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Published 28th April 2020 | Coronavirus

Can I move house during the Coronavirus outbreak?

We know the process of moving home can be stressful at the best of times, but in the middle of a global pandemic, like the current Coronavirus (COVID-19), this can add an unbelievable amount of worry.   Many are asking – ‘Can I move house during the Coronavirus?’

During the last couple of months, we have all had to adapt how we go about our daily lives. Here at Osborne Morris & Morgan, we have also had to adapt quickly by working from home, but we are still here to help you with your Conveyancing, whether you’re buying or selling.

The Coronavirus crisis has brought with it an array of questions from our Conveyancing clients and so we thought we’d share this useful information with you.

Can I buy or sell property during the Coronavirus outbreak?

The government’s latest advice, released on the 29 March 2020, states if moving into a property that is vacant, then you can continue with this transaction although you should follow the guidance on safe home removals.

If you are moving into an occupied property, this can only take place where contracts have already been exchanged and it has proved impossible for the parties to delay the date for completion.

This means parties are strongly encouraged to negotiate a delay where moving involves entering a property that is already occupied. Prioritising the health of individuals and the public must always be the priority.

The government also advises that all parties agree on a moving date where it is likely that the current Coronavirus measures will no longer be in place and lockdown restrictions are lifted. 

What if contracts have already been exchanged?

Where delaying a move is not at all possible, parties must strictly adhere to the government guidance on keeping safe by staying away from others to minimise the spread of the Coronavirus.

It is stressed, however, that even where contracts have been exchanged, the transaction should be deferred in most cases where possible until the current stay-at-home period is over. 

Legal bodies have worked together to agree on a process for this so that Conveyancing Solicitors can offer flexible options during these exceptional times and they may differ from the usual Conveyancing process. For instance, once the current restrictions are lifted, Conveyancers will ensure a period of time is agreed before the move to enable everyone to prepare. This may be a period of one or two weeks.

Can my property transaction be contact free?

Meetings with all parties during the transaction process, including Conveyancing Solicitors, must be kept entirely remote by utilising online meeting tools such as Zoom and speaking on the phone. 

Transactions no longer need to be face-to-face, even for signing of contracts which can be signed electronically. There is no reason for people from different households to meet during the process or for physical documents to be posted out. 

Can I move into an unoccupied property?

Much of the guidance provided has been about moving into a property that is already occupied. If a property you are moving into is currently unoccupied, then going ahead with the transaction is perfectly okay, if all parties maintain appropriate social distancing- as per the guidance from Public Health England and Public Health Wales.

If a party in our chain is showing symptoms, or is shielding due to high risk of the Coronavirus, what should happen?

If anyone is showing symptoms of Coronavirus or shielding after receiving a high-risk alert from the NHS, then they should follow medical advice and this could mean a delay in the move.

In this case, all parties should be responsible and prioritise making arrangements to change moving dates. This is extremely important to minimise the spread of COVID-19 to protect the public and to protect vulnerable individuals.

Can I use a removal company during this time?

In light of the guidance that particular property transactions can proceed, removal companies can honour their commitment to carrying out the move. However, removal companies will need to carry out their duties in a way that is safe for their staff and the client. 

Here at Osborne Morris & Morgan, we are still here for you as our staff continue to work safely from home. To arrange a call with one of our expert Conveyancing Solicitors, or for anything else, please contact us either by phone on 01525 378177, email via info@ommlaw.co.uk, or online – where our teams are ready to help you.

We wish you all well during these challenging times.

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Osborne Morris & Morgan is an award-winning firm of Bedfordshire solicitors with offices in Leighton Buzzard and Milton Keynes, servicing clients in the surrounding area and nationwide.

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