The Conveyancing Association (CA), the leading trade body for the conveyancing industry, has today announced its support for a cross-industry guide on re-opening the housing market, enabling people to move safely.
The collaborative industry guide, ‘Re-Opening the Home Moving Market Safely’, sets out in detail how home moves can take place while still fully complying with social distancing measures and Public Health guidance.
It delivers practical advice for all involved in the home moving process and focuses on physical contact points and times when professionals would need to enter private residential properties.
The Guide was developed collaboratively by the residential sector and professional organisations’ representatives. Specifically, it is relevant to property agents, mortgage advisers, property managers, property lawyers/conveyancers, surveyors, energy assessors, home removal, and also associated professionals such as those contractors involved in property development, management, and the home moving processes in the UK.
The guidance, approved by the CA, is the first in a series, and will be followed by consumer guidance and further conveyancing sector-specific guidance.
The contents have been shared with Government, industry regulators and Public Health authorities. As the situation is constantly evolving, information will be updated regularly, and sector-specific guidance will be continuously added to.
Recommendations include those for individual behaviour, client engagement and transparency, how ID checks can take place, and only allowing office attendance from clients by personal appointment. Consideration must also be given to video viewing and checking the COVID-19 status of property occupants.
The Guide also states that ideally one professional and two adults maximum can take part in a physical viewing of a property and that these should take place outside of commute times. Terms of engagement/client letters must be amended to confirm restrictions or information on the physical inspection/visit.
The Guide will also help industry professionals and firms advise clients and/or occupiers on how to prepare for a viewing/inspection/visit. In accordance with public health guidance, it advises high-risk category clients and occupiers not to be present at viewings wherever possible.
There will be a separate Guide published later aimed at consumers wishing to buy and sell property.
Paul Smee, Chair of the Conveyancing Association, commented:
“This practical Guide for all property professionals involved in the home moving process supplements, and builds on, the Government’s own guidance published earlier today and provides recommendations for individual behaviour to reduce the risks of COVID-19, as well as key advice in areas such as client engagement, ID requirements, documentation, preparing a home for sale, plus pre- and post-inspections of properties.
“Our key aim in contributing to this is to ensure that home moves can proceed in a safe manner and that industry professionals are aware of their responsibilities and the actions they should be taking in order to make sure this happens.
“This Guide will be followed by both specific consumer information plus conveyancing sector guidance which will cover a range of recommendations, as well as a checklist for conveyancers to follow.
“The CA is pleased to see the housing market in England being opened up, but are aware that this is not the case yet in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, and there will be ongoing worries about this and the safety of the process.
“This Guide is designed to alleviate a number of those concerns and to spell out that safety of both professionals and consumers should be at the heart of everything we do in order to ensure we can move people into their new homes.”