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Buying, Selling, Moving… 

A collective group including the Law Society, the Society of Licensed Conveyancers &  the Conveyancing Association has released guidance on what conveyancers, buyers and sellers should do to comply with the  Government guidance on home moving (published 26th March 2020),  during the coronavirus outbreak. Click on the links to read the full guides. Some key points: 

1, 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.

2, 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.

3, 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.

The guidance covers 4 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.

Paul Smee, chairman of the Conveyancing Association commented: 

“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.  It outlines the relevant requirements that have been put in place by the Government to counter the spread of the virus, and what conveyancers need to do to work within them. 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.

“Firms should be prepared for a changing situation and their service will need to respond flexibly in order to comply with the Government’s evolving objectives. To that end, we are also able to provide members with access to business continuity guidance, provided by both individual member firms and the SLC, which is available on the CA website.

“This has been a real collegiate effort amongst a range of conveyancing trade and sector bodies, plus the regulators and Government departments such as HM Land Registry, to provide this supplementary guidance that should help firms to work through such cases.”

Simon Davis, Law Society President, commented:

“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.”

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)  & Residential Lettings

New rules apply from tomorrow, 1 April 2020 and unless the Government makes an overnight announcement its unlikely to be delayed by the Corona outbreak. 

The MEES sets a minimum energy efficiency level of E for all domestic private rented properties in England and Wales requiring an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Until now this applied to new tenancies and renewals, but from tomorrow the requirement extends to all relevant properties (there are some exemptions). Relevant landlords with EPC ratings F and G must improve the property as required by the MEES, to an E rating or register an exemption if they want to continue to let it.

Also from tomorrow, existing exemptions registered because a landlord failed to get any funding for energy efficiency improvements will no longer be valid. Those exemptions registered prior to 1 April 2019 will now need to make improvements (up to £3,500) to ensure their properties achieve EPC E by 1 April 2020 – unless a further exemption is successfully granted. If a landlord can improve their property to an E rating (or higher) for less than £3,500 then they will have met their obligation. If an E rating or above cannot be achieved for £3,500 or less, then landlords must make all the improvements that can be made up to £3,500, and then register for an ‘all improvements made’ exemption. 

AB Landlords have been regularly contacted so will be well aware of this requirement but should you have any queries do contact your Property Manager. The Government’s guidance can be read here. You can also read our January 2020 blog here for more details also.

This article is intended as a guide only. It is not exhaustive and does not constitute legal advice.