Armed Forces personnel.
You can read the Government’s detailed advice by visiting https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak
The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC), the regulatory body for Licensed Conveyancers has also issued some helpful guidance and this can be viewed by visiting:-
This reflects the law at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought as appropriate in relation to a particular matter.
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We are solicitors in Camberley, Wokingham and London. In 2019, Herrington Carmichael won ‘Property Law Firm of the Year’ at the Thames Valley Business Magazines Property Awards, ‘Best Medium Sized Business’ at the Surrey Heath Business Awards and we were named IR Global’s ‘Member of the Year’. We are ranked as a Leading Firm 2020 by Legal 500 and Alistair McArthur is ranked in Chambers 2020.