Q. I am currently renting and have just had my offer accepted on a house to buy and wondering when I should hand my notice in? My solicitor says it should take around six to eight weeks to complete the conveyancing and as I have to serve two months’ notice I am thinking that I should do that now to avoid having both rent and mortgage payments. Can you advise?
A. This is a tricky one because as you may already be aware the property market can be fraught with unexpected occurrences and delays. Even if everything seems like it will be plain sailing right off the bat, that can all change overnight if the seller has a change in circumstance and decides to withdraw the property from the market altogether. Unfortunately here in the UK either party can withdraw from the sale anytime up until exchange of contracts without any penalties, which can leave you in a very precarious situation if you have already served notice on your rental apartment and the Landlord has subsequently agreed a new contract with a new tenant, which is likely to be the case if you have served notice as viewings will usually commence straight away to prevent your landlord from having a void period. The purchase of a new home is heavily reliant on having two efficient solicitors that are committed to working quickly together and often if the property is a leasehold there will also be a third parties involved too such as Managing Agents and Freeholders that your sellers solicitor may be reliant on to provide information to progress the sale. All in all there is a fair amount of uncertainty surrounding time scales so my best advice is to negotiate a long completion date. That way you can buy yourself at least a month of leeway, so that you are able to serve notice once the purchase is legally binding – once Exchange of contracts has taken place. That may still leave you with a month of both rent and mortgage to pay but personally I think it’s worth the expense to prevent turmoil later on if you were to lose the property you would at least still have your rental home. I have seen tenants have to move out of their properties with all their worldly goods knowing that they cannot complete on their new home for a couple of weeks with literally nowhere to go. Personally I don’t believe that kind of stress is worth it for an extra rental payment and is for sure the only solution when entering into something with no possible way of predicting what may happen next.