Finance News

Conveyancers Urge Osborne to Scrap Stamp Duty Plans

Em Morley - March 11, 2016

Conveyancers have spoken out against the Stamp Duty changes that are set to be implemented on 1st April, urging Chancellor George Osborne to scrap or modify the plans.

Osborne is due to reveal the final details of the Stamp Duty changes in next week’s Budget, on 16th March. This would leave conveyancers with just nine working days in which to enforce the new tax system.

Yesterday, the UK’s largest conveyancing firm, My Home Move, revealed further evidence that suggests a boom in the buy-to-let sector and second home market.

Now, the Conveyancing Association has urged Osborne to favour stability over continual change regarding the housing market and mortgage industry.

The association says that there has been a surge in buy-to-let transactions, which has stretched all those involved in the property sector and “placed an unnecessary burden on conveyancers to meet an artificial deadline”.

It also claims that there is a high amount of uncertainty surrounding key parts of the change, such as exemption for larger landlords purchasing 15 or more properties in one transaction.

Conveyancers Urge Osborne to Scrap Stamp Duty Plans

Conveyancers Urge Osborne to Scrap Stamp Duty Plans

From 1st April, buy-to-let landlords and second homebuyers will be charged an extra 3% in Stamp Duty on properties worth over £40,000.

The Chairman of the Conveyancing Association, Eddie Goldsmith, says: “Unsurprisingly, the conveyancing market is looking for a period of stability, but I suspect we won’t be getting that post-next week’s Budget.

“The publication of the final rules for extra Stamp Duty charges on additional properties will be made available, and one can’t help think there is likely to be some considerable confusion around them, not forgetting that the conveyancing industry will have to cope with these changes from the start of April.

“The small amount of time this provides firms to ready themselves and to ensure all stakeholders in the market are clear on these new rules is, quite frankly, ludicrous.”

He continues: “Not only would we like to see these additional Stamp Duty charges dropped, or at the very least watered down, but we feel any further change in the UK housing market, unless positively focused on areas like helping to increase property supply or supporting first time buyers, will only add to the instability we – and many others – will have to cope with.

“We believe the Chancellor should allow the market time to breathe; in our view, it is much better served by supporting steady transaction numbers, rather than the artificially-created spikes that have been far too prevalent.

“The last three months of increased buy-to-let transactions have been a case in point.”

He concludes: “Instead, we would like to see the status quo post-April maintained and allow us to plan and prepare our resources adequately based on the market itself, rather than deal with further uncertainty generated by ongoing intervention.”1 

Conveyancers have previously expressed concern over the short timeframe between the Budget and the implementation of the Stamp Duty surcharge: /conveyancers-express-concern-over-short-timeframe-between-budget-and-stamp-duty-change/

Additionally, Paul Saunders, the Head of Residential Conveyancing at Conveyancing Association member firm Shakespeare Martineau, has expressed his thoughts.

He believes: “The conveyancing industry and indeed buy-to-let landlords need some clarity from the Government on the Stamp Duty changes for buy-to-let properties.

“There remain many unanswered questions and the benefits/burden is difficult to interpret for all parties. On a similar vein, I hope that the Government will not continue its trend to disincentivise buy-to-let landlords, as we do not know until after 1st April what damage this could cause to the housing market.”

He adds: “One key subject I would like to see addressed is the huge shortage of housing. The National Housing Federation estimated 974,000 homes were needed between 2011 and 2014, with figures from councils showing only 457,000 actually built.

“With over 11m people over the age of 55, new housing needs to reflect the changing demographic and I look forward to hearing concrete plans from the Government regarding housing development.”1 

1 http://www.todaysconveyancer.co.uk/conveyancing-association-hopes-for-stability-for-in-next-week-s-budget-cms-16054