Client letters should be amended to inform home buyers and sellers of restrictions on visiting properties, conveyancers have been told in new industry guidance backed by the Law Society and property groups.

Yesterday, housing secretary Robert Jenrick announced that the government wanted to restart the housing market. In England, estate agents will be able to reopen their offices, viewings are permitted, show homes can open and removal companies can restart. Hours after the announcement, industry guidance was published on re-opening the home moving market safely.

The guidance states that new instructions, terms of engagement and client letters must be amended to confirm restrictions or information on a physical inspection or visit. For existing instructions, clients must be notified in writing of any restrictions or changes to terms of engagement.

ID checks should be conducted using electronic verification methods where possible. Some legal documents will require witnesses to be physically present. Signatories should use their own pen and wear gloves. Electronic signatures should be used where possible and documents should be electronically dated correctly.

Law Society president Simon Davis said: ‘We welcome the announcement by government to re-open the housing market so that buyers and sellers can engage once again within the perimeters of social distancing guidelines.

‘Solicitors are ready to help the many whose house moves have stalled - so long as, crucially, it can be done in a way that complies with public health requirements. The industry-wide guidance and subsequent guidance for solicitors will help them to get the market back on its feet safely, securely and as expediently as is possible.’


*The Law Society is keeping the coronavirus situation under review and monitoring the advice it receives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Public Health England.