Estate agents, conveyancers and landlords have been fighting to push through property deals ahead of new stamp duty thresholds being introduced for buy-to-let.
As of midnight last night, those buying any property that is not their main residence, including buy-to-let investors, will be hit with a 3 percentage point stamp duty surcharge.
Bold Legal Group founder Rob Hailstone told the BBC it had been “very chaotic” and “ridiculously busy” with buyers desperately trying to avoid the surcharge.
National Association of Estate Agents president said yesterday: “We’ve all got a bottleneck, and a huge amount of deals before the deadline. I’ve heard of estate agents and conveyancers staying open till 10pm, and then opening again at 5am this morning.”
The Financial Times reports solicitors themselves are unsure of the circumstances in which the surcharge applies, which has been exacerbated by the fact that details of how the levy will work in practice did not appear until the Budget.
Property law consultancy Cornerstone principal consultant David Hannah told the newspaper: “The phones have been in meltdown”.
He added: “The mechanism for determining whether a client is liable for the surcharge takes lawyers into entirely unexplored territory of having to know not only about their client, but their client’s spouse, their client’s children, their interests in any relevant dwelling or any trusts with such an interest. We had a checklist that ran to 35 points.”
The surcharge comes into effect days after the Prudential Regulation Authority suggested imposing tougher affordability and underwriting criteria on buy-to-let loans.