We are all entering the unknown with COVID-19 which is an unprecedented and fast moving situation and will effect you in one way or another, even if you do not become ill or have to self isolate it will have some effect on all our lives. If you are currently a party in a property conveyancing transaction and you are approaching the completion stage you may find that you, some of the parties or all of the parties in your chain cannot complete your transaction because you have to self isolate. You may find that you cannot source a removal company to assist you with your move as their employees are in self isolation.
The legal process does not afford you much protection in the instance that you have already exchanged contracts, and then you or one of the parties involved in your transaction cannot complete due to self isolation. The party that can complete the transaction can serve a notice to complete in the usual way, which gives you a set amount of time to complete the transaction and also means you are liable to pay interest during the notice time until you actually complete. You may loose your deposit and the party that is ready to complete may decide to withdraw all together from the contract, alternatively they may decide to pursue you for specific performance and force you to complete.
We would not recommend drafting or agreeing to specific clauses in your contract to cater for the above types of problem, as this is unprecedented territory any clauses would have to be very carefully worded and all parties in the transaction would need to agree to them.
To avoid these problems we would suggest agreeing to a completion date and all parties working towards that date and agreeing to a simultaneous exchange and completion, where the exchange of contracts and physical completion, (moving in) takes place on the same day thus avoiding the situation where one person cannot complete and their being in breach of contract.
We would recommend communication with us, your agent and your lender/broker at this time is paramount to help decide the best course of action and the best way to proceed for you. Please feel free to contact a member of the property team.