Do buyers have a right to early access?

We are selling our run-down family home to pay the fees for our mother’s care home. The buyers know the house will be empty soon and even though we have not exchanged contracts they want access for their workmen. What are our options?
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Question: My sister and I have power of attorney for our mother and are moving her into a residential care home and selling her house to pay the fees. The property is our old family home and is quite large, but run-down.
The buyers know that the house is going to be empty soon and have started hassling us about having access to it for them and their workmen. We have not even exchanged contracts and my sister and I are finding their pushy attitude quite upsetting. We cannot afford to put off the buyers, but do not want them having access at this stage. What options do we have?
Answer: It is entirely up to you whether you allow the buyers access into the property prior to completion. If you have selling agents, ask them to explain your situation to the buyers.

Some sellers, particularly if a property is unoccupied, allow buyers into it between exchange of contracts and completion to get estimates for works to be done, and to measure up for carpets and curtains and the like.
If this is something you may be prepared to entertain, discuss it with your solicitor so that such access can be on a formal basis.
Your solicitor can find out from the buyers’ solicitors why access is needed between exchange and completion and can prepare a key undertaking. The buyers would have to sign that and it would confirm the basis upon which they are allowed into the property and the purpose for which access is being granted.
It would also deal with such matters as insurance and for the return of the key at the end of each day.
There could also be a clause in the contract dealing with access arrangements between exchange and completion.
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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona is legal director in the real estate group of Foot Anstey LLP in Exeter (
These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

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