The Head of Property at one of the region’s leading law firms has welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement of a temporary COVID-19 suspension of the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) payable on all residential property purchases up to £500,000 in England, but warns that the Welsh government needs to follow suit.
SDLT rates in England and Wales have always differed, but with offices in both England and Wales and many clients on the borders, Richard Lloyd, a partner of GHP Legal, says without a level playing field the SDLT cuts in England could instigate an influx of house sales led purely by regional benefits.
“As well as checking the tax differences either side of the border”, he says, “people also need to be aware of the situation regarding the purchase of second homes and Buy to Let properties. As yet there is no change in Wales, and whilst buyers in these categories will benefit from the SDLT tax cuts in England, they will still have to pay the additional 3% levy previously applied to such purchases.
“As soon as the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions eased we saw an immediate rise in the number of enquiries for conveyancing. Now we expect that number to rise again sharply as people will be keen to move home before the end of March 2021, in order to make the SDLT saving before the scheme closes.
“It is fortunate the announcement has come at a time when businesses and lives are starting to return to some kind of normality, though for us as a law firm, work has never stopped, albeit we have had to adopt different ways of working.
“Throughout the COVID lockdown we were still able to offer advice and carry out the legal work associated with buying and selling homes. It has been, and to a degree still is, more difficult however for estate agents and surveyors, but I think everyone without exception has welcomed the news this week about SDLT cuts in England.”