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Stamp Duty rush causing mental health issues for conveyancers

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.”

  • Matt Faizey

    the poor sausages,

    Might be worth considering the mental health issues for the public. They're more important.

    In the last three weeks;
    Sydney Mitchell responsible for leaving a family homeless for a working week. Exchange had taken place days before, and then, on completion day - nothing. Cue fully loaded vehicle being brought back to unload into store late at night. Client had to sleep on relatives living room floor for four nights. The excellent 'Wadsworths' covered his fees and are now pursuing his buyers solicitor. I have an audio interview with the client. Its interesting.

    Last Friday 2 separate poor home moverers. One told by solicitor she should 'prepare to move on Friday even though we don't know when we're exchanging' Yes, I've seen the email. This lady was later told its 'not my problem' that she is having to lay out a four figure sum to a mover to book the day. Money she can't transfer or reclaim.

    Or indeed last Friday when we have an estate agent refusing to hand over keys to our client despite completion having fully occurred. They prevaricated and lied their way through three hours. Why? So the selfish a**h&les could move themselves out in a sprinter van. Cue customer having crying children and wife. Moving day made miserable - who exactly is responsible for ensuring people know they have to be out?

    Client number 2 on Friday that I met for this Friday. Marital split. Young children. Solicitor told this lady 'this is just how it is' (again, I've seen the proof) when she asked 'how can you consider it fair that I plan the breakup of my childrens family home with merely hours notice of moving?'

    Or how about the Client ringing this office at @3pm Friday informing us that she has received an email informing her 'we're now planning on exchanging this afternoon for completion on Monday'. My good colleague here would happily regale the tale of a conversation rendered difficult as conducted through tears.

    Or the three other members of the public through the course of last week on the phone here actually crying. 'have to be out by Christmas' - 'have to be out before 18th'

    Conveyancers mental health?

    Movers are experiencing this far worse. We get the blunt end of the frustrations and we see the real fall-out emotionally of the poor public. Whose mental health isn't factored once by EA's and conveyancers happy to promote simultaneous ex&comp or indeed exchange merely a day or two in advance.

    Happy for people to not know they're moving home even on the morning they're supposed to be out. Happy to consider it fair that people suffer monstrous stress in not knowing when they're moving until a few short days before.

    And as for moving day..... Those poor conveyancers who continually blame banks.....When in truth its because of daft inconsiderate internal accounting systems that take 90 minutes to acknowledge funds and action key release. When CHAPS is almost instant.

    Movers carry on. We're good. We know we get paid to do this.

    So do you.
    So stop whining. You've all put your fees up.

    The public who are moving home are more important than any of us and they're getting skant regard for THEIR mental well-bring right now.



  • icon

    My gr grandfather was flying bombers over Germany when he was 18. That is pressure and stress. I am sick of snowflakes saying how stressed they are sitting in a warn office doing a well paid job. If it is too much for you leave and do something else.


    Mine too he was 19 at the time

  • Richard Copus

    For "mental health issues" read "stress". That's what most of us have to put up with most of the time at the moment and we live life and get on with it.

  • Algarve  Investor

    A startling lack of empathy here - I just hope none of you ever experience a serious mental health illness or severe levels of stress. There's nothing weak about it, and mental health issues are certainly not just stress - although that is a leading factor in it.

    Why do we assume that conveyancers are just robots without feelings, families or troubles? And why must everything be compared to the war? It doesn't make you a snowflake - whatever that nonsense word means - to be stressed out by an overload of work.

    It's like those who say famous sportspeople or celebrities aren't allowed to be unhappy or complain, because they have nothing to complain or be unhappy about. But mental health issues don't discriminate.

    The pandemic has shown the importance of good mental health, and a good work/life balance is absolutely part of that. We should all be doing less, with more tech at our disposal, not working ourselves to the bone because that's the way it's always been done.

  • Richard Copus

    I think the point is that we are all under stress at the moment and many of us probably have mental health issues of one degree or the other with everything that is going on. It's just that most people buckle under because there is no alternative. If conveyancing is giving such a disproportionately large number of people mental health issues there is something seriously wrong with the business model and it needs to be looked at quickly as a health and safety issue. Conveyancers are human beings like the rest of us.

    Algarve  Investor

    Agreed - I think it might be more to do with the fact that the stamp duty holiday has triggered a tsunami of demand, activity and then transactions to work through the system - a system which wasn't exactly functioning at full-speed before. It is still an antiquated system, despite the best efforts of the Land Registry and others to digitise it, and make it more efficient.

    I think the badly thought out holiday - a very hard ending on the horizon, no wriggle room, no flexibility, no tapering - is not helping matters by inflating demand and transactions to an unsustainable level. Like the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, a short-term, headline-grabbing measure that could end up doing more harm than good.

  • icon

    Overworked...please!! give me strength. This comment from someone who has probably never been a conveyancer or worked with agents. Agents are the ones who get the stress from their clients, daily, due to the lack of communication from conveyancers. This is a broken profession and conveyancers are soon to be surplus to requirements as we move towards a more digital process. last week a buyer, who had driven a contract to a 'factory conveyancer' was told they couldn't accept documents unless they were physically from Royal Mail. Kids pretending to be lawyers to fool the public.

  • icon

    What an idiot MATT FAZEY is. He typifies the ignorant self interested estate agent. The sooner that estate agent pirates are regulated the better.


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