Solicitors ‘under pressure’ as stamp duty deadline looms

The Law Society suggested professionals may need to manage their clients’ expectations around completing deals in time.

Stamp Duty
Stamp Duty

Stressed solicitors have been working late nights and weekends to help home movers beat a stamp duty holiday deadline, according to the Law Society.

With just a few weeks to go before the deadline for the full stamp duty concession, professionals may need to manage their clients’ expectations around completing deals in time, it said.

The stamp duty holiday was extended in the March Budget and once the June 30 deadline passes, a new tapered rate will come into force and run from July to the end of September.

The current “nil rate” stamp duty band is £500,000, but from July 1 it will shrink to £250,000 and from October 1 it will revert to its normal level of £125,000.

Stamp duty applies in England and Northern Ireland, and in Wales the current land transaction tax concession – the equivalent of stamp duty – will end on June 30.

The Law Society has published new guidance for conveyancing solicitors, covering managing clients’ expectations and offering practical suggestions for dealing with transactions.

For England, the tips include informing clients of the tapering arrangement that will come into force from July 1, and trying to make sure they have realistic expectations of the impact of not making the June 30 deadline.

Clients should also be aware that the solicitor is often the last link in the process, and it is only when the solicitor has all the pieces from others that buyers and sellers can move, the tips suggest.

Home movers may also want to take tax advice and start calculating the likely post-June 30 stamp duty now, the Law Society advised.

“We understand the terrific pressure that conveyancers are under ahead of the June 30 deadline, pressure that many solicitors have now been under for some time as they continue to work under the most challenging circumstances,” Law Society of England and Wales president Stephanie Boyce said.

“Stressed and under-pressure solicitors have been working late into the night and over weekends, with little or no work/life balance, to ensure their clients’ transactions are able to complete according to their wishes.

“It is key at this stage for conveyancing solicitors to take steps to manage their clients’ expectations about completing in time to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday.

“Many factors limiting the speed of a move – delays in the issuing of search results, delays in mortgage offers being issued, problems in the chain and with dependent transactions – are usually outside the control of the conveyancer. They cannot guarantee transactions will complete before the end of June.”

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