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Conveyancing Fees Spotlight – the SDLT1 Form

The Conveyancing Fees spotlight aims to take a closer look at those all to often concealed fees that appear in Solicitors ‘terms of engagement’  (or in other words the small print).

This is a relatively newcomer to the Conveyancing Fees landscape insofar as the form is a relative newcomer (2003) to the Conveyancing process.    It can often be found as an ‘extra’ on the conveyancing quote, sometimes on the quote itself and sometimes buried away in the small print.

The purpose of these Conveyancing Fees articles are to inform the consumer as to what these fees are, what your solicitor will do for these fees and how you can make absolutely sure they don’t  turn up as a nasty surprise when you get your bill.

Most home buyers will be aware that there is a Government purchase tax on most residential property over £125, 000.   This tax is known as Stamp Duty Land Tax(SDLT).

There are exemptions however and it is worth looking at the Government’s website for more details, especially if you are a first time buyer, are buying in a disadvantaged area, or are buying a zero-carbon home.

Whether or not you are liable to pay duty, you will still have to complete a form on completion of your purchase and it is you rather than your Solicitor who is legally responsible for doing so.

Can I avoid these Conveyancing Fees by completing the form myself.

You certainly can but should you?

The form itself is 7 pages long and receipt of a correctly completed copy must be within 30 days of completion of the Conveyancing transaction.   A £100 fine is applicable if it is late even if you are exempt from paying tax!  This rises to £200 after 3 months and also attracts fairly punitive interest.

More worryingly however, it is actually very complicated to understand.   I have witnessed certain Solicitors struggling with some of the terminology and questions raised let alone home buyers.

In my career as Conveyancer I have encountered more than one or two brave souls wanting to have a go at this and most have sought the help from their Solicitors after an initial stab.   One firm I worked at had a policy of charging their hourly rate (£295 per hour) when asked to bail out the client out.   (completing the form would often take the lawyer in excess of an hour so do the math!)

It is certainly now the norm for Solicitors rather than purchasers to complete it and it would seem reasonable that they would want to charge Conveyancing Fees for their time.

Some Conveyancing Fees are worth paying extra for:

With everything else you need to think about when moving home, do you really need to be on a crash course as a Solicitor?  Of course money is especially tight when moving home but my advice would be to pick your battles.   This one just isn’t worth it.

That said make sure you know exactly what Conveyancing Fees you will be charged for this.   I have seen Solicitors charge anything from £35 to £125!  Worse still buyers are often unaware of this until they get the bill!

It is not the purposes of this article to stand in judgement of firms who make a charge for this part of the process.   However I simply cannot condone the practice of hiding Conveyancing Fees in the terms and conditions and would implore any house purchaser to ask their chosen Solicitor about any concealed costs before formally instructing them.

Fridaysmove do not make any additional charge for the completion of this form and our terms and Conditions do not contain any additional Conveyancing Fees.

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