Worthingtons Solicitors

Will you be home for Christmas?

It’s time to put up the Christmas tree and listen to Wham! on repeat; Christmas is nearly upon us! Traditionally the Christmas period is a busy and popular time for people wanting to move to a new house and this year has been no different.  With the current Stamp Duty ‘holiday’ in place until March 2021, the recent extension of the Help to Buy Scheme and historically low interest rates it is not surprising that many people are choosing now as the time to step onto the property ladder.

Coronavirus Special Conditions

We have come a long way since March when lockdown took hold and property transactions nearly came to a halt.  Significant and admirable effort has been made across the conveyancing industry to get things up and running again.  Despite the ‘circuit breaker’ style lockdown currently in place until 11 December 2020, the government have confirmed that the housing market will remain open which is good news for those looking to move. 

To enable flexibility in the wake of the pandemic, the Law Society of Northern Ireland earlier this year released Coronavirus Special Conditions. The Conditions cover 13 different ‘Coronavirus Events’ from illness and self-isolation to failure of funds being released in time for completion.  The Conditions allow for delay in completion if one of the outlined events occurs.  It is important to note that these conditions cannot be used by one party to simply pull out of the transaction as all other aspects of the contract remain binding. 

If, due to a Coronavirus Event, either party is unable to complete on the specified completion date or is delayed in carrying out material obligations under the contract, parties should try and work together to set a new completion date.  If this cannot be agreed, then the Conditions state that:

“…The Date for Completion shall be 30 working days from and including the date of service of the Coronavirus Event Cessation Notice in respect of that Coronavirus Event (3.1).”

Moving Forward

Whilst solicitors are still working hard to get transactions over the line, there are several factors which are beyond the control of your solicitor and which may impact the transaction.  These include delays and problems in the following areas:

  • Obtaining Building Control and Regional Property Certificates
  • Registrations in Land Registry
  • Processing times for mortgage applications
  • Delays in obtaining title deeds
  • Delays by banks in releasing funds
  • Practical issues which include travel restrictions and self-isolation, verifying clients identity and the signing of contracts
  • Staff sickness through self-isolation and Covid-19 related illnesses

As we all know moving house can be one of the most significant and stressful things we do in normal times and these are not normal times.  We would ask everyone involved in an ongoing conveyancing case to remain flexible and patient as your transaction progresses and realise that your solicitor is trying their best to ensure you enjoy the festive season in your new home.

Alexandra King is a solicitor in the Property Department. She can be contacted on 028 9181 1538 or [email protected]

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