Can you still move house during lock down?

26/3/2020 9:24 PM

The Government have today (26th March 2020) issued formal guidance regarding property sales and home moves. I've tried to summarise the guidance below for you.

Buying and Selling Homes during this stay-at-home period

The Government are urging all parties involved to adapt their current processes and be flexible. They emphasise that there is no need to pull out of transactions, but reinforce that we all need to remain at home at all times. Prioritising the health of the public must be everyones priority.

Where the property being moved to is vacant then you can continue with the transaction, but must take extra care and follow social distancing guidelines. For properties that are occupied, the Government are urging people to agree a different date for a time where restrictions will no longer be in place.

In the new emergency enforcement powers that the police have been given to respond to coronavirus, there is an exemption for critical home moves, in the event that a new date is unable to be agreed.

Parties will need to alter common practice, they have sought to ease this process for all involved by:

  1. Issuing this guidance, developed with Public Health England, to home buyers and those involved in the selling and moving process;
  2. Agreeing with banks that mortgage offers should be extended where delay to completions takes place in order to prioritise safety; and,
  3. Working with Conveyancers to develop a standard legal process for moving completion dates.

Advice to the public

What does this mean for my property move which is scheduled whilst the stay-at-home measures to fight coronavirus (COIVD-19) apply?
  • Home buyers and renters should, where possible, delay moving to a new house while measures are in place to fight coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Our advice is that if you have already exchanged contracts and the property is currently occupied then all parties should work together to agree a delay or another way to resolve this matter.
  • If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on staying away from others to minimise the spread of the virus.
  • In line with Government’s advice, anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, should follow medical advice which will mean not moving house for the time being, if at all possible. All parties should prioritise agreeing amicable arrangements to change move dates for individuals in this group, or where someone in a chain is in this group.

If your home is not yet on the market

According to the new guideance no estate agent should agree to visit and value your property. If they do, they are likely to be in breach of the lock-down measures introduced by the Government. Many agents are offering remote consultations, and we are able to offer video meetings to discuss your needs and provide estimated valuations. You can book this here.

Viewings

As above, viewings should not take place. If your agent is continuing to conduct viewings you should challenge their decision and not permit them to go ahead.

There should not be any visitors into your home, and you should therefore not let people visit your property for viewings. Your agent may be able to conduct virtual viewings and you could speak to them about this possibility.

Accepting offers

It's perfectlyp possible to accept offers on your property, but remember that you should not allow visitors to your home. It's worth bearing in mind that the process will likely take longer than normal to complete.

Exchanging Contracts

According to the Government guidance, if the property you are buying is empty then you can continue with the sale. However, if the property you are purchasing is occupied you should work with all parties involved to agree an alternative moving date. Once you exchange contracts you are legally bound to move and could be found in breach of contract if you are unable to complete.

You can read the full guidance here.

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