New guidance for conveyancers underpins efforts to kickstart housing market

Guidance for conveyancers to support government plans to re-open the housing market, enabling people to move home safely, was today unveiled by the Law Society of England and Wales.

The collaborative sector guide sets out how the legal aspects of home moving can take place while complying with social distancing measures and public health guidance.

The impact of COVID-19 is creating new methods of achieving home moves.

On 13 May the government announced its plan to reopen the housing market as safely as possible and issued guidance on how ‘track and trace’ works on 27 May.

Following the release of a cross-industry guide to support government plans to re-open the housing market, sector-specific guidance for conveyancers has now been published as promised.

The purpose of this collaborative industry guide is to provide conveyancing solicitors with information to enable sales and purchases to be carried out while maintaining safety as track and trace is introduced and social distancing measures are eased or increased in line with government guidance.

Simon Davis, president of the Law Society, 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.

“This sector-specific guidance will help conveyancing solicitors to get the market back on its feet safely, securely and as expediently as is possible.”

The guide addresses considerations for electronic and wet ink signatures, ‘Mercury’ style execution, ID verification, witnessing and simultaneous exchange and completion, whilst adhering to social distancing requirements.

It also covers:

  • meeting with clients
  • taking initial instructions
  • complying with ID requirements
  • amending undertakings
  • dealing with lenders
  • exchanging contracts and using the Code for Completion
  • agreeing completion dates
  • executing documents
  • dealing with transactions in Wales

Notes to editors

The guidance has been prepared by the Law Society, the Society of Licensed Conveyancers, CILEx, the Bold Legal Group and the Conveyancing Association.

It was developed collaboratively by the residential conveyancing sector and their professional and membership organisations.

The guidance is applicable to both England and Wales but the regulations and guidance relating to the re-opening of the market issued by the UK government and referred to in this guidance apply only in England.

This guidance applies to owner occupied homes and to second hand, rather than new-build, homes.

Read the guidance

Now that the government have also issued their guidance about how test and trace will work, there may be even more need to consider how transactions will operate if those involved in moving home need to isolate at short notice.

See the government guidance

We have worked with others in the conveyancing sector to provide a draft rider to the contract to address delays of this kind. With this sits some information for conveyancers and for your clients.

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Nick Mayo0208 049 4100