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2 April 2020

Covid-19 - House settlement advice

If you have a sale or purchase transaction in progress and you are due to complete settlement in the next few weeks (or while New Zealand remains at Covid-19 Alert Level 4), please note the following:
  • The banks are remaining open and as our SRB team can work remotely we can complete settlements remotely, as well as undertaking legal due diligence and other matters.
  • While we may not be able to meet face to face, we can continue to conduct client meetings using technology rather than in person and will (where we legally can) attend to signing of legal documents via video conferencing too.  If you do not have a printer, we can in some cases, courier the documents to you for signing (as couriers are still operating).  Documents can either be scanned back or returned via courier. We can arrange that for you.
  • If you are vacating your property and/or moving into another one, we understand from recent developments that as moving house is not an essential service:
    • Moving companies will not be operating; and
    • Any physical movement is likely to be a breach of the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown.

If physical movement is required in order for the vendor to provide vacant possession on settlement, the general recommendation from the Property Law Council and the Law Society is that the parties should agree to defer settlement until 10 working days following the date the Government reduces the Covid-19 Alert Level to Level 2 or below (although there are other options such as the vendor agreeing to rent the property back from purchaser after settlement).  However, each situation will be different and there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach.  Some settlements will be able to proceed during the lockdown period, particularly where the sale involves:

  • Vacant land; and
  • Tenanted properties. 

This is an evolving situation and things are changing on a daily basis. This is unprecedented for NZ and the legal profession.  There are a number of committees and individuals trying to work through how this will play out but we can only take it day by day.

We will provide more updates as we receive them from the Property Law Council and the Law Society.

If you have any questions or concerns about how Covid-19 is impacting you or your business then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the SRB Property team.


The above information is of a general nature only. The information contained in this document does in no way constitute legal advice and all readers should contact a law firm for advice relating to your specific circumstances.

Janna Robinson

About Janna Robinson

Janna is a member of our Property Team. She advises property developers and private clients on a wide range of property matters, including subdivisions and commercial developments.

View all posts by Janna Robinson