UK Residential Property Transactions FAQs- COVID-19
In view of the outbreak of the COVID-19 and the subsequent self-isolation/social distancing directives which have been imposed on the United Kingdom, the UK Government has recently issued informal guidance on UK residential property transactions.
If you have recently exchanged on a property, or are thinking about exchanging, please see below some FAQs:
Q1: I have already exchanged contracts - will completion be able to take place?
A: There is no offcial Government guidance on this yet but a Government spokesperson has said the following:
"Home buyers and renters should, as far as possible, delay moving to a new house while emergency measures are in place to fight coronavirus."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. Anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, should follow medical advice and not move house for the time being."
Practically, it is now likely to be difficult to actually move house the British Association of Removers has told members "The Member should only complete any moves that are underway and immediately cancel or postpone any move that has not yet started." The Law Society state that if you are due to complete on a sale or purchase within the next few days, and all parties are able to proceed, which may be difficult given the position with removal firms, there's currently nothing to prevent you doing so.
Q2: I am due to exchange contracts this week - what should I do now?
A: As stated above, the current Government advice is to delay moving to a new house while emergency measures are in place to fight coronavirus. However, not all residential transactions involve moving house. Completions are able to proceed in certain circumstances, for example buying a property as an investment and the transaction either involves a sitting tenant or where the property is vacant. The guidance also allows for exchange of contracts to take place where the completion date is significantly into the future. However, each situation will be different and dependent on its own facts.
Where contracts have not yet exchanged, any existing provisions for force majeure may no longer be sufficient. Therefore your solicitor should consider adding a special clause to the contract to cover possible delays due to COVID-19 (particularly where the completion date is likely to be within the next 3 to 6 months) together with a long stop date after which the parties can rescind the contract.
Where contracts have already been exchanged, your solicitor should be reviewing your contract to ensure that you are protected against any unforeseen breaches which may result from COVID-19. If the contract does not provide for any protection, your solicitor should be negotiating a variation of the terms with the seller's solicitor.
Q3: What is the best way to get contracts and deeds signed during lockdown?
A: The Land Registry's current stance is that a wet ink original is required for registration. We await further updates as to how or whether the Land Registry will be changing their practice in light of the current situation.
Q4: Has the Law Society issued any guidance for residential property?
A: The Law Society published updated guidance on 25 March 2020 on COVID-19 and residential conveyancing transactions on (click here)
The Future of Property Careers
Join to our panel discussion and Q&A with industry leaders on the range of opportunities within the property and construction sector.
Can a restrictive covenant become obsolete?
Q&A on adverse possession
A successful application for title by adverse possession will result in the squatter acquiring possessory title to land.
Oliver Park writes for LexisPSL Property Disputes on liability for costs of repair
Oliver considers the implications of the decision in City of London v Leaseholders of Great Arthur House.
Procuring modular housing: Is MMC becoming mainstream?
Is Modern Methods of Construction becoming mainstream? Read what it means for Development and Procurement here.
Q&A: Talking the telecoms talk
Georgina Muskett and Jonathan Wills answer queries on Electronic Communications Code agreement.
Property Patter: Navigating the complexities of Pharmacy Property
Pharmacy property is a specialist area which contains many traps for the unwary.
What do the new Debt Respite Scheme Regulations mean for Landlords and Tenants?
This will provide legal protection from creditors in the form of either a breathing space or a mental health crisis moratorium.
Risk allocation in commercial leases: the High Court considers rent suspension, insurance and frustration arguments
Read our summary of the full judgement on the latest Covid arrears case.
ICC 2021 Rules
The ICC has recently updated its rules for arbitration: the new rules entered into force on 1 January 2021 (the “2021 Rules”).
Building Back Better: Future Gazing
What’s next for the hospitality industry post-pandemic?
Building Back Better: Re-examining your proposition
Why hospitality businesses should re-examine their proposition now
Building Back Better: Real Estate and Restructuring
How and why should hospitality businesses re-structure post pandemic?
Asian Legal Business, Hubbis and eprivateclient report on the firm's expansion in Hong Kong
The firm's Hong Kong office continues to expand with the relocation of Real Estate Partner Simon Green to lead the firm’s focus in Asia.
UK property market continues to thrive
Stamp Duty, Green houses and 5% deposits: The Government’s Commitment to Housebuilding Continues
We look at the current raft of measures the Government has in place to support home ownership and the housebuilding industry.
Use and Regulation of Renewable Energy Certificates in the UAE
The market for trading in renewable energy certificates is set to increase in both visibility and importance.
Property Patter: cohabitees and property rights - what do couples need to think about?
It is easy to drift into complicated territory when it comes to property arrangements between a couple
Charles Russell Speechlys LLP continues Hong Kong growth with the relocation of Real Estate Partner
We are delighted to continue the growth of our Hong Kong offering with the relocation of Simon Green to lead the firm’s focus in Asia.
Government consults on lifting commercial rent restrictions
As the Government consults on lifting of CRAR enforcement procedures, read our summary of what this means for landlords here.