Equity Release and COVID-19
It will come as no surprise to anyone that the situation we find ourselves in nationally due to the Coronavirus is affecting the way we, as a profession, are now having to deal with Equity Release transactions.
The normal procedure is that we would expect to see our clients face to face to go through the terms of the loan and the impact it could have on the client both at that time and in the future. This is so we can ensure that the client is fully aware of what it is they are entering into and that there is no undue influence or duress being exerted on them in any way.
Given that the majority of our equity release clients are potentially considered to be in the high risk category, there has been some difficulty for law firms to arrange to have the required face to face meetings.
The Equity Release Council has now been prevailed upon to relax the requirements with regard to face to face meetings, which now means are now able to give the necessary advice in writing, over the telephone or via electronic meetings, such as Zoom or Skype. They have, however, specified that the telephone call must be able to be heard by all the parties to the mortgage. Unfortunately, this is only for the period of time that the Nation is in lockdown.
As a firm, Tollers, have always sent our reports to our clients in writing and then arranged to meet them in person to ensure that our clients have been made fully aware of the risks they are taking. Adapting to the changes we are now beginning to work with our clients over the telephone and via electronic mediums as well.
With Equity Release Loans, the Solicitor and the client must sign something known as a Solicitor’s Certificate to confirm that we have provided the necessary advice to them. The Certificate has now been altered solely for the Covid-19 lockdown period and includes a statement from the client that they have not had a face to face meeting with their solicitor.
The only issue which we are finding with this new procedure is that the Mortgage Deed still requires an independent witness and we are not able to witness signatures via electronic means; the question then becomes how does a client, who is in self-isolation, find an independent witness when everyone is supposed to be in lockdown? This is the question we are being asked and we are ensuring that we keep up-to-date with the latest news regarding this, in order that we can facilitate our clients. We will provide further updates on this as we receive them.
If you are looking to realise equity from your home at this time and require advice or would like clarification. Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558 and our specialist conveyancing solicitors will be happy to guide you through the process. For more information on our services visit: https://www.tollers.co.uk/conveyancing-solicitors/