Government has suggested ...
• if contracts have not been exchanged, delay doing so until the Coronavirus restrictions are relaxed
• if contracts are already exchanged, both buyers and sellers are legally bound to complete*
• that parties should attempt to mutually agree a delay to the completion date.
Purchases of empty properties (and where buyers reside in the property they are buying) appear to have been given the "green light", as it must be assumed that no social interaction is required and no risk of seller having to self-isolate in the property.
As responsible employers and business owners, we are committed to taking reasonable precautions within our control to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus while maintaining full business services. Currently the team are working remotely and 1 member of the team will have full access to the office. As a modern IT enabled business, we are confident that as a firm there will be little disruption to our service, however, areas out of our control such as cancelled surveys, postponed search functionality, delayed mortgage funds etc will have an impact on what we can progress.
Here are the answers to some questions you may have :-
Q. Can we not exchange with a clause to account for potential Coronavirus delays?
A. This has been advised against by government, Council for Licensed Conveyancers and the Law Society as there is no certainty and this could lead to much bigger issues/problems later
Q. What risks do I face if I exchange?
A. At exchange both buyer and seller are legally bound by the terms of the contract - to complete on the completion date. If a seller/buyer is diagnosed or needs to self-isolate after exchange a seller would be unable to vacate and a buyer may refuse to move in to a potentially infected house. Removal firms may refuse to enter. The legal position will be that the person "in breach" is liable for all costs (of all parties) resulting from the delay
Q. Why don't we just exchange and complete on the same day?
A. You can, but this means that no party (there may be many in the chain) is legally bound by any completion date, until completion. All arrangements made and paid for e.g. removals etc. would need to be cancelled and payments lost. This uncertainty and the risk of chains collapsing at the last minute must be weighed against the risk of a party in the chain being diagnosed with Coronavirus or told to self-isolate. We are aware of sellers taking advantage of this pressure-point to increase purchase price on the day of completion!
Q. What if I have Coronavirus or am self-isolating?
A. We will discuss processes and the best way of dealing, on a case-by-case basis. Our offices are closed to clients and the team are working remotely and we ask you to email your dedicated conveyancer to make contact. It would be unwise to exchange contracts unless and until you are satisfied that any risks associated with the virus are at an end ID - we have a solution - an App which a client will need to download and use to process their ID electronically/remotely. Cost £30 + VAT per client.
Signing documents - we will post out with instructions as to how to sign.
TO SUMMARISE ... if you haven’t exchanged - DON’T unless it’s on an empty house or you are currently living in /renting the property. If you have exchanged, try to agree with the other party to delay until after the lockdown ends. If no agreement can be reached, proceed as per the contract, but in compliance with social distancing
For full details https://lnkd.in/dqVeg_k