The Effect of the Covid-19 Outbreak on Property Sales and Purchases in Scotland

Moving home is usually the biggest transaction anyone will undertake. The potential impact of the Covid-19 outbreak will be a real concern for anyone involved in buying or selling property in Scotland right now. We have been working hard to keep our lines of communication open with our clients and other solicitors to ensure that everyone is kept up to date on the latest developments from The Scottish Government, The Law Society of Scotland,  the Registers of Scotland and we can work towards completion of these transactions as soon as it is safe to do so.

property sales

The Registers of Scotland closed for business on 24th March which effectively brought all property transactions to a pause. Since then, the Law Society has worked together with lenders and the Registers of Scotland to bring in interim measures to allow some essential transactions to proceed. The Government has also issued separate advice to everyone moving home at this time, which can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-moving-home/.

Advice For Homeowners

Essentially, the advice to everyone is to stay at home and delay transactions where at all possible. It is our experience that our clients wish to adhere to this policy and all parties have amicably agreed to pause proceedings and agree a future date of entry when the restrictions are lifted. During this lockdown period we will still be available to discuss matters with you and we will use this time to carry out the necessary conveyancing with the solicitors on the other side of the transaction so that when the restrictions are lifted, we can look to agree new dates of entry and complete your transaction as soon as possible.

house sales

We are aware that there have been conflicting reports as to whether transactions can still proceed at this time and a small number of transactions may have completed during the lockdown period. We would highlight that the advice from the Scottish Government is that all transactions should be postponed, even where there is a concluded contract. In order to proceed during the lockdown period, the move would need to be reasonably necessary in accordance with your circumstances and those of the other parties involved. In addition, you would require to show that you would be in a position to move safely, without involving removal companies or third parties and the property into which you are moving to would require to be empty or safely vacated. Even where these criteria are met, it may be that the solicitor on the other side of a transaction, or somewhere further down the chain, is not in a position to complete and therefore the transaction could not complete at this time.

Registers of Scotland – Online Portal Clarification

The Registers of Scotland opened a digital portal on 27th April and this has made news headlines, leading many to think that house moves can proceed as normal again. Unfortunately, this is not currently the case due to the Scottish Government’s lockdown restrictions, which are not to be reviewed again until 7th May 2020. The digital portal opened by the Registers of Scotland is not a full re-opening of the Application Record and they are currently only accepting a small number of applications based on transactions which were due to complete at the end of February at the moment. They will move this date forward only when they have completed the applications received through the digital portal at this time. It is vital that when we complete your transaction we are able to send your application to the Registers of Scotland immediately after completion, for the protection of both you and your lender.

 

Walker Laird Solicitors

 

We understand this is a worrying time for all our clients, and the situation is complex, so please do not hesitate to contact Kathryn Gibb in our property department to discuss your particular circumstances.  Kathryn can be contacted by calling 0141 887 5271 or by completing our online enquiry form.