The Law Society has endorsed industry-wide guidance to conveyancing firms advising clients on house moves during the Coronavirus crisis.
Today’s guidance (29 March 2020) has been prepared by a group which includes the Law Society, the Society of Licensed Conveyancers (SLC), the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, Bold Legal Group and the Conveyancing Association (CA), and has the support of government departments including HM Land Registry.
The guidance sets out the need for conveyancers to exchange a written agreement to alter the existing contract, to e-sign or authorise the conveyancer to sign on the client’s behalf, to formally exchange documents and to ensure clients are fully advised in accordance with their own circumstances.
Its primary purpose is to help conveyancers assist clients and comply with the latest government regulations and guidance on home moving, in particular:
- Home buyers and renters should, where possible, delay moving to a new house while measures are in place to fight Coronavirus and in accordance with government guidance.
- If the client has already exchanged contracts, and the property is currently occupied, then all parties should work together to agree a delay or another way to resolve this matter.
- If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on staying away from others to minimise the spread of the virus.
This additional guidance covers four key areas:
- Amending existing contracts.
- Advice for clients who have already exchanged contracts.
- Advice for clients who have not yet exchanged contracts.
- Advice for clients who have to move during the current restrictive period.
In terms of amending existing contracts, the stakeholder group has worked together and agreed a draft clause and the process for firms to follow when varying a completion date.
The guidance also outlines how firms might wish to consider issues that may arise around the client’s mortgage, searches and any additional costs that might be involved.
It urges firms to treat every case on an individual basis and any clauses or processes recommended by the firm should be amended according to the individual needs of the client.
Within the document there is also specific advice that conveyancing firms can offer to clients who have exchanged, have not exchanged, or for those who have to move during the current restrictive period.
The Guidance can be downloaded by visiting the Law Society website.
Simon Davis, President of The Law Society, said:
“The Law Society recognises the real difficulties faced by those who are trying to move home, particularly for those who have exchanged contracts, but are not able to complete, for a variety of reasons created by the restricted movement requirements.
“The guidance from the government, and that produced by the Law Society in conjunction with other conveyancing bodies, is our attempt to offer some solutions in these exceptional circumstances.
“There are no simple solutions and the position is one that is fluid and changing. We will keep it under review and if necessary step in again.”
Paul Smee, Chair of the Conveyancing Association, added:
“At present, home moves should not be contemplated unless the need to move is critical. So, this guidance only applies to cases where contracts have already been exchanged and the parties involved have been unable to agree on a delay in completion…
“Home moves can only occur where it is safe for them to do so. Some cases will have special features on which specific advice will be needed and home buyers and sellers should always talk to their conveyancer.”