If you planned to move home in the immediate future or even in the short term there are a number of things you will need to consider during this period of Government imposed controls over society. Here we’ll examine what your options are and how you can navigate these uncertainties.
Contrary to media speculation, there is no ‘Ban’ on selling your home or moving house, but there are some very tight controls during this period of ‘Social Distancing’.
The most immediate and important point of reference is the Government Advice on home moving during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This can be found on www.gov.uk and applies to people buying or selling private homes in which they intend to live. The principle here is that where possible people should be flexible in their approach to the situation and where possible follow guidance to stay away from other people (Social Distancing). What does this mean?
1. The Government guidance suggests that you do not need to pull out of transactions.
2. If you are moving into a vacant property then you can continue with this transaction but you should follow the guidance on Home Removals (see below).
3. If you are moving into a property which is currently occupied, the guidance encourages all parties to do what they can to amicably agree to alternative dates for the move, to a time when stay at home measures are no longer in place (reviewed on a 3 weekly basis).
There are some exceptions to this, for example where a move is considered ‘critical’ or where a new move date cannot be agreed – importantly, in the powers given to police to restrict movement this is also an exemption. This is likely to mean that if your move is in the immediate future and if you delayed the move there would be severe hardship for the people involved, you may be able to proceed, but following guidance where possible.
It’s important to recognise that the advice suggests that wherever possible a home move should be delayed. However where this is not possible then people must follow advice on staying away from others. If you can, delay your move, and also be aware that if any person is self-isolating on medical grounds a home move should not go ahead!
Your Mortgage: The UK Governments have worked with ‘UK Finance’ to provide support to customers who have already committed to a move (missives or contracts exchanged) to ensure mortgage lenders support an extension by agreeing to offer a 3 month extension of a mortgage offer to cover this situation. It is important you stay in touch with your lender and mortgage broker for advice in this regard. See www.ukfinance.org.uk
Your Solicitor: Always seek guidance and advice from your solicitor in these circumstances. In Scotland the Law Society of Scotland and the Registers of Scotland (land registry) are working together to make sure that transactions can still proceed even though the ‘Application Record’ has been closed. There is no ‘ban’ on transactions but there are procedures in place your solicitor can provide advice on. See www.ros.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19
Your Home Removals provider: The guidance from Government is that where absolutely unavoidable, removers should honour their commitments to immediate home moves, but following guidance to ensure that this only proceeds where it can be done safely for all people involved. The most recent Government guidance (26/03/2020) states that work can still be carried out in people’s homes provided the provider has no symptoms and is following distancing and hand hygiene guidance. However this is just guidance – any individual removals company may have their own policy to ensure staff safety. See www.bar.co.uk for advice – the home movers trade association.
These are challenging times and you should always be aware of Government advice. We hope this has helped provide information on this subject – most importantly please Stay Safe, protect our NHS and Stay at Home!
Information correct as at 31/03/2020 based on guidance available 26/03/2020.
Your team at Home Report Scotland