Gibson Sheat
Published on
20 April 2020

The escalation to Alert Level 4 of New Zealand’s COVID-19 alert system created a number of obstacles for property transactions and has resulted in many property settlements being deferred.  The recent announcement that New Zealand will move to Alert Level 3 at 11:59 pm on Monday, 27 April means that more property transactions may now take place.

The settlement of property transactions often requires the movement of people. If a property is occupied, then the occupant must usually move out so that the purchaser can take vacant possession. At Level 4 it was not possible in most circumstances for people to move from their current place of residence. 

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment have now clarified that moving house will be allowed at Alert Level 3. People will be allowed to travel between regions, including using domestic air services, for the purposes of moving house, and moving companies will be allowed to operate as long as they do so safely and meet all public health guidelines.

There is an expectation that, where possible, the physical interactions involved in house sale, purchase and settlement will be done remotely at Alert Level 3. Meeting with your lawyer will need to take place remotely, and we are well-placed to facilitate these meetings. Pre-purchase inspections may be possible in person at Alert Level 3, provided physical distancing and public health measures are adhered to. 

If you have already negotiated a deferral of settlement based on a return to Alert Level 2, which was the recommended position of the Property Law Section of the New Zealand Law Society, then that remains contractually binding. If you have an existing agreement and consider that you are in a position to settle at alert level 3 then you should discuss this with your lawyer. 

If you are in the process of buying or selling a property, please contact one of our property team to discuss your specific situation.


James Wilkinson   email James   P: 04 916 6305
Aimee McGowan   email Aimee   P: 04 916 6445
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Marie Colling   email Marie   P: 04 916 7484
Robyn Garrow   email Robyn   P: 04 916 7700
Belinda Amrein   email Belinda   P: 04 916 7466
Julie Millar   email Julie   P: 06 370 6478
Lisa Searle   email Lisa   P: 06 929 7432
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Michelle Williams   email Michelle   P: 06 370 6470
Sam McEnhill   email Sam   P: 06 929 7431