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It’s too late to meet the stamp duty holiday, say solicitors

14 December 2020 | General

Solicitors have warned people that it’s increasingly unlikely that they will beat the stamp duty deadline on 31 March.

David Greene, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, said many factors are limiting the speed of moves – delays in the issuing of search results, delays in mortgage offers being issued, as well as problems in the chain and with dependent transactions.

Greene said: “Solicitors are working under pressure around the clock to help their clients move – both in time for Christmas and ahead of the SDLT deadline.

“The next few weeks are going to be very busy with people wanting to complete their desired move before Christmas and our members know an even busier and more stressful time awaits them up to the end of March.

“Consumers must recognise that it is increasingly unlikely that if they sell/buy their house now, that they will complete by the 31 March deadline.

“The solicitor is often the last link in the move, and it is only when the solicitor has all the pieces, which they are dependent on obtaining from others, that buyers and sellers can move.”

The end of the tax holidays also coincides with the Easter holidays period – a popular time to move.

Green added: “It is important that law firms prepare in advance for the avalanche of work that conveyancers are likely to face as the deadline approaches.

“Firms should manage the expectations of new clients hoping to move before the SDLT holiday ends and support must also be provided to solicitors whose mental health is under strain as they work long, unsociable hours.

“Solicitors are struggling to cope with the large volume of emails and telephone calls from clients and estate agents all of whom are understandably anxious to know the current position, but the time spent dealing with such enquiries prevents solicitors from progressing matters.

“We raised this issue with the UK government in October and again in November urging them to ameliorate the 31 March deadline.

“Options to achieve that could include extending the deadline or introducing appropriate transitional arrangements in order to help release the growing pressure on the conveyancing system, on buyers and sellers and on solicitors.”

This post has originally been featured in Property Wire.