Stamp Duty Holiday ends – huge potential for disputes
The housing market is charging towards the end of June 2021 with many buyers and sellers hoping to complete their transactions before the stamp duty rules change. This in turn is creating a huge demand in booking removal firms and certainly in the last couple of weeks of June will place significant strain on the banking system as money is being transferred electronically up and down chains.
Agreeing a June completion date on exchange of contracts and particularly a date towards the end of June carries with it the potential for a lot of extra dispute. Once the completion date is fixed and contracts have been exchanged on that basis – both the buyer and seller are legally committed to comply. If one party cannot complete on the required date, there is a process by which Notice is given demanding completion take place. If it is the buyer who fails to complete and cannot do so within the Notice period; the seller can retain the deposit.
In the vast majority of cases where something does delay completion; it is mainly only by several days and the loss claimed tends to consist of interest on the delayed payment, additional removal fees and possibly some hotel expenses.
The loss will be significantly higher however if the delay takes a completion from just before the stamp duty change to just after. Additional stamp duty will then apply and that could be a significant unexpected sum to find. The duty change after 30 June 2021 is that that the 0% threshold drops from £500,000 to £250,000 on completions from 1 July 2021 to 30 September 2021. From 1 October 2021 it will return to the standard amount of £125,000.
If your Removal company lets you down, or you cannot book any removers at short notice – you at least have the option of hiring a lorry and trying to do it yourself; getting your household goods into storage etc.
If it is the banking system that cannot cope with the demand for transfers of money – that is wholly outside the control of both buyer/seller and their respective conveyancing solicitors.
A completion that cannot take place on the required date will generally have a knock on effect up and down the property chain. The contractual responsibility remains with the buyer and seller. Claims on late completion will inevitably include additional stamp duty as it is plainly a foreseeable loss if a buyer cannot complete in June when anyone involved in a transaction at this time is only too well aware of the importance of the 30 June 2021.
All conveyancing solicitors can do is get the money in the banking system once it arrives with them. They cannot make it arrive at the other end on time.
Anyone involved in a property transaction that is due to complete in June should be aware of the risk that despite the best efforts of all concerned, completion might not take place until early July.
Arguments over who is entitled to sue who and for what, about late completion will not just be a matter of £500-£600 for those who are unfortunate enough to find completion occurs in July when the completion date was supposed to be June.
This reflects the law at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought as appropriate in relation to a particular matter.
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We are solicitors in Camberley, Wokingham and London. In 2019, Herrington Carmichael won ‘Property Law Firm of the Year’ at the Thames Valley Business Magazines Property Awards, ‘Best Medium Sized Business’ at the Surrey Heath Business Awards and we were named IR Global’s ‘Member of the Year’. We are ranked as a Leading Firm 2020 by Legal 500 and Alistair McArthur is ranked in Chambers 2020.