COVID-19 pandemic – Moving Home Government restrictions
The current requirements by the Government to stay at home and maintain a distance from others will have an impact on property transactions and the Government has issued guidance on moving home during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Public health is obviously a priority and homebuyers and renters should, where possible, delay moving to a new house while the self-isolation and social distancing measures are in place.
If you have already exchanged contracts:-
- Where the property you are moving to is vacant, you can proceed with the transaction. However, this is on the basis that you can move into the vacant property and still adhere to the Government’s guidelines in respect of social distancing.
- Where the property is occupied, you should delay moving, if possible, whilst the Government’s restrictions are in place. In this scenario, parties are being encouraged to make alternative amicable arrangements with each other so that completion can take place at a later date, without any party incurring a penalty for late completion as the completion has been delayed through no fault of any party but, due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
- If you are unable to delay moving, you may proceed as long as you are following the advice from the Government in relation to social distancing and no one in the chain is suffering from suspected COVID-19 symptoms, or self isolating with someone who has suspected COVID-19 symptoms.
If you have not yet exchanged contracts, the Government’s advice and our advice is to delay proceeding with an exchange while the emergency measures are in place. If you are in the early stages of a sale/purchase, we can still proceed with the transaction up to the point of exchange so that we are ready to exchange contracts as soon as possible once the restrictions are lifted.
If you do not wish to delay an exchange of contracts, then it may be possible to insert a clause in the contract for a delayed completion due to COVID-19 outbreak restrictions and/or in the interests of public health. If you proceed to exchange of contracts without any such clause, then you could end up liable for late completion costs for your chain if you failed to complete on the agreed completion date (even if the delay is through no fault of your own). Any such clause will need to be agreed by all parties in a chain prior to an exchange of contracts taking place.
Nicola Cawthorne is a property executive in the property team at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.