Conveyancers struggling to cope with weather disrupts home buying process

Over the last week or so, the weather seems to have taken a turn for the worse.

Despite today marking the second meteorological day of Spring, the wind, rain and snow has left the daffodils – and some conveyancers – nowhere to be seen.

So what does this mean for the profession, and in turn, is it holding up the transaction process for consumers?

One conveyancer who shared the impact the weather was having on his clients was Mike Bowen, Head of Residential Property Service at Jevons Riley & Pope. Whilst highlighting the unique nature of his case as it related to a trust sale, he  commented on the resulting disruption the weather has caused.

“I have a completion today which will not happen not due to the solicitors not being able to get in, I am working from home,  but because of the lender is shut.  In 38 years I have not had that happen.

“In this case people will incur significant losses the interest alone is £540 a day so £1500 plus removal costs etc.

“I think a lot of firms like mine can function as we can work via remote access I have not been in since Monday and my time recording is as normal so it has little impact on transaction progress especially as most things arrive and are sent by email.

“I also have a new build where the Completion certificate is delayed because the buyer cannot get there but that is not a major problem as we can send in the COT and work to a date.

Despite the delays caused as a result of the extreme weather, he stated that it was unlikely to impact consumers significantly.

“Unless consumers are moving it will have little impact in my view the only issue is those moving who may find problems eg removal men refusing to collect stuff from a garage as it is too dangerous.

“The number of failed completions I would hope will be rare as normally you can complete and people move in as licensee and undertakings to send funds are given.”

Also sharing her thoughts was Beth Rudolf. The Conveyancing Association’s Director of Delivery stated:

“The majority of CA member firms support flexible home working as a matter of course so will be able to provide cover whether or not their staff have been able to get to work. Many use Cloud-based case management systems due to the additional security they offer which means their staff can access them wherever they are.

“Of more concern are the arrangements for client’s completion where removers might not be able to get to the property and this means that whilst legal completion takes place physical completion might be trickier. There are provisions within the standard contract to deal with situations where the seller does not vacate but they of course don’t deal with any issues that happen on the day so we would advise anyone due to complete during the current snow storms to have plan B in place to ensure they have somewhere to stay if they cannot move in.”

Simon Law, Director & Head of Legal Practice at DC Law stated:

“Whilst the adverse weather conditions have hampered many in the country, conveyancers have made every effort to ensure that their clients transactions are impacted as little as possible.

“Whilst there are reports of conveyancers offices not being open many conveyancers will be working remotely to ensure that their clients needs are met. The main effects on clients are the external factors relating to the physical move. We saw a number of lenders issue warnings earlier in the week that funds might not be issued due to their staff not being able to get in to work, however it appears that the vast majority of cases have completed with conveyancers having taken the usual precaution of ordering money in the day before completion.”

CEO of When You Move, Simon Bath commented: “In extreme circumstances like these, it’s important to have the right technology so that conveyancers can still operate securely from remote locations. The priority is obviously making sure that everyone is safe, but with secure systems in place, the inclement weather shouldn’t slow down the buying or selling process. The challenge now is ensuring that all sides involved have the technology required, so that delays don’t halt progress.”

Today's Conveyancer