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What Does Coronavirus Mean For Individuals Moving House?

on Friday, 27 March 2020.

New legislation came into force at 1pm on 26 March 2020, to impose restrictions in order to reduce the risk to public health arising from the Coronavirus.

This legislation is The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restriction, England) Regulations 2020.

So How Does This Affect People Looking to Move Home?

Regulation 6 provides that no person may leave the place in which they are living without reasonable excuse. That being to go to and from work where it was not possible to work from home, to shop for bare necessities, for a medical need, or to take one form of exercise per day.

Regulation 6 (2) (l) provides a consent to be outside of the place in which you are living 'to move house where reasonably necessary'. This is seen to be an favourable extension to previous guidelines announced on Monday 23 March, by the Prime Minister as detailed above.

Government guidance suggests :

  • there is no need to pull out of transactions

  • if a property is vacant, then that purchase can proceed to completion, provided distancing guidelines are followed

  • any person with symptoms or who is self-isolating, should not move house for the time being if at all possible

  • parties should work together to agree a deferred date on which to complete a house move

Impact on Current Contracts and Removals Companies

UK Finance have confirmed that for customers who have already exchanged contracts, mortgage lenders are already working to enable customers to extend their mortgage offer for up to three months to help them move home.

Guidance is also now provided to Estate Agents, Conveyancers, Surveyors & Removers.

In terms of Removers, Regulation 7(d)(i) permits a gathering of more than two persons where it is necessary to facilitate a house move. A professional removal company would also be acting in the course of their work which they cannot do from home.

However, it should be noted that they can only carry out their work, where they can exercise social distancing. They should not come into close contact with the occupants of the property. This would also be more problematic in the case of a household displaying symptoms of the virus, which would require isolation.

What Are the Penalties Involved For Falling Foul of the Regulations?

Any person who is believed to have contravened the Regulations may be issued a Fixed Penalty Notice by an 'authorised person'. The fixed penalty notice will be a fixed sum of £60, payable within 28 days reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days. However, the authorised person may also direct that person to return to the place where they are living, or remove that person to the place that they are living. Failure to comply with such a result would permit an arrest.

An authorised person for the purpose of the regulations is a Constable, Police Community Support Officer, a person designated by the Secretary of State for that purpose or a person designated as relevant by the local authority.

If you require specialist legal advice in relation to the new Government legislation, please contact Fiona Baker in our Real Estate team on 01923 919 353 or complete the form below.

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