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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.

    Bryan Mansell



    I’ve read this vile post, previously. It disgusted me then and it disgusts me now. Such a pig-ignorant post by the grenade-thrower Faizey. It is not the conveyancers fault if the client is caught by one or more of the many factors which are TOTALLY outside the Conveyancers’ control. Lawyers are warning clients at the outset that the job will almost certainly be delayed and/or stressful. It might not complete at all. The buyer may have to find £thousands for SDLT. Yes, Mutt, that’s just the way it is. Stop whining and try to help to manage your own cashcows’ expectations.

  • 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.

    Bryan Mansell

    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.

  • Bryan Mansell

    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.


    Wow, so much vitriol and lack of empathy here! I agree bulk/volume conveyancers give conveyancing a bad name. But this is not individual conveyancers' fault. It is ultimately a business model which puts profits first - taking on 'conveyancing executives' /'property lawyers' or whatever they want to call them who are unqualified and often have no experience because they are cheap labour. They are not paid well contrary to what some are saying. Quite the opposite. There is often poor management, with managers often having no qualifications and little to no experience of conveyancing. Fee earners are being left to deal with things that should be passed to experienced conveyancers which causes delays and frustration to clients and conveyancers on the other side.

    The current status quo has also exacerbated the issues as more staff have had to be taken on who are inexperienced, and dealing with volumes which have never been experienced before. This because the industry is experiencing a perfect storm of events from the huge backlog of transactions from the first lockdown when moving was put in hold, people deciding to move to the country for example because they recognise the need for open space and are now able to work from home, the stamp duty holiday, and the industry from lenders to conveyancers thrown into working from home with systems that are in some cases just inadequate. This means conveyancers are trying to cope with unprecedented volumes in unprecedented circumstances, many working 14 hours a day and more and weekends under constant stress and often abuse because understandably clients want assurances that they will be completing by 31st March. Assurances that just cannot be given because of the various links in the process outside of their control. But the constant updating slows things down as the 'real work' cannot be done. That then causes further delays resulting in more calls, emails etc. Which slows up the process even more resulting in more calls, emails etc... Causing frustration all round and huge amounts of stress.

    It is stressful for the whole industry at the moment including agents, lenders and conveyancers . They are all people. It is not right or fair to say one person is more important than another, or even that one person is suffering more stress than an other. No-one can say that as we can only see from our own perspective and stress affects people differently.

    And yes clients are important but so are all the individuals in the process who are trying their damnedest to help their clients to complete asap.

  • 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.

  • Daniel Hamilton-Charlton

    IF Estate Agents did more to package up sale transaction better AND conveyancers were actually left alone to do their job, things would be much less stressful.

    The property industry still fails to believe that a conveyancer left alone is far more capable than one being chased all day and being held accountable for the updates to agents rather than their ability to get a file progressed.
    I know, let's employ a bank of sales progressors to make even more noise and promote self importance when the work is actually being done by someone qualified to do it, or not because they are not being left alone long enough to do so.

    Everyone, get a grip, stop throwing stones in your glass houses and see what can be done to make things better rather than blaming everyone!!
    it is getting very tiresome and, more importantly, the bickering and blaming is doing nothing to help the home mover, which more than one person has heralded as being the most important party.

    SO what are YOU actually doing to change things?

    From a suppliers point of view, those that are shouting the most vitriol are the ones less likely to adopt any change because they believe that there is nothing more that they can do, despite there being plenty that they could have done.

    This perfect storm is showing the cracks and those acknowledging them and becoming capable of change and diversification to benefit clients and shorten SSTC timescales will prevail. Those that continue to shout and blame are not welcome to survive.

    I am very pro estate agent, but even more pro 'best practice'.


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