A huge increase in property sales, brought about by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak’s stamp duty holiday, has led to unprecedented pressure on removals companies, with accusations of ‘gazumping’ in the industry.

As homeowners struggle to move house before the holiday’s deadline of 30 June, desperate buyers are offering double the usual fees to secure a removal company, it is claimed. Businesses are demanding 60% deposits from movers and unscrupulous firms are taking multiple bookings or leaving customers high and dry, if a better offer comes in.

Ian Studd, director general of the British Association of Removers, said: “There is huge demand at present and a lot of my members, regulated firms, are having to ask for non-returnable upfront deposits of up to 60 per cent to accept a booking.

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“I’ve heard about buyers so desperate to find a moving company they are willing to pay double. There are also cowboys out there. This is an unregulated industry with an enormous black market of so-called moving companies demanding cash in hand.”

The Chancellor launched the stamp duty holiday last July. It was set to run until the end of March 2021. However, the deadline was extended until June following the high levels of demand it generated. The tax-free holiday applies to the purchase of main homes worth up to £500,000. From July until the end of September the holiday will apply to the first £250,000 of a purchase, before reverting to the pre-pandemic threshold of £125,000.

An average three-bedroom house move requires a large removal lorry plus a van. According to Ian Short, removal firms are struggling to find enough vehicles and storage space to meet current demand and customers should check the credentials of any firm they employ. “We are hearing stories every day. But our members can’t just magic up more trucks and men to meet the demand. Consumers need to be aware [of] what is going on and check who they are dealing with.”

Read more about this story in the Daily Mail.