London council says buyers will miss stamp duty deadline due to delays

Hackney has become the first local authority to announce that homebuyers will be unable to complete their local authority searches in time to benefit from the stamp duty holiday which ends on 31 March 2021.

A recent cyber attack on Hackney Council has brought the local housing market to a near standstill as the council recovers from the impact of having its systems severely disrupted.

While the exact nature of the attack has not been revealed, the suspicion is that it was some sort of ransomware attack, in which the criminal probably sent softwarea via email, which when opened encrypted data and files rendering them unusable.

Despite the unfortunate cyber attack, Hackney, like many local authorities, was struggling to cope with an unprecedented rise in council property searches.

Residential property searches by local councils have surged of late, fuelled by house hunters racing to buy and beat the end of the stamp duty holiday.

Kate Bould, a managing director of Index West Midlands Property Information, described the current situation as being “without doubt, unprecedented”, but fears the increasing backlog and growing wait times for councils to process searches and information requests, poses a “real threat” that a high number of homebuyers across the country will miss out on benefitting from the stamp duty holiday.

She said: “Some councils had already positioned themselves very well and consequently have coped with the huge upturn in the market. Typically, those that have not digitised and rely on older paper-based processes are the councils that are struggling to cope, and this is causing major delays for the home-buying process.”

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  1. NickW9

    It’s inexcusable. If they can’t provide searches the buyer should be allowed to complete after the tax break ends, or the local authority should stump up the buyer’s stamp duty.

    1. AgencyInsider

      So Local Authorities have to carry the can for the consequences of the political decision by Sunak to put this SDLT ‘holiday’ in place?
      I will bet a pound to a penny that LAs were not first consulted about whether a flood of applications would overwhelm them at a time when they were likely to be understaffed and under-resourced.
      I’d blame Local Authorities for many things but this ain’t one them.    

  2. Bless You

    Difference between private and public in a nutshell.

    Private would try and make it happen.

    Public give up with  4 months to spare.

    Useless. Iam off to work for the council.#pension

    1. jan - byers

      I have done consultancy for a council; and you are 100% correct – people who would not last 5 minutes io a commercial environment

  3. Truthspeaks

    So, buyers are going to have to get mortgages with lenders that accept no search indemnity – far from ideal but it’s an option.


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