Will Leyland, 27 March 2020
It already feels cliched to say unprecedented in almost any context at the moment. It can’t be unprecedented every day, surely?
And yet, every single day something else seems to come along. As of this week, the UK is now officially in lockdown, and that means a restriction on movement and liberties not seen for centuries.
It’s difficult to constantly have to absorb the gravity of the new information that comes out each day, but as professionals and business owners, that is absolutely what we must do.
Each day brings its own challenges and new information but we must assess that information, assess its relevance to our business activities and act accordingly. More often than not as agents, landlords or in other capacities we are taking decisions that affect many people whether they’re clients, tenants or colleagues.
It’s for this reason that we always act responsibly and professionally in order to best serve everybody that we work with, and these new announcements are no different in that sense.
With that in mind, we’re now asking what the government’s new lockdown measures mean for all of us within our industry.
We’ll look at tenants who are moving firstly as the government advice appears to have been most vague for these people, despite nearly 20 million people across the UK being private renters.
As far as official advice goes, it has to be said that this is subject to constant change, and so this is up to the point of publication.
Michael Gove addressed the issue on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday morning, suggesting that people should postpone house moves if they could, stating that those who had already signed paperwork could move if absolutely necessary.
As with other measures within the lockdown, there is a presumption that renters are only moving in the instance that they’re not physically able to postpone the move, but beyond that there’s no clear guidance.
Of course, the matter appears to be much messier for those who are buying or selling homes, as once the contracts have been signed there’s a presumptive legal contract to complete the sale.
The Homeowners Alliance has updated its website with advice for people in the current climate, saying that all sales and purchases which have not yet exchanged should be postponed until after restrictions are lifted.
In instances where this isn’t possible, they should get in touch with their solicitors or conveyancers to discuss a possible route forward.
Again, as with renters, if there is no avoidable way to postpone the move then the advice appears to be to proceed with caution, to try and keep gatherings to a minimum and proceed as quickly as possible.
That being said, despite the government announcing that the police would enforce any measures it’s not entirely clear how they intend to do that, and if people have good reason to break them, who they seek out for advice.
It’s suggested that those who are worried could approach the citizens advice bureau, the local council or even their local MP, but it’s also expected that clearer guidance will be released over the coming days.
As Britain prepares itself for some of the most uncertain times in its modern history, we can all be sure that those of us within the industry will remain calm, professional and will put the wellbeing of our clients and colleagues at the forefront of everything we do.
Will Leyland, 27 March 2020