New guidance has just been agreed by conveyancers on house moves during the Coronavirus crisis.
The procedures - made pubic only last evening - endorse government advice urging buyers and renters to delay, if possible, any move while measures are in place to fight Coronavirus.
However, if a conveyancer’s client has already exchanged contracts, and the property is currently occupied, then the new guidance says all parties should work together to agree a delay or another way to resolve the matter.
If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on social distancing to minimise the spread of the virus.
In terms of amending existing contracts, conveyancer bodies have agreed a draft clause and the process for firms to follow when varying a completion date.
The guidance sets out the need for conveyancers to exchange a written agreement to alter the existing contract, to e-sign or authorise the conveyancer to sign on the client’s behalf, to formally exchange documents and to ensure clients are fully advised in accordance with their own circumstances.
It also outlines how firms might wish to consider issues that may arise around the client’s mortgage, searches and any additional costs that might be involved.
It also urges firms to treat every case on an individual basis and any clauses or processes recommended by the firm should be amended according to the individual needs of the client.
Within the document there is also specific advice that conveyancing firms can offer to clients who have exchanged, have not exchanged, or for those who have to move during the current restrictive period.
The guidance has been prepared by a group which includes the Law Society, the Society of Licensed Conveyancers, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, Rob Hailstone’s Bold Legal Group and the Conveyancing Association, and has the support of government departments including HM Land Registry.
“The guidance from the government, and that produced by the Law Society in conjunction with other conveyancing bodies, is our attempt to offer some solutions in these exceptional circumstances. There are no simple solutions and the position is one that is fluid and changing. We will keep it under review and if necessary step in again” explains Simon Davis, president of the Law Society.
You can see the guidance in full here.