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coronavirus update

Office reopened – Coronavirus updates

Our Charlton office has now reopened. We are however mindful that these are still early days in the fight against Covid-19 and the safety of our staff and clients remain paramount to us. Therefore, we are only physically seeing limited number of clients (cases where it is imperative for us to do so) and only by prior appointment.

In other cases, we will be able to take instructions over the telephone, by email or by arranging virtual meetings. This will ensure that we continue to serve our clients as safely and efficiently as possible.

Where it becomes necessary for us to see a client in the course of their matter, we will arrange a day for the client to come in and see us and any such meeting will be conducted under the current government guidelines on social distancing.

Read This :   UK Government Updates

MOVING HOME WHILST SOCIAL DISTANCING

The new government guidelines issued on 13 May 2020 have provided people wishing to move home (or whose work aid the moving of homes) with a framework within which they can do so safely. The Housing Secretary set out what he hoped was a comprehensive plan to safely restart, reopen and renew the housing market.  The guidelines can be assessed from here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

The new guidelines mean a person has a reasonable excuse for leaving home if they are undertaking activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting, or rental of residential property: Those activities are:

  • Visiting an estate or letting agent, developer sales office or show home
  • Viewing residential property to look for a property to buy or rent
  • Preparing a residential property to move in
  • Moving home
  • Visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property

Coronavirus Update – The Guidelines

The guidelines make clear that in the first instance viewings should happen virtually. When viewings do happen in person, those involved should follow the government’s plan to ensure the safety of those already in the property itself, those considering moving in and the estate agents and lettings agents.

The requirements include:

  • Visits being by appointment only, open house viewings not taking place, and speculative viewings where buyers or tenants are not serious yet, are highly discouraged.
  • All parties following strict social distancing guidelines.
  • All internal doors should be opened where possible.
  • The current occupier vacating the property for the duration of the visit, going out for their daily exercise, going out to the shops or standing in the garden, if that is possible.
  • All involved in the process washing their hands upon entering the property. And, once the viewing has taken place, all surfaces in the property including the door handles, should be thoroughly cleaned.

Coronavirus Update – Self-isolating

The guidelines further state that for those who are self-isolating or have coronavirus, they should not be moving or going back to work or allowing trades people or professionals into their home. Where this is the case, all parties involved in house buying or selling should prioritise agreeing amicable sensible arrangements to change move dates for the individuals concerned.

Here at Oasis Solicitors, we are committed to helping our clients achieve their desire to move as safely as possible. As the Housing Minister mentioned himself, for most people, moving home is not a luxury. It is a matter of necessity due to a change in their situation.

We can undertake virtually all aspect of the transactions through our system whilst working remotely-although our offices are in fact opened on a limited basis. These include some flexibility in how we take instructions from our clients. For instance, we will be able to take instructions by telephone, email or arranging virtual meetings. Where a client is buying a property, searches will continue to be ordered online, as normal. Lenders will also be able to continue to send us mortgage offers through their chosen platform or our office.

 Coronavirus Update – Buying a property

property
Buying a property

A vital aspect of the process of buying a property is conducting a building survey especially at a time when buyers may not be able to fully explore the property they intend to buy. The new guidelines allow surveys to be conducted, although surveyors should not enter a property where a member of the household is showing symptoms of coronavirus or self-isolating.

Inspections are also to take place by appointment only, and the surveyor should follow government guidance for professionals working in other people’s homes and guidance on social distancing. Where a survey has been carried out, the surveyor will send their report to the buyer client and highlight any matter that the solicitor should check. Undertaking a survey should therefore further strengthen the buying process and offer a potential buyer another layer of security.

In progressing our clients’ transactions, we will be able to review any aspect of the survey that may have been flagged up by the surveyor. This will also form part of our enquiries to the seller’s solicitors or conveyancers. Whist most legal practices have risen to the challenge of remote working, it is however to be expected that there might be some delays in the process.

It is in exchanging and completing a transaction where the limitations caused by Covid-19 might present the most challenge. Whilst the government guidelines encourage parties to be flexible, exchanging contracts still carries with it significant legal implications and it would be essential that the risks posed by a party exchanging contracts have been properly assessed. Where a buyer must give notice to their present Landlord or sell their current home, these can also present added complications.

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At Oasis Solicitors, our solicitors will liaise with all the relevant parties to ensure that it will be possible to complete the process as safely and as risk free as possible. We will work with our clients to manage the process so that they are not left in a position where they are out of a home but unable to move into their new home!

In the context of the actual move, removal firms can operate, although they may need to adjust their usual procedures to ensure moves happen as safely as possible. Where possible, buyers are also encouraged to undertake their own move.

It is plain that these are not normal times, and each transaction will have its own peculiarities and unique features. Whatever the case, we are committed to helping our clients achieve their desire to move-as safely and as reasonably practicable as possible in the present conditions.

Please contact us to see how we can help you.

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