Government issues guidance to movers amid Covid-19 lockdown

On the move: Buying and selling property has never seemed more difficult. Picture: Getty Images/iSto

On the move: Buying and selling property has never seemed more difficult. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Government has urged people looking to move house to put their plans on hold.

“Home buyers and renters should, where possible, delay moving to a new house while measures are in place to fight coronavirus,” it said in guidance published last week.

Movers are warned that, while there is “no need to pull out of transactions we all need to ensure we are following guidance to stay at home and away from others at all times.”

Those who have already exchanged contracts on a property which is unoccupied can continue with the transaction. But if the property is currently occupied, both sides are asked to work together to resolve the matter - by agreeing a delay, for example.

If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay then the move can take place, as long as social-distancing measures are followed.

Anyone with coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating should follow medical advice by “not moving house for the time being, if at all possible”.

Nick Ingle, who leads the residential team at Savills in Harpenden, said: “Where people are midway through a transaction and they have not yet exchanged they will need to speak to their solicitor and ask for an extended completion date – the longer into the future the better.

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“There should also be some flexibility built in to either complete earlier or later should the whole of the chain agree and the current situation changes. This will need to be agreed by the solicitors involved and clients should liaise with their legal representatives.”

Where someone is due to complete and it is absolutely necessary to do so then there are two possibilities, Nick said. “Either try to delay completion as above, or everyone can agree to stay in their properties under licence.

“With the latter, everyone completes but remains in their homes until an agreed date. This is sometimes a more complicated route to go down as there are potential insurance and possible lending issues, but the advantage is that everyone knows where they stand and the transaction has completed.”