We have been closely monitoring industry relevant communications from government and our trade associations – here are some of the latest areas that may be of interest to you.

Government has issued advice through the media, speaking directly to buyers and sellers. Their advice is:

There is no need to pull out of transactions.
Where the property being moved into is vacant, then you can continue with this transaction although you should follow the guidance found in the full advice link below on home removals.
Where the property is currently occupied, we encourage 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 will no longer be in place.

In the new emergency enforcement powers that the police have been given to respond to Coronavirus, there is an exemption for critical home moves, in the event that a new date is unable to be agreed.

Recognising parties will need to alter common practice, Government has sought to ease this process:

Issuing this guidance, developed with Public Health England, to home buyers and those involved in the selling and moving process;
Agreeing with banks that mortgage offers should be extended where delay to completions takes place in order to prioritise safety; and,
Working with Conveyancers to develop a standard legal process for moving completion dates.

Full Government advice here: Home moving

The government has brought forward a package of measures to protect renters affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). With these in force, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home.

From 26 March 2020 landlords will have to give all renters 3 months’ notice if they intend to seek possession (i.e. serve notice that they want to end the tenancy) – this means the landlord can’t apply to start the court process until after this period.

Tenants are still liable for their rent and should pay this as usual. If they face financial hardship and struggle to pay this, support is available. In the first instance they should speak to their landlord if they think they will have difficulty meeting a rental payment.

The government will also issue guidance which asks landlords to show compassion and to allow tenants who are affected by this to remain in their homes wherever possible.

The government is also committed to supporting landlords, and maintaining the positive partnership between tenants and their landlords. That is why, in addition to the measures outlined above, government has also agreed with lenders that they will ensure support is available where it is needed for landlords. Landlords will also be protected by a 3 month mortgage payment holiday where they have a Buy to Let mortgage

At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.

Full Government advice here: Landlords and renters

Having reviewed the advice, our stance at DC Lane is to ask any tenant who does contact us with concerns on paying the rent to provide confirmation of the changes to their income stream, after which we will discuss their situation with the Landlord and look to agree a common-sense approach between the parties.

Advice has now been given in relation to maintenance and improvement works Landlords remain legally obligated to ensure properties meet the required standard – urgent, essential health and safety repairs should be made. An agreement for non-urgent repairs to be done later should be made between tenants and landlords. Local authorities are also encouraged to take a pragmatic, risk-based approach to enforcement.

Estate Agents should ensure they are able to support clients during this period:

Agents should work with their clients and other agents to broker a new date to move where sales are due to complete on occupied properties in the current period where emergency measures are in place to fight coronavirus (COVID-19).
Agents should prioritise support for anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, and those they are in chain with, to agree a new date.

In line with advice for certain businesses to close, agents should not open branches to the public during this period, or visit people’s homes to carry out market appraisals.
Agents should ensure that employees can work from home, to support existing clients and advise potential new clients.
Agents should continue to progress sales where this can be done whilst following guidance to stay at home and away from others.
Agents should advise clients to be patient and not to exchange contracts unless the contracts have explicit terms to manage the timing risks presented by the virus.

At DC Lane we are committed to following government advice in order to help beat the Corona virus threat, and therefore will be following the guidelines published.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that this is a fast paced and dynamic situation, where advice is liable to change without notice. We will commit to keeping you as up to date as we can over the coming weeks, however we do advise that you regularly check the .gov website for latest information

Stay Safe,

Helen, Dan, Amy & Emily
The Team @ DC Lane

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