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How Are Coronavirus Restrictions Impacting Contract Completion Dates?

on Monday, 30 March 2020.

Parties must now enter into a further contract to cover coronavirus (COVID-19) stay-at-home restrictions.

On 26 March, the government published The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, the effect of which is to restrict movement during the period.

The main legal representatives involved in conveyancing transactions; The Law Society, Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, The Conveyancing Association and the Society of Licenced Conveyancers have worked together to agree the outline of a process for deferring a contract completion date.

Guidance was published by The Law Society on 29 March 2020 to their members.

How Will This Impact Contracts?

This provides for a change in the agreed date for completion, which complies with the requirements of s2 the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989.

Parties should enter into a further contract, either e-signed to comply with social distancing rules, or by the respective solicitors with their clients authorisation. The contract must then be exchanged in accordance with The Law Society's formulae for exchange. The solicitors must send the original signed copy of the contract once the coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions on movement are lifted.

The contract should cover:

  • the current stay-at-home period with the ability to extend if the restrictions are prolonged
  • the timescale for the move once the restrictions are lifted, taking into account the time to find a remover or alternative accommodation

Solicitors must also give consideration to and advise their clients on the following points:

  • whether a buyer's mortgage offer will remain valid
  • what will happen if a parties circumstances change during the COVID-19 period? eg loss of employment
  • the effect of fluctuating property values and whether this will impact upon a clients mortgage
  • the impact of the death of any party to a transaction in a chain, which would necessitate the settlement of their estate before the move can go ahead

What About Clients Who Have Been Able to Move?

Further advice is provided for clients who have been able to move during the stay at home period, and the requirements for physical distancing whilst following the government guidance.

It is recommended that:

  • parties should only move if the move is critical and safe to do so, and to an empty property
  • parties should complete a deep clean when moving into a new home
  • follow the advice given for decontamination of your new home if it is suspect that the previous occupants have had contact with the coronavirus (covid-19)

If you require specialist legal advice in relation to moving house, or require assistance with a property contract, please contact Fiona Baker In our Residential Conveyancing team on 01923 919 353, or complete the form below.


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