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Additional COVID-19 restrictions in NSW and the impact on Conveyancing

Andrew Grima ||

As we all know additional restrictions have been put in place by the NSW Government, tightening restrictions in Greater Sydney including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour. These are already impacting on conveyancing transactions.

If you are selling your house, auctions in person are not allowed and this is already leading some to take their properties off the market. Further, you probably can’t hire a cleaner to get the house ready for display or final inspection. Restrictions indicate that cleaning is only allowed in urgent circumstances. Read more on the rules and restrictions here.

If you are settling a residential property transaction, fortunately, the restrictions allow moving to a new place of residence, considering moving as a reasonable excuse to leave your home. Read more on the rules and restrictions here.

If you are looking to buy a property, or conduct a final inspection, the restrictions allow a private inspection (which includes a final inspection) with one person only. Read more on the rules and restrictions here.

If your contract is conditional on construction, you are likely to experience delays as the NSW Government has issued a public health order stating that from 19 July 2021 work at construction sites is not to be carried out unless urgently required.  Further information on this public health order is outlined by our Building & Construction team update here. It is important that any extensions to sunset dates or completion dates are implemented in accordance with the contracts.

If you are moving interstate, the restrictions are also causing havoc, resulting in some vendors  renegotiating their contract terms for extended settlement times. Our firm like many others regularly insert COVID-19 restriction clauses in their contracts allowing Vendors to delay settlement until such a time as they can vacate. It will be interesting to see how these types of clauses may now have an impact, and could be interpreted by the legal profession in the case of dispute. It also remains to be seen for how long we will keep using them as part of our regular terms going forward.

Overall, in our experience, the legal profession, agents, vendors and purchasers have tended to work pragmatically and collaboratively to ensure transactions proceed smoothly. However in the case of those vendors and purchasers seeking to “get out” of transactions, COVID-19 restrictions may provide the avenue they need.

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