COVID-19: Update on buying and selling property during alert level 3

The guidelines for Alert Level 3 have been issued and will be in place as of today, Tuesday 28 April 2020.

New Zealanders are now able to move house during Alert Level 3, including moving between regions.  All moving companies, and freight and domestic air services for the purposes of moving house will be allowed to operate.  Despite the green light given, the general rule to avoid and minimise physical interactions beyond your Alert Level 4 bubble, wherever possible will apply as a matter of common sense.

In the context of property settlements, Alert Level 3 means:

  1. Most lawyers will remain working from home as they did under Alert Level 4. Remote signing and audio visual attendances with lawyers will continue to take place prior to settlement.
  2. Pre-settlement inspections will be possible as long as those involved (e.g. purchasers, inspectors and agents) follow public health measures, such as keeping a 2 metre distance from each other. Common sense tells us that we should careful to sanitise before and after these inspections and parties should avoid touching things unnecessarily.
  3. Keys may be provided upon completion of settlement but again, parties should follow public health measures.
  4. Auctions and open homes will not be allowed until Alert Level 2.

Many contracts will have amended settlement dates deferred until after Alert Level 2 is lifted which was in line with the Law Society’s suggestion, sensible and relevant at the time.  It will be up to the parties to decide whether they will re-negotiate this in light of the novel Alert Level 3 parameters now disclosed. 

Before finalising a new settlement date, purchasers should make sure they are able to book their furniture removal companies as there may be a high demand for such services.  Flexibility around settlement dates may still be necessary to accommodate an Alert Level 3 settlement.

Our comments are based on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment article  and is subject to changes issued by the New Zealand government.

If you have any questions about buying or selling a property, please get in touch with our property team or your usual contact at Hesketh Henry

Disclaimer:  The information contained in this article is current at the date of publishing and is of a general nature.  It should be used as a guide only and not as a substitute for obtaining legal advice.  Specific legal advice should be sought where required.



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