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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

New official guidance: What agents can do in lockdown

The government has unveiled the public health regulations which will underpin the second national lockdown in England - and the exemptions which apply to estate agency.

Following overwhelming approval in Parliament today - by 516 votes to 38 - the regulations, which come into effect at midnight, specifically state that activities relating to the sector are allowed to continue under ‘Exceptions To Leaving Home’. 

The regulations, released to the industry last evening, say individuals may leave home… 

…to undertake any of the following activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property—

(i) visiting estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes;

(ii) viewing residential properties to look for a property to buy or to rent;

(iii) preparing a residential property to move in;

(iv) moving house;

(v) visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property.

This clears up once and for all some of the uncertainties which until now have dogged industry preparations for the second lockdown, which will go on from tomorrow until December 2.

Timothy Douglas, Propertymark’s policy and communications manager, says: “Following the laying of regulations for national lockdown measures in England we are very pleased that the hard work of our members and the importance of the property sector has been recognised with exceptions in the rules for home moves as well as visits to branches and allowing agents to visit property to undertake any required activities. 

“Buying, selling and renting a home will continue and must be done in a Covid secure way and in accordance with the guidance. We will keep members updated throughout the coming days and weeks.”

  • Rob Hailstone

    Clause 6 G of the Regulations (set out in the article) seems pretty clear, but I can’t find any reference to visiting solicitors, conveyancers or law firms, particularly in Parts 1, 2 or 3. Whilst I accept that a lot of property related legal work can be carried out by post or remotely/online, not all of it can be.

    The question is (and I have asked MHCLG to comment) is can buyers and sellers visit their property lawyers if it means their home move might not proceed if they don’t?

    Have I missed something obvious?

    Vilesh Rew

    Sorry, what part of the conveyance cannot be carried out remotely/online/by post?

     
    Daniel Hamilton-Charlton

    It's about time all conveyancers took a look at their processes and procedures. IF, in light of all the tech available, they still require office visits, they are unfit for purpose in the current climate and should be avoided. Times have changed and expectations have moved on.
    If I were instructing a law firm at the moment for conveyancing, I would be asking the simple question "will I ever need to see you?" If the answer was yes, I'd simply go elsewhere.
    Firms that fail to embrace technology to enable progressive, efficient practices 'should' be left behind. They represent the 'ball and chain' for progress and become the slowest links in the chain that prevents everyone from moving quickly.
    I'll admit, there are some firms that have technology and still fail to perform, but their days are numbered too as the market will dictate what good actually looked like when the crunch came.

     
  • Allison-Jayne  Smith

    Good news for the industry

  • Martin Williams

    Ironic that estate agents think that conveyancing should be "Commoditized" no personal interaction, no office visits etc.... should the same not apply to agents?

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    So according to a plain text reading of the regulations, a visit to a property by surveyor or valuer (say, for the purposes of inspecting a property for the purposes of enfranchisement), where the property is not subject to a sale, would be illegal?

  • Rob Hailstone

    "I agree with you Rob, shoddy drafting. And I won’t want clients coming to our doors anyway, nor to now facilitate a possible breach of the Regulations either. I haven’t seen a client since before March, and it has worked just fine though." BLG Member

    "My thoughts are that our client may be committing an offence by being outside of their home without a valid excuse when visiting us because Exemption 1 (clause 6(2)(a) refers to obtaining services from any business listed in Part 3 of the Schedule (which we are not).

    Could they claim exemption 2 “to participate in legal proceedings”? I’m not sure that they could for conveyancing – is it a “proceeding” or is that actually a reference to proceedings in the courts?

    I would prefer not to see clients during this time anyway, we can use electronic methods of ID verification now and most clients can find a neighbour or work colleague to witness documents before posting them back." BLG Member

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