Property News & Updates

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MOVEMENT OF PERSONS AND GOOD DURING LEVEL 4 LOCKDOWN

08
May
Category Updates

MOVEMENT OF PERSONS AND GOODS DURING COVID-19 LEVEL 4 LOCKDOWN

 

Much to the relief of property practitioners and members of the public throughout the country the Government has finally provided clarity on the position regarding the movement of persons and goods within the Republic during the COVID-19 level 4 lockdown.

The Directive issued by the Government on 7 May 2020 is aimed to provide guidance on the movement of persons and goods, in situations where:

1. A new lease agreement has been entered into before or during the lockdown period; or

2. Immovable property was transferred prior to the lockdown period. 

 Prior to this Directive being issued, where either of the situations envisaged above occurred, the tenant or new property owner was prevented from moving  to his or her new home, and was effectively stuck in the residence in which they were occupying when the lockdown was announced. Under the new  regulations, such a person will be permitted on a once-off basis to travel to his or her new place of residence and to transport his or her furniture and effects, during the period 7 May 2020 to 7 June 2020. 

 

  • PROCEDURE TO MOVE:

In terms of the Directive a person wanting to move to his or her new place of residence must obtain a permit from the station commander of a police station or from a person designated by such commander. To obtain the permit you will need to go to a police station with:

 

1. Details of all persons who are part of the household that will be required to move; and

2. A copy of the relevant lease agreement (which must indicate the date of expiry of the old lease and the date of commencement of the new lease); or

3. Copies of transfer documents confirming that the registration of the property has indeed gone through.

 

  • ISSUES:

Unfortunately as with a lot the Directives issued during the lockdown, it appears that there have been some omissions with regards to the practical application of the regulations. Below we will attempt to address a non-exhaustive list of such issues:

 

1. In our opinion the first issue that needs to be addressed is that whilst the Rental Housing Act requires  that an ingoing inspection needs to be done when a tenant is moving into a property, and that failing such inspection the landlord will have no future claim against a tenant for damage to the property, the Directive makes no provision for such inspection. To address this issue it is our opinion that an addendum be drawn up to each applicable lease agreement, to the effect that:

 

- The tenant must be liable to send the landlord and estate agent digital photographs of any damages to the property which he or she identifies within 7 days of taking occupation, failing which the property will be deemed to have had no damage. Such an addendum will protect the rights of all parties, and avoid      unnecessary disputes down the line.

 

2. The next issue is that the Directive is limited in scope. Whilst many members of the public are under the impression that this is essentially a blanket concession that will allow them to move into his or her new residence, this is not the case. If the property that someone wishes to take occupation of is occupied, there is no obligation on the occupant to move…and he cannot be forced to do so. The concession is to allow those who want to move, to do so.

 

At Alert Level 4 the deeds Office should be functioning, and yet according to these regulations as the stand anyone that takes transfer before 7 June will not be able to move, as the concession only allows buyers whose transfers registered before lockdown, to move. 

 

3. The final issue identified at this stage regards the operation of moving companies. It would appear that such companies are at this stage operational, although we have seen no regulation specifically allowing this. We are again hoping that this situation will be clarified as it is obviously impractical in a lot of instances for entire households to move without the aid of moving trucks etc.

Whilst the latest relaxation of the regulations is a definite positive step, it is our advice that property practitioners and members of the public ensure that they meet the requirements set out in the regulations before they start planning their move. As with all of the COVID-19 regulations we are hoping that they will be further explained in the future, and we will provide updates as and when they become available.

Article by David Campbell

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