Three leading conveyancing organisations have once again called on the chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the current stamp duty holiday, which is due to expire at the end of March.
The Society of Licensed Conveyancers (SLC), the Conveyancing Association (CA) and the Bold Legal Group (BLG) who in aggregate represent law firms that undertake the majority of home sales and purchases in England and Wales, previously wrote to the chancellor in November setting out a coherent argument for extending the SDLT holiday, or at the minimum a introducing a tapering arrangement for its removal.
Since sending that letter, principally due to Covid, the extremely difficult market conditions now prevailing provide and an even stronger argument for the chancellor to take action.
Simon Law, chairperson of the SLC, said: “The spike in coronavirus infections and the third lockdown have created ever greater problems for home buyers and all the professions and industries serving them.
“With visits to properties becoming increasingly difficult, people having to revert to homeworking, consequent delays in procuring property searches, mortgage offers, mortgage redemption figures, leasehold information and property valuations, progressing transactions has become a nightmare for conveyancers. Significant delays to completing home purchases are inevitable, and there is no certainty for home buyers of completing by the March deadline to benefit from SDLT holiday.”
Lloyd Davies, operations director of the CA, commented ‘The level of property market activity is good for the economy but, compounded by the effects of Coronavirus, has created a potentially very expensive lottery for home buyers in respect of benefiting from the SDLT holiday.
“Our members phones are ringing off the hook with distraught clients worried about completing their transactions. The implications of home purchases costing thousands of pounds more than buyers have budgeted is potentially devastating. To retain the current expiry date of 31st March 2021 for removal of the SDLT holiday is simply unfair to consumers.”
Rob Hailstone, founder of the BLG, added: “Our members are seriously concerned about the impact that the ‘cliff edge’ effect of the 31st March removal of the SDLT benefit will have.
“Many of their clients are saying that they will withdraw from their purchases if they do not complete by 31st March, causing chains to collapse and seriously damaging the property market. The consequences will particularly effect those who are involved in ‘must move’ transactions.
“The attendant waste of time and money, and the impact of stress on people already struggling with the effects of Covid is entirely avoidable by the government extending the SDLT holiday and introducing a tapering off of the scheme in coming months.”
A petition calling for the government to extend the stamp duty holiday until September 2021 has now attracted more than 87,000 signatures.