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What happens if things go wrong on moving day

Conveyancing basic process explained.

What is conveyancing: - Conveyancing is the legal transfer of home ownership from the seller to you, the buyer. The conveyancing process starts when your offer on a house is accepted and finishes when you receive the keys. 

Who does the conveyancing?

A solicitor or conveyancer usually conducts the conveyancing process, but it is possible (although difficult) to do it yourself as long as you are not taking out a mortgage.

Instructing a conveyancing solicitor

Before anything can happen, you need to find the right solicitor or conveyancer and “instruct them” to oversee the conveyancing process. You may find that online conveyancing services are cheaper and offer the advantages of online case management and online document signing and verification which can speed up the process.

Signing contracts

Since receiving the draft contract from the sellers solicitor at the start of the conveyancing process, your solicitor will have have been in correspondence with you about what is covered.

Before signing the contract your solicitor will need to ensure: -

That all enquiries have been returned and are satisfactory.

That fixtures and fittings included in the purchase are what you expected.

A completion date has been agreed between the two parties.

That you have made arrangements to transfer the deposit into your solicitors account so that it is cleared in time for an exchange. The deposit is normally 10% of the value of the property no matter what deposit you agree you are still legally liable for 10% of the value of the property if you later pull out of the agreement. 

Exchanging contracts

You and the seller will agree on a date and time to exchange contracts at any time on any given day.

Your solicitor will exchange contracts for you, which is usually done by both solicitors/conveyancers reading out the contracts over the phone (which is recorded) to make sure the contracts are identical, and then immediately sending them to one another in the post. If you are in a housing chain your solicitor/conveyancer will do the same thing, but will only release it if the other people in the chain are all happy to go ahead.

This means if one person pulls out or delays, then everyone in the chain gets held up.

Once you have exchanged contracts you will be in a legally binding contract to buy the property with a fixed date for moving which means the seller has to sell you the property. 

End of conveyancing in sight

One of the final steps in the conveyancing process involves your solicitor lodging an interest in the property, which will mean that the deeds to the property are frozen for 30 working days to allow you to pay the seller and lodge your application to the Land Registry to transfer the deeds into your name.

The seller will then move out which they normally leave this to the day of completion.

You should get organised for your moving day on the date your solicitor has agreed and informed you that you will be moving out on that agreed date.

You should get the moving date contracted so if you have booked and paid for a removals company and other services and the moving date falls through you need to be able to recover your costs from the people at fault which is mainly down to the solicitors not getting things sorted.

The solicitor will send you a statement showing the final figure to pay, which will need to be cleared into your solicitors bank account at least one day before completion.

On completion day

Completion is normally set around midday on the specified date, although in practice takes place when: -

The seller’s solicitor confirms that they have received all the money that is due.

Once this happens the seller should hand over the keys or drop the keys at the estate agents for your collection if you are not waiting at the house. Once the money has gone through the house is yours and the seller has to give you the keys if you are there.

They seller only drops them off with the estate agent if they are not going to be at the house when the money transfers or if you or your agents are not at the property to collect the keys off the seller.

This means that the conveyancing process is over, and you can move in.

What happens if you’re not ready to move on completion day?

If you are not ready to move on the day of completion you will be in breach of contract.

The contract exchanged on the day of exchange will include a pre-agreed date and time for completion day.

It is therefore extremely important you abide by this day and time.

You will disrupt your buyer if you don’t move on completion day.

Under standard conditions of sale contracts the latest time a seller should vacate a property is around 2pm.

This time can be changed by mutual agreement between the seller and the buyer.

However, if there’s a sales chain this time needs to be agree to by everyone in the chain.

What happens if the seller has not moved out on completion day?

If the seller has not moved out on completion day or has not moved out by the agreed time in the contract you need to speak with your solicitor. In this case the seller is in breach of contract. However, if your seller is slightly delayed in moving out by an hour or so you may simply need to wait.

What are the consequences of not moving on completion day?

The consequences of not moving on completion day include disruption to the buyers and their removal company. But the person who does not move out at the agreed time is potential liable to interest charges and damages.

Additional charges by the removal company: -

Removal firms have a set time to move your belongings and furniture, if this time limit is exceeded they will normally charge you for the delays.

If your removal company arrives at the house and the seller hasn’t moved out they won’t be able to move your belongings in. This will mean your stuff will have to remain in their lorries until the seller moves out.

In the worst case scenario the lorries will have to return to their depot and off-load your things.

Storage charges by the removal firm.

Most removal companies will have other removals already arranged. If they are not able to off load your belongings and furniture in time for their next removal job, they will have to off load this to a storage facility. This storage facility will be charged to you.

Additional legal fees to your solicitor.

If your solicitor has to get involved with the seller’s solicitor to get them to move out this will be charged in addition to the conveyancing fees.

If you cannot move into your new home you will have to sleep somewhere.

At this stage your own house is sold and your buyers will have moved in so your only option is to stay in a hotel unless you have family or friends nearby.

Whilst this does happen in some cases where the vendor doesn’t move out in time, it doesn’t happen too often. What can happen is there’s a slight delay where you’ll turn up at the house and the seller is finishing up moving their things. In this case simply wait for them to finally move out. Your removal company will not usually charge unless they go past 5pm.

Should you contact your solicitor if the sellers haven’t moved out?

If your sellers have not moved out by around 4-4.30pm you might want to inform your solicitor.

If you are still there after this time or past when your solicitors are closed you won’t be able to contact them.

Make sure you make contact before they close so at least your solicitor will be able to relay the problem to the seller’s solicitor to get them to move quicker informing them you will be claiming any overtime or other charges you may incur from their clients for breaching the completion contract .

Can you move out before completion day or earlier than the pre-agreed time in the contract?

You can move out before completion day if you already have somewhere to go.

If you move earlier than the time included in the contract you may have to wait for the sellers to move.

The sellers are not obliged to move out until the time in the sales contract.

You may arrive at your new house and the seller hasn’t yet moved out by the agreed time.

If this is the case do not move your belongings in to the house even though you now own it unless you agree to moving your things  with the seller. The only reason we advise you not to begin moving your things into your new house without agreement with the seller is you will get into conflict with them and it will make matters worse. You are best to avoid any conflict and keep the upper hand by finding out why things are taking so long and see if you can help speed things along because anything could have happened that you are unaware of.

Moving Options

The first thing you must understand is you are in charge of your house move not your solicitor which is why you instruct your solicitor to do the conveyancing for the legal matters required.

You do not let the solicitor start dictating to you by telling you when you will move that is your decision not theirs.

Do not let them tell you you have to move on Friday because you don't and if anything goes wrong then you are stuck over the weekend and the solicitor will not do anything until Monday.

There is no law or rule that says that you have to move on the same day you complete and i most other countries they don't move and complete on the same day as it is nothing but hassle most of the time.

What to do about moving

Get in touch with the other people in the chain or the people who you are buying off and selling to as soon as you can and build up a working relationship with them.
Once you have this in place you can all start making the solicitors get things sorted and make sure they are doing what you are paying them to do so you can be ready to complete knowing everyone is on the same page. 

You should come to an arrangement with the others and work out a formal agreement or loose contract which can be done through emails under Uk contract law. What you do is all complete then move house the following day once everything has been done and sorted or any problems that occur have been resolved.

Doing it this way makes your move a much simpler process than stressing and panicking trying to get everything sorted on the same day. You still load as normal on the completion day but you do not move until the following day so you have all day to load and clean or do what ever you need to do to your house before moving out.

You can stay in your house with the basics, just what you need for the night and the morning such as beds, tv and breakfast stuff which we come and collect the following morning.
We come at 9am as there is no stress as everything was loaded the day before leaving with just the bits to load on to the van in the morning giving you all day to move in to your new home.
By this time you should all be in the same position and all you should have to do is collect the keys. 

If there is a problem you have time to resolve it on the completion day and if it is a big problem you can all either still complete and move the following day allowing time for the others to resolve their problems. If they are unable to resolve it in time one or the other would have to go into storage which again would not be a problem as they are loaded ready to go..