Moving Home - update and FAQs
Both the Scottish Government and the Law Society of Scotland have issued guidance to all property solicitors on what is expected to happen during the present “lockdown” period. This guidance relates to both concluded and unconcluded transactions.
The Application Record of the Land Register of Scotland was closed on 24th March 2020 and since that date the Law Society, UK finance and others have been working together to try to find an interim solution to allow and to facilitate a number of imminent and essential transactions to complete. Before any transaction can complete certain essential steps must be in place before a transaction can safely be permitted to settle. These transactions are more than likely to be in the very late stages and close to settlement and will also be very much in the minority given that the general advice is that, where possible, parties to transactions should instead attempt to reschedule settlements.
This may not always be possible or indeed practical and, especially where there are already concluded contracts in place, technically both sellers and buyers could potentially be in breach of contract [Conditions 12 and 13 of the Scottish Standard Clause (Edition 3)]. Each client will face different challenges e.g. household removals have also been halted and thus the legal advice to clients will differ in individual cases. Potential buyers and sellers are therefore advised to contact their solicitor to discuss as soon as possible.
Some of the questions which our clients have asked are as follows:-
Q I have a concluded contract but cannot get a removal company to move me out?
- Whilst technically as a seller you will be in breach of contract, your buyer may likewise be in a similar position. Our advice would be to jointly agree to amend the contractual date which will take into account the possible timescale restrictions which might potentially remain in force. If your buyer is in a position to move and wishes to do so and you cannot move out then there is a contractual issue. Further guidance, it is hoped, will follow from the Law Society in due course.
Q As a seller with a house on the market, should I carry out viewings?
- Whilst is is perfectly proper for a house to remain on the market and advertised for sale during the current lockdown period, our advice to clients is that access should not be permitted to prospective enquirers.
Q I have nowhere to live – what do I do?
- As indicated above where there is proven hardship emergency measures have been put in place to facilitate such transactions. These measures and criteria are not straightforward and will require to be discussed with your lender and solicitor.
Q Can I make an offer/conclude missives?
- Whilst there is generally nothing to prevent discussions taking place and contracts being progressed, given recent announcements from key lenders on their change in criteria, it would appear prudent, unless in a “cash” situation, to delay concluding any actual contracts until the restrictions have been eased/lifted. Again your solicitor will be able to advise in more detail.
Although in observance of Government guidelines all of our offices are presently closed to the public, our professional staff continue to work remotely and will be on hand to answer your questions either by telephone via our usual office telephone numbers or by email.
If we are acting for you at the present time our staff will be in touch to update you as matters develop in the coming weeks.