David Hannah, Founder and Principal Consultant of Cornerstone Tax discusses the current trend in property transactions and the rise in SDLT refunds

On 23 June 2020,  HMRC released its May 2020 update on the UK Property Transaction Statistics. It states that the provisional seasonally adjusted estimate of UK residential property transactions in May 2020 is 48,450, 49.6% lower than May 2019 and 16.0% higher than April 2020. For non-residential properties, the provisional seasonally adjusted estimate for transactions in May 2020 is 5,880, 42.2% lower than May 2019 and 14.1% higher than April 2020.

This comes as last week, a tax barrister reported a 285% uplift in Stamp Duty refund cases for the period of COVID-19 lockdown – March-June 2020 – compared to the same period last year.

David Hannah, Founder and Principal Consultant of Cornerstone Tax, commented on the announcement: "While the year-on-year figures look bleak, a double-digit bounce-back from April to May is a sign of residential and non-residential property market restarting again. This has been an incredibly tough period for all areas of the market but seeing 16% and 14.1% respective growth in these statistics is a positive that we hope continues into June and the rest of 2020. 

One other issue that HMRC must contend with along with property transaction numbers increasing is the rise of refund claims. Now that more people are becoming aware of this issue, both HMRC and the property legal sector must prepare themselves as this number is bound to rise. This is going to be a difficult period and legal professionals must ensure that they are fully protected against any further claims now and in the months and years to come."