Can we move house during the COVID-19 lockdown?


This is a question many people are asking at the moment given the current situation in the UK.

The Government has issued advice and guidance to all parties involved in the conveyancing process, from estate agents to conveyancers to removal companies. The underlying message is clear and that is to delay your move wherever you possibly can while measures to fight coronavirus are in place.

If you have not exchanged contracts then our advice would be to wait until the stay at home period is over and we will continue diligently to progress your sale and/or purchase as far as possible, supporting you and others in your chain.

If you have exchanged contracts then, in normal circumstances, where completion is delayed the party at fault would be liable to pay compensation. People are now being urged to be flexible and approach the process “in a spirit of good faith” and agree to delay completion where possible in order to avoid chains breaking and parties withdrawing from transactions. We will work with you and the other parties in the chain to try and reach a satisfactory outcome for everyone. These are extraordinary times and the Law Society has issued guidance on how to vary contracts which we can follow where necessary.

If the property you are buying is vacant and your move can’t be delayed, then in theory you could still move in and we can deal with your completion in the normal way. The advice to removal firms is to honour their existing commitments where this can be done safely, maintaining a 2-metre distance from others and washing hands often, how this would work in practice however remains to be seen.

If you have exchanged contracts and you are worried that your mortgage offer will expire then please note that banks have been requested to extend mortgage offers where necessary for up to 3 months to allow people who have already exchanged contracts to move at a later date. It should be noted however that some mortgage lenders may pull out of new deals where the loan to value ratio is above a certain level, so first time buyers or people with little equity in their existing properties may find their mortgage offers being withdrawn.

Lenders have also advised us that they will be requiring the longest possible period to release mortgage funds (i.e. 5 full working days) and this should be considered when you are thinking about moving at this time.

If it is vital and possible for you to move, we are recommending that parties agree a simultaneous exchange and completion on the same day (date agreed in advance) to ensure that all parties are in receipt of mortgage funds and removals can take place. Whilst this method is not without risk also, we are hoping that all parties involved (including removal firms) will take this into consideration.

The main consideration throughout this time is that everyone remains safe and well with social distancing being complied with.

Every transaction is unique, and we will work with you and all parties involved to ensure there is as little disruption to your move as possible and to find suitable and workable solutions.

We are equipped to support all our clients who are in the process of moving home and our team of lawyers are here to answer any questions you might have during these uncertain times.

Guidance from the Government and industry is changing on a daily basis and we have therefore decided that it would be in your best interest if we transfer the conduct of your matter to our specialist COVID-19 Conveyancing Support Team based in our office in Haywards Heath until further notice. They are keeping constantly up to date with best practice during these difficult and changing times and can be contacted on 01444 220132 or by emailing simon.bacchus@parfittcresswell.com.

If you have any questions therefore on your transaction or on the advice recently announced by the Government please contact our Conveyancing Support Team using the contact details above who will be pleased to assist you and, if your transaction is progressing, to ensure that you continue to receive the best possible service from us. We understand that this is a difficult time for you but would like to assure you that we are always here to help and support you, your friends and your family to the very best of our ability.

Parfitt Cresswell provide expert legal services in the following areas: Business & Employment Law, Family Law, Property & Conveyancing, Commercial Property, Dispute Resolution & Litigation, Wills, Probate & Trusts, Lasting Power of Attorney, Taxation and Elderly Client Services. Further details of these services can be found on our website at www.parfittcresswell.com.

You can find your local office here: https://www.parfittcresswell.com/contact-us/

We are offering a number of complimentary telephone/video conference consultations for the month of April. To find out more and reserve your spot to speak with one of our legal experts call 0800 999 4437 or email enquiries@parfittcresswell.com today.