Coronavirus: moving house completion date guidance

7th April 2020

A consensus seems to have broken out in the conveyancing industry as to how to handle completion dates for purchases in the present circumstances.  The Law Society, in consultation with other industry bodies, published guidance on 29 March 2020.

We look at the completion date guidance set out for occupied and unoccupied houses.

Unoccupied properties and new built houses

For parties who have already exchanged and are moving into unoccupied properties (such as a newly built house), it is still possible to move house so long as you follow the UK Government Guidance on home removals in line with The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 of 26 March 2020.

Completion date guidance for occupied properties

The most sensible piece of advice for those wishing to buy an occupied house now would be to delay the completion date until things are clearer. This of course will depend of the stage you are at in the conveyancing process but it may be possible to agree a delay clause that will allow you the security of exchanging contracts without the commitment of having to complete in uncertain times.

Not exchanged contracts

If you have not yet exchanged contracts then you should confirm with any mortgage lender that they will extend the mortgage offer to enable a later completion date. Before agreeing to a delay you may also want to consider the effect of any delay on whether your existing search results will be valid and the likely delays at the Land Registry.

It is important that you consider the effect of any binding contract on your personal circumstances and if you have any questions you should ask your solicitor to explain these to you.

Exchanged contracts already

If you have already exchanged contracts, it may be possible to agree a change to the contract and delay the completion date by way of supplemental agreement between the parties.

Where a chain is due to complete, your solicitor should prioritise their support if parties within your chain are experiencing symptoms, are self-isolating or shielding, and do everything they can to help the parties achieve a later completion date.

Those moving into occupied properties should only continue where agreeing to delay has not been possible as delays are not allowed under the standard conditions of sale and failing to complete can become quite costly.

If you have any queries regarding the completion date guidance at this time, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team.

Enjoy That? You Might Like These:


3 October -
The ‘How to Rent: the checklist for renting in England’ (the “Guide”) is one of the many prerequisite documents that needs to be served on the Tenant prior to the... Read More


23 August -
Stamp duty land tax (SDLT) for property developers varies, depending on whether the property counts as residential or as non-residential. Different rates of SDLT apply accordingly, and significant amounts of... Read More


15 March -
Ensure that you are up-to-date with the latest residential letting guidance from the Government. Read More