There is a lot of confusion and conflicting information about whether or not the conveyancing market is effectively ‘on pause’ during the current pandemic. In this article, we summarise the current position (as at 1 April 2020).
On 26 March the Government issued advice on home moving during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The overriding message was there is no need to pull out of transactions, but:
The UK is currently under the strictest restrictions on civil liberties in a generation. Emergency legislation has been rushed through Parliament to give legal weight to government guidance to stay at home.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI2020 No.350) makes it an offence to leave one’s home, unless there is a ‘reasonable excuse’ to do so.
Paragraph 6(2)(l) of the Regulations states that ‘to move house where reasonably necessary’ is an exception to the requirement to stay at home.
The Law Society (the representative body of solicitors) has provided specific guidance to practitioners to complement the government advice.
It is not illegal to move home, so long as it is ‘reasonably necessary’ and people can do so without the risk of spreading the virus. There may be practical issues, such as removal services, to overcome.
Even where there is no absolute necessity to move home – and that is of course a very subjective test – that does not mean that the underlying property transaction cannot go ahead. Here are some examples of how you can make progress:
The law can be very innovative in times of necessity, which is why having skilled property lawyers on your side is so important.
As solicitors, it is our responsibility to act in your best interests, but not at the expense of the wider public interest. We must also not help facilitate an offence, including under the emergency Regulations.
If you intend to complete a house purchase and move home, public and individual health considerations must be paramount. That will include:
Getting advice early is essential, and our Property Solicitors are available now to discuss your options with you. Call us today on 0808 168 5813 or complete our online enquiry form.