The Property Law Section welcomes MBIE’s advice that people can move homes during Alert Level 3, including between regions.
“Many contracts will include a deferred settlement clause along the lines we suggested, ie, that settlement should be deferred until level 2,” says Duncan Terris, New Zealand Law Society’s Property Law Section Chair.
“It will now be up to individual parties to decide whether they wish to re-negotiate their settlement date, or to wait until the Alert Level 3 restrictions are lifted as they might previously have agreed. Some lawyers and their clients have already modified the PLS clause to provide for a level 3 settlement date; they will need to make arrangements to ensure that they can shift safely. Before finalising settlement dates, parties should ensure they are able to book in a furniture removal company if they are physically required to move as there will be great pressure on that industry. Some flexibility around settlement dates might still be necessary to accommodate that issue,” Mr Terris says.
“It is clear from the Alert Level 3 announcement that we are not back to “business as usual” however, and physical distancing is still required so any property settlement and shift will need to be carried out in accordance with government guidance.
“There cannot be contact with the public. This would mean, for example, continuing to complete Authority and Instruction forms remotely, although the availability of couriers for non-essential business in Alert Level 3 should help to ease some of the pressure where parties do not have printers available.”
The MBIE website notes that: “People can move homes at Alert Level 3. This includes rental moves. They can travel between regions, including using domestic air services for the purposes of moving house. All freight can be moved around the country at Alert Level 3, and moving companies can operate so long as they do so safely.
“Where possible, the physical interactions involved in house sale, purchase and settlement should be done remotely at Alert Level 3. It may be possible to do a final pre-settlement inspection in person, or have a real estate agent come into the home, as long as all physical distancing and public health measures are taken.”