Solicitors’ leaders say members of their industry are suffering mental health problems as a result of the workload to meet the March 31 stamp duty deadline.
They are also urging house movers to have realistic expectations about whether they will or will not complete their transactions ahead of the looming deadline.
“Solicitors are working under pressure around the clock to help their clients move both in time for Christmas and ahead of the SDLT deadline” says Law Society of England president David Greene.
He insists 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.”
Greene says the Law Society has lobbied the government twice on this issue in recent months, urging some kind of extension to cope with the workload.
“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 or buy their house now, that they will complete by the March 31 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.”
Greene says the conveyancers are limited in their ability to act by the information they get from other sources, also under pressure - delays in the issuing of search results, delays in mortgage offers being issued, problems in the chain and with dependent transactions.
He adds that these are usually outside the control of the conveyancer.
“It is important that law firms prepare in advance for the avalanche of work that conveyancers are likely to face as the deadline approaches” urges Greene.
“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.”