Five bodies representing conveyancers have joined forces to issue detailed guidance to support the re-opening of the housing market while complying with social distancing and other public health measures.
It has been produced by the Law Society, Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, Bold Legal Group, Conveyancing Association and Society of Licensed Conveyancers.
On 13 May, the government issued guidance on reopening the market, saying conveyancers could open for business and take on new instructions. “They should make sure their clients are aware of the differences in completing transactions during this period.”
This was supplemented a cross-industry guide, backed by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and the latest guidance is aimed specifically at conveyancers.
It covers all stages of the process, from first meeting to completion, including measures such as installing a screen at firms’ reception desks and holding meetings “outdoors or in well-ventilated rooms whenever possible”, the options for executing documents, and warning lawyers to be careful giving undertakings that might be more difficult to perform in the new circumstances.
The guidance does not apply to new-build properties.
Law Society president Simon Davis said: “It is important that conveyancers work together to ensure that home moves can take place safely and that buyers and sellers can understand how the new process is different.
“It will be important for conveyancers and buyers and sellers to remain flexible as the position may change suddenly. Local lockdowns might be imposed that might affect some transactions.”
Rob Hailstone, CEO of the Bold Legal Group, added: “This guidance should help conveyancers reassure themselves, existing clients and potential clients that instructing a conveyancer and moving home is possible if everyone involved takes sensible and different precautions, depending on each individuals’ needs and the needs of their particular transaction.”