Moving house in the time of coronavirus
Many property buyers and sellers have been left understandably distressed following last Thursday evening’s government announcement regarding home moving during the coronavirus outbreak.
It was stated that, wherever possible, all property transactions should be ‘paused’, except for those that are contractually obliged to proceed or where it is not possible to reach an agreement to postpone the move. The government urged buyers and sellers to ‘adapt and be flexible’ by agreeing new moving dates. It said there was no need to pull out of transactions but both parties should try to agree a new date unless the property is empty.
However, as with so many aspects of life relating to the coronavirus, the ramifications for those in the midst of property transactions are immense. Some people find themselves in temporary accommodation without a date to exchange, whilst others cannot move because they are having to self-isolate but are under a contractual obligation to complete on their transaction.
In an attempt to bring some clarity to the situation, Samantha Bellamy from Penderlaw’s property team answers some FAQs around this recent announcement.
Can I move into a vacant property?
Where the property being moved into is vacant, the government advice states that you can continue with this transaction although you should follow their guidance on home removals.
Can I move into a property which is currently occupied?
Where the property is currently occupied, the government is encouraging all parties to do all they can to amicably agree alternative dates to move, for a time when it is likely that stay-at-home measures against coronavirus (COVID-19) will no longer be in place.
What happens if I have already exchanged contracts?
Government advice is that if you have 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. In line with government advice, anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, should follow medical advice which will mean not moving house for the time being, if possible. All parties should prioritise agreeing amicable arrangements to change move dates for individuals in this group, or where someone in a chain is in this group.
What if the move is delayed beyond the terms of a mortgage agreement?
The government has stated that, all mortgage lenders are working to find ways to enable customers who have already exchanged contracts for house purchases and set dates for completion to extend their mortgage offer for up to 3 months to enable them to move at a later date.
What if my home is not yet on the market?
Viewings in person are not currently permitted, so getting your home onto the market is going to be more challenging than usual in this period. However, you could use this time to get all the documents and information ready so that you have everything to hand once the restrictions due to coronavirus are lifted.
Can I accept an offer now?
Yes, you can but bear in mind that the process is likely to take longer than normal. You are free to continue to accept offers on your property, however the selling process may take longer.
Latest government updates
Government advice is being issued regularly. For the latest information from the government click here