COVID-19 Update from Maria Lati, Partner and Head of Residential Property

Maria Lati

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt across the globe and as a department (and the wider firm), I am extremely proud of how we have adjusted to what we now class as the “new normal”. We have at all times been available to serve our clients.

When Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the start of a period of ‘lockdown’ on 23 March 2020, naturally the opportunities for sales and purchases of residential property for both homeowners and investors was always going to pause. Thankfully, the residential property team had a suite of existing matters and on 13 May 2020, the housing market was given the green light to re-start and this saw a surge in new enquiries. You can read more in my guidance note, which is available here.

The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the importance of business resilience. Across the firm, we have embraced new and more sophisticated technology. From telephony to video conferencing facilities, our conveyancers have continued to carry out due diligence in the form of ID checks to comply with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) obligations via electronic identification and continue to comply with the obligations set out in the UK Finance Mortgage Lenders Handbook and the BSA Mortgage Instructions for lenders. The Partners are in regular dialogue with staff wellbeing at the forefront of our thought process.

We have worked closely with clients to ensure they have enough time to transfer monies as a result of restrictions to online banking limits and have advised them to check terms and conditions of specific contracts to identify late cancellation fees and so on.

Recently, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has implemented a temporary change in Stamp Duty Land Tax that will benefit both first time buyers where the value of the property is up to the value of £500,000 as well as second home buyers. Detailed information can be found here.

The residential property department are also participating in the Property Logbook scheme. This portal contains every form of documentation and information relevant to a particular property and will prove to be an invaluable tool, particularly for future activity. I recently took part in a group discussion for Today’s Conveyancer to discuss the benefits of Property Logbooks and further information can be accessed here.

Three new residential property department brochures have also been produced and can be downloaded via the links below:

Guidance Notes for Selling and Buying Residential Property

Conveyancing – Frequently Asked Questions

Remortgaging your Property

We are grateful for the tireless efforts from the NHS and keyworkers throughout the pandemic (some of which are clients) and look ahead with optimism in terms of getting back to the office and working with our peers once more.

Resilience as an individual and a business have been paramount. It truly feels that it is a year all about survival. I have welcomed the re-opening of gyms and the first spin class for months last week was tough!

If you would like to discuss a residential property matter or have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to email me or contact me directly on 020 8305 4229.