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Will Covid-19 have an affect on my Conveyancing matter

Posted By Frances Lang  
23/04/2020
11:06 AM

Information on the impact that Covid-19 might have on your conveyancing process

If you have bought or sold a property recently, put your house on the market or are currently looking to purchase a property, the current global pandemic might have your worried about how it could impact your sale or purchase. Here are a few things that we think you should know about the affects that Covid-19 might have on your conveyance and some information that might answer some of your worried questions.

If you have a settlement coming up, will it be delayed or cancelled due to Covid-19?

The first thing to remember if you have already exchanged on a contract and are waiting for your settlement date, is that you are in fact, in a legally binding agreement. All parties to that agreement are still held by law to complete the transaction as if they would normally be required to. Neither a seller nor buyer can terminate a contract due to the pandemic if it is already binding.

It is possible however, to have your settlement delayed due to several different reasons relating to the pandemic. It could be that your lender is working behind schedule due to the impacts of their staffing arrangements, or that the sellers or buyers are personally affected by the Virus. The important thing to remember is that both the seller and buyer have legal rights under the contract and depending on the situation these rights will be explained carefully to you by your Conveyancer. All sellers and buyers are currently being asked to act reasonably and be patient if the cause of the delay is directly due to an issue with Covid-19, however your legal rights remain the same.

Luckily in New South Wales, all settlements are now completed electronically through a program called PEXA and your Conveyancer will have the facilities to complete your settlement successfully, as per normal. We have found that the impacts of Covid-19 to all settlements has been minimal since the pandemic was official however your Conveyancer is always available to chat with you over the phone about any concerns that you do have during this time.

What will happen if you can’t conduct a final inspection of your purchase property or if the Seller is in Covid-19 self-isolation at the property when the settlement is due?

We are very lucky to live in a time where technology is so highly available and this will be your best option if you are unable to, or don’t want to physically attend the property due to Covid-19. Speak with the selling Agent if this is the case, they will be more than happy to set up a video call to show your through the property virtually and complete all necessary tests and tasks that you would have normally wanted to complete. You are also able to request photos or videos of anything you are concerned about and the Agents are more than happy to do this during this tough time. However, it is so important to remember that a final inspection is to satisfy your own investigation of the property and it is important to make a note of anything that concerns you about the property. Like a normal inspection, if you have any concerns always speak with your conveyancer to clear them up before agreeing to settle the property.

If the seller is in self isolation at the property at the time of settlement and your contract provides that the property should be left with Vacant possession, this means that the Seller has not met their obligations under the contract and the purchaser has the right to delay the settlement until the time the seller can remove themselves.

As a purchaser you will have legal rights to issue a notice to complete if this happens, however again, all Conveyancers are asking sellers and buyers to act reasonably during this pandemic as some situations cannot be avoided.

Will Building & Pest inspectors and bank valuers be able to access a property during the pandemic?

Under the contract the Vendor must do all things possible to provide access to inspectors that are investigating the property on behalf of the purchaser. If the Vendor is in self isolation in the house during this time, it would be unsafe for an inspector to carry out the inspection. In this case, your Conveyancer would ask for extensions on times frames under the contract to allow you to have the inspections done at a later time that would suit the Vendor.

We would be asking all parties to act reasonably if this issue arose during the investigations. EzyStep have also prepared special conditions to insert into your contracts to manage situations like this and these will now be added to all new exchanging contracts in the future.

I won’t be able to sign any documents in person; will this affect the process?

Just like the Agent can now offer virtual inspections, your Conveyancer can offer you many ways to sign all documents required, electronically. You can complete your verification of identity, sign your contract and any other documents, on your phone or computer through many different programs and apps. We will advise you directly about each document and how to go about completing it with each programme and if you ever have any difficulties or questions, we are only a phone call away to take you through each of them step by step.

Does the seller need to clean the property to a particular standard due to Covid-19?

The seller will only need to provide the property to the purchaser in a reasonable manner and in the same state that the property was in at the time of exchange of contracts. Sellers should however follow advice from the Government and other authorities in relation to disinfecting surfaces and cleaning that will prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Buyers should also consider the advice given from the relevant authorities about wiping down surfaces and being cautious to stop the spread of the Virus. We would recommend to all buyers that they should disinfect the property before moving your items in, just to be safe.

Will EzyStep be impacted?

Luckily, we are business as usual here at EzyStep! Although we are not offering in office appointments at the moment, we are happy to do whatever it takes to help you on your way to selling and buying your property successfully. We have a big range of technology to help with everything from contract reviews to settlement and would be happy to cater to each individual client and personal situation as best we can. Feel free to contact us at any time before, during or after to discuss any concerns or issues as they arise, your Conveyancer will be more that happy to explain your options, rights and obligations in depth.

 

**This information is general in nature and should not constitute as legal advice. You should obtain legal advice directly from your Conveyancer for each individual circumstance.