I am, like many of us gradually getting used to working from my home office, mine being in the garden. I am luckier than most as it’s a nice space which I can call my own.
The important thing I am finding is to keep to a routine. For me that means to be up and ready at my desk for a regular catch up with our team, each morning, via video conference. To check in with them to see how they are coping, to have a gossip and to plan our days, to ensure we still offer you the same service which you have come to expect from us.
As we near the end of the second week of isolation, I thought I would share with you some useful information on matters which may impact on you or your wider family. Please feel free to share this email and the contents, as you see fit.
Our Holbeach Office
With most of the staff working from home now, we are still manning the office with a reduced staff so that we can deal with the post and take your calls, but in order to protect our staff and you, we would ask you not to drop in but if you have important documents you absolutely need to drop in, rather than post, please put these in our post box outside the office and they will be collected.
Our office hours have been amended considering the current situation and are now 8.45am – 4.00 pm Monday – Thursday and Friday 8.45am – 3.00pm.
Moving to a New House
If you have exchanged contracts and the property you are moving to is “vacant” you can continue with your move but need to follow the related guidance on home removals. Whilst there is no definition of vacant, we assume this means a property where the seller has previously moved out, rather than one where the seller will be vacating the property on the day of completion itself.
A statement from the British Association of Removers advises their members to cancel or postpone any move that has not yet started although this conflicts with the Government advice issued yesterday. So, this needs to be considered where parties have exchanged contracts but have not booked their removals. It also needs to be considered by those who have already booked removals. so even if a property is vacant you may have logistical difficulties in moving into it unless the removal is underway i.e. the removers have started packing. (Source Edwin Coe Solicitors 27/3/2020)
Paying Private School Fees
For clients paying school fees it looks very possible that pupils will not be returning to school before the end of the Summer term. This begs the question will parents have to pay school fees for the Summer term which are normally due at the end of April?
The Chief Executive of the Independent Schools Council has confirmed “that this is one of the issues that will be dealt with at school level, depending on individual policies and contracts with parents.”
The FT over the weekend quoted a solicitor Ellie Spencer of Goodman Derrick; “parents are paying for a service and might be able to argue that the school is not providing that service. Even if the school provides online teaching, this is not the whole service, so parents might be entitled to a discount.”
Therefore, my advice to clients is to hunt down the contract/agreement signed when the children entered the school and find out what provisions are in place. Some of the larger independents maybe in a better position to offer some form of discount or help with fees.
It’s worth noting that school fees insurance normally provides parents with cover against the loss of fees in the case of injury or illness so it’s worth checking your policy.
Clients will typically get monthly bills for private nurseries. The April bills are therefore imminent.
Again, the picture seems to be varied. Some nurseries are charging full fees. Others are offering a discount.
The advice would be to check the T&Cs signed at outset. Purnima Tanuku Chief Executive of the National Day Nurseries Association noted that “Whether parents continue to pay fees when a closure is outside a nursery’s control, will depend on the agreements between individual nurseries and their parents.”
Students will receive their loans for living costs for the Summer term as scheduled. The tuition fees will also be paid directly regardless of how any teaching will be provided.
Unite, the UK’s largest student accommodation provider said it would allow students to exit their tenancies early and they will have not to pay rent if they inform Unite that they have left or will leave by 5pm on April 10th. However, Private Landlords may expect rent to be continued to be paid. Parents acting as guarantors may therefore need to continue to pay.
Rail Season Tickets
For clients who commute, train companies are saying that annual season tickets will be refunded pro-rata but to get any money back commuters need to have at least 12 weeks remaining on the ticket. This is because they effectively get 12 weeks free travel on a season ticket. Refunds should be paid within 28 days.
For any clients using London Transport. TFL have confirmed someone needs at least 6 weeks on an annual season ticket and three days on a seven-day ticket. Apply for a refund via the TFL website.
Flights and Holidays
Having had our own holiday cancelled due to the virus outbreak, I can sympathise with anyone who has been, or is likely to be affected, by this and below is some helpful information:
- If your flight or package holiday which is scheduled before the 16th April and is cancelled, you are legally entitled to a refund and do not have to accept a voucher or credit note or be forced to rebook with your travel company.
- If FCO guidance is not to travel this means that it should be possible to claim on travel insurance.
- When flights and holidays are cancelled both airlines and travel agents are obliged to issue refunds.
- BA have confirmed that they will rebook or refund under their “manage my booking” facility. Contact the airlines but most have said please do not unless you are supposed to be travelling within the next 72 hours.
- For holidays booked after 16th April the situation is less clear and it is a case of “wait and see” at this time.
- The ‘Which’ guidance may also provide additional information and help. Link below.
Second Opinion Service
During the past few weeks, we have seen an increase in the number of calls we are receiving from friends and family members of clients who are concerned about where they stand with regard to the plans they have been making towards their retirements or just how this current market affects them. They’re unsure of what to do now. If this affects one of your family or friends, then feel free to pass on our details and we will be happy to have a no obligation chat with to see if we can help.
I hope you have found some the information in this update to be useful if so, pass it on, if not let me know!
More topical content will follow in the weeks to come, please remember we are open, we will remain open and are here to help.
If you want a chat then simply call me on 01406 424950 or drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe, stay at home, protect the NHS and your loved ones.
With kind regards