Unlike previous Help To Buy schemes, conveyancing solicitors are to have a direct role in in obtaining bonus funds from the government.

Since 1 December 2015, first-time buyers have been able to start saving to qualify for a bonus by putting savings into a Help to Buy ISA account. Solicitors and conveyancers can register for the scheme from January 2016.

The solicitor or conveyancer will make the application for the bonus on behalf of the client, confirm the client’s eligibility to receive the bonus and that the property being purchased meets the eligibility criteria. This involves submitting the relevant documentation, including a payment request, and applying the bonus funds towards the purchase of the property.

Solicitors and conveyancers may charge the client up to a cap of £50 plus VAT to fulfil their role as part of the scheme.

Solicitors and conveyancers can register for the scheme from the first week in January 2016. They will need to agree to comply with the Help to Buy: ISA Scheme Rules and the Conveyancer Guidelines, through the conveyancer adherence agreement.

Savers can cash in their bonus from February 2016. However, it is unlikely that many savers will want to claim their bonus this early as they will want to claim the most bonus as possible. The online portal, through which a conveyancer can make a bonus application, will be open from 31 March 2016.

Individuals will be able to save up to £200 a month and savers can deposit an initial sum of up to £1,200. The amount of the bonus paid to any individual’s property purchase will depend on the amount of money saved by them, with the minimum bonus payable being £400 and the maximum being £3,000. The bonus will be available on home purchases of up to £450,000 in London and up to £250,000 outside London.

Useful dates

  • The launch date of the Help to Buy: ISA Scheme is 1 December 2015.
  • The last date for a Help to Buy: ISA Holder to join the Help to Buy: ISA Scheme is 30 November 2019.
  • Conveyancers can register for the Scheme from January 2016.
  • The first eligible bonus application can be paid on 1 February 2016.
  • The online Help to Buy: ISA portal is available from 31 March 2016.