Settlements and satisfaction of conditions during COVID-19 Alert Level 3

Since the country went into COVID-19 Alert Level 4 on March 25, 2020, only a small number of conveyancing transactions have been settled, primarily due to the inability for the parties to be able to physically vacate or take possession of the property.

While the country will still be under significant restrictions at Alert Level 3, Bramwell Bate are continuing to work remotely and it will be possible to progress some transactions further than we could during Alert Level 4. At the time of writing, there is no clear direction on how long we may be in Alert Level 3, but it will be for a minimum period of two weeks and until May 12, 2020.

The guidance received when we entered Alert Level 4 lockdown was for conditional dates and/or settlements of sale and purchase transactions to be deferred until the Alert Level was reduced to Alert Level 2 or less.

However, the Government’s guidance on Alert Level 3 suggests that there will be the ability to progress conveyancing transactions through to confirming conditions and completing settlements.

The COVID-19 Alert Levels Summary released by the Government states that during Alert Level 3 the following activities will be permitted:

Businesses can trade without physical contact

We have received confirmation from local service providers such as building inspectors, valuers and removal companies that they will be operating under Alert Level 3. If you have a contract subject to a report being completed, we suggest you contact your service provider to confirm they are operating. If you need assistance finding a service provider that is operating, please get in touch with us.

People instructed to stay at home other than for essential personal movement

Relocating a home or business is included in essential personal movement. This applies to vendors, purchasers and moving companies. Pre-settlement inspections can also be arranged through real estate agents as long as safe social distancing practices are followed. If you have a settlement that has been deferred until Alert Level 2 or less, it may be possible to bring that forward and have settlement completed during Alert Level 3. We suggest reaching out to your legal professional and moving company to find out.

While not every service provider will have had time to update their policies and procedures or make decisions on how they will operate under Alert Level 3, or whether they will operate at all, now is the time to start making enquiries. Even if you don’t wish to bring settlement forward or satisfy conditions in Alert Level 3, if you have conditions to be met during or immediately after Alert Level 2 we strongly recommend you contact and make bookings with these providers now to ensure you will meet your contracted deadlines. It is our understanding that some service providers are already facing a substantial backlog.

For further details on what activities are permitted during Alert Level 3, click here.

Please do not hesitate to call Bramwell Bate with any questions you may have or to see if we can assist you with progressing an existing transaction.