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12 June 2020

Conveyancing and COVID-19 Updates

Updated Society Guidance on Conveyancing in light of the re-opening of the housing market

The Society welcomes the re-opening of the housing market from 15th June 2020 which was announced by the Department for Communities on 11th June 2020.

The Society was pleased to have contributed to the drafting of the updated guidance which was issued by the Department and a copy of which can be accessed on the link below:

https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/communities/dfc-advice-on-home-moving-during-covid-19.pdf

In light of the updated guidance from the Department, the Society would now advise members that its guidance in relation to conveyancing can be updated to permit all transactions to now proceed, provided that they are being carried out in accordance with the Department’s guidance. Members will note from the Department’s guidance that the housing market is not fully re-open as it was before the COVID-19 crisis and that there are still restrictions in some areas.

Members must be mindful of this when progressing transactions. The Society would also encourage members to adopt a flexible approach when dealing with transactions particularly around any delays due to COVID-19.

The Society notes the importance of front loading conveyancing transactions which is referred to in the Department’s guidance and would remind members of the contents of the Memorandum of Understanding with the RICS and NAEA, a copy of which can be accessed on the link below.

Members are also reminded of the draft Coronavirus Special Conditions which were published by the Society on 10th June 2020 and which may be of use in the current circumstances. A copy can be accessed on the link below.

As previously advised, the Committee intends that the draft is not prescriptive and can be adapted by members to be appropriate to the circumstances of each case. For example, in relation to the long stop provisions, these can be amended to fix such a time period as is required in the circumstances or to specify an actual date. Members may also wish to consider whether the expiration of the purchaser’s mortgage offer may be suitable as a long stop.

Also, reference is made in the draft Conditions to chain situations and it may be that members wish to delete this clause depending upon the particular case. At clause 2.2(c), the draft currently provides for reasonable endeavours and members may wish to consider whether best endeavours may be more appropriate for the circumstances of the particular case.

Any issues arising should be sent to Andrew Kirkpatrick, Head of Non Contentious Business at:  andrew.kirkpatrick@lawsoc-ni.org.



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