We remain open for business, although the doors are closed. We have arrangements in place to ensure we are able to continue looking after you in this difficult time. Our telephone lines are still open but please be patient if you cannot get through immediately, as we are receiving more calls than usual. We are arranging meetings by SKYPE or other online platforms.
We will update you with developments about all the services that we offer and how this might affect you.
8th July 2020
From today, the Stamp Duty (SDLT) threshold has been increased from £125,000 to £500,000 until 31st March 2021.
It’s a mixed bag for those who already own a property. The 3% higher rate still applies for purchases of additional dwellings on top of revised standard rates.
A link to the HMRC update can be found HERE
13th May 2020
From today, anyone in England can move home, as long as they follow amended guidance (Here) published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Earlier guidance warned buyers and sellers to delay completion until lockdown ends.
Housing minister, Robert Jenrick said: ‘Our clear plan will enable people to move home safely covering each aspect of the sales and letting process from viewings to removals.’
8th April 2020
Transactions are still continuing, particularly those involving the sale of empty properties or those in which clients currently reside such as right to buy. One cause of delay in the Newcastle area is that the Council has closed, temporarily, the department that deals with the local authority searches. Such a search would reveal planning matters, building regulation approvals, enforcement, road adoption or plans for other roads or rail infrastructure. Some of the information can be obtained from other sources or in some cases insurance cover can be obtained to protect against the lack of a search.
The Courts will now prioritise children related matters. Disputes involving resolving financial matters will be given less priority. There are ways to speed up the process in the event mediation or negotiation does not resolve the problem. In particular, arbitration remains a very suitable alternative and in many cases is preferable than relying on the court. Click HERE to be taken to our page about ARBITRATION.
27th March 2020
Firstly, the government discourages house moves. That was predictable and simply reflects that moves are being delayed as many businesses, such as surveyors and removers, are not able to work at present. This is a delay of your transaction, not the end of it. Please read the advice on 26th March about making sure you’re ready for the surge.
Secondly, there is some concern that Barclays Bank and the Lloyds Banking Group, including Halifax may have withdrawn all their mortgage offers to current customers. If that were true, current transactions involving a mortgage with such a lender would require the borrower to look for other lending.
It seems, however, that the banks have simply withdrawn some of their products rather than offers already made. They seem to be the higher risk products.
The report is as follows –
“Halifax and Barclays have withdrawn many mortgages from sale this week, making it harder for borrowers with lower equity or deposits to get a new deal, as the impact of coronavirus starts to spread to the housing market.
Halifax has taken the biggest step and temporarily pulled most deals it sells through brokers. Deals with a loan-to-value (LTV) of above 60% offered through Halifax Intermediaries, Scottish Widows Bank and BM Solutions – which are all part of Lloyds Banking Group – have been withdrawn, for both buyers and people remortgaging. You can still apply for a mortgage with a higher LTV if going direct.
Meanwhile, Barclays has withdrawn the majority of its mortgage deals above 60% LTV for purchase by new buyers. That means to get a Barclays deal if you’re buying a home you’ll now need a minimum deposit of 40%.
It comes as a number of smaller building societies have also capped their LTVs in the past few days at levels lower than they were pre-coronavirus“.
26th March 2020
Whilst many transactions have been delayed due to the current lockdown, there is likely to be a surge of completions once we are unlocked. It might be a good idea now to check with your removal companies if they can agree provisional bookings in, say, 3 – 4 weeks.
Don’t forget also that if you are buying, you will be responsible for the property from the date you exchange contracts. That can be days, if not weeks, before completion, when you collect the keys. It would be a good time to obtain insurance quotes now in readiness to put them on cover when you are ready.
If you are buying a property using some of your own funds, or gifted money, don’t forget to gather together the proof of funds so that you comply with Money Laundering Regulations. It is important that you provide evidence of source of funds for the previous 6 months. Check the first long letter that we sent you for further information.
25th March 2020
Arrangements For Children
The President of the Family Division inevitably gave guidance, beyond the governement’s views, on what the Courts will consider when faced with decisions as to where children should live in the current difficulties. The President clearly recognises that all family circumstances are different but goes further by giving useful general guidanceas referred to below.
During the current Coronavirus Crisis some parents whose children are the
subject of Child Arrangements Orders made by the Family Court have been
understandably concerned about their ability to meet the requirements of these
court orders safely in the wholly unforeseen circumstances that now apply.
This short statement is intended to offer advice but, as the
circumstances of each child and family will differ, any advice can only be in the
most general form.
responsibility for a child who is the subject of a Child Arrangements
Order [‘CAO’] made by the Family Court rests with the child’s parents and
not with the court.
country is in the middle of a Public Health crisis on an unprecedented
scale. The expectation must be that parents will care for children by
acting sensibly and safely when making decisions regarding the
arrangements for their child and deciding where and with whom their child spends
Parents must abide by the ‘Rules on Staying at Home and Away from Others’
issued by the government on 23 March [‘the Stay at Home Rules’]. In
addition to these Rules, advice about staying safe and reducing the spread
of infection has been issued and updated by Public Health England and
Public Health Wales [‘PHE/PHW’].
Stay at Home Rules have made the general position clear: it is no longer
permitted for a person, and this would include a child, to be outside
their home for any purpose other than essential shopping, daily exercise,
medical need or attending essential work.
guidance issued alongside the Stay at Home Rules on 23rd March
deals specifically with child contact arrangements. It says:
“Where parents do not live in the
same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’
This establishes an exception to the mandatory ‘stay at home’
requirement; it does not, however, mean that children must be moved between homes.
The decision whether a child is to move between parental homes is for the
child’s parents to make after a sensible assessment of the circumstances,
including the child’s present health, the risk of infection and the
presence of any recognised vulnerable individuals in one household or the other.
generally, the best way to deal with these difficult times will be for
parents to communicate with one another about their worries, and what they
think would be a good, practical solution. Many people are very worried
about Coronavirus and the health of themselves, their children and their
extended family. Even if some parents think it is safe for contact to take
place, it might be entirely reasonable for the other parent to be
genuinely worried about this.
parents, acting in agreement, exercise their parental responsibility to
conclude that the arrangements set out in a CAO should be temporarily
varied they are free to do so. It would be sensible for each parent to
record such an agreement in a note, email or text message sent to each
parents do not agree to vary the arrangements set out in a CAO, but one
parent is sufficiently concerned that complying with the CAO arrangements
would be against current PHE/PHW advice, then that parent may exercise
their parental responsibility and vary the arrangement to one that they
consider to be safe. If, after the event, the actions of a parent acting
on their own in this way are questioned by the other parent in the Family
Court, the court is likely to look to see whether each parent acted reasonably
and sensibly in the light of the official advice and the Stay at Home
Rules in place at that time, together with any specific evidence relating
to the child or family.
either as a result of parental agreement or as a result of one parent on
their own varying the arrangements, a child does not get to spend time
with the other parent as set down in the CAO, the courts will expect
alternative arrangements to be made to establish and maintain regular
contact between the child and the other parent within the Stay at Home
Rules, for example remotely – by Face-Time, WhatsApp Face-Time, Skype,
Zoom or other video connection or, if that is not possible, by telephone.
The key message should be that, where
Coronavirus restrictions cause the letter of
a court order to be varied, the spirit of
the order should nevertheless be delivered by making safe alternative
arrangements for the child.
The Rt. Hon. Sir Andrew McFarlane
President of the Family Division and
Head of Family Justice
24 March 2020