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Hacked! Agents see sales grind to a halt after cyber attack

Agents face a worst-case scenario as sales are frozen for 'some time' and council cannot carry out land searches.

Nigel Lewis

hackney property sales

Uproar has broken out among estate agents in a major London borough after a cyber attack on the council’s IT systems means all property sales have been put on hold.

Hackney council is no longer able to offer land searches and while normally it takes eight to ten working days to receive them, borough officials can no longer give any future dates for when existing requests will be processed or new ones accepted.

Estate agents, buyers and vendors in Hackney now face missing the stamp duty deadline and hundreds of property sales are thought to be trapped by the freeze.

It is now three weeks since it took place, but council representatives are unable to give a firm answer on when their systems will be up and running again, despite both the National Cyber Security Centre and National Crime Agency being involved.

Search indemnity

In the meantime buyers and sellers are being urged to consider search indemnity insurance or conditional sales, but Peter May of estate agency Location, Location says few of his clients have the appetite for this level of risk.

“We are already on a relatively tight timeframe because of the looming stamp duty deadline,” he told the Hackney Citizen.

“The council are not prepared to give a date as to when they will resume returning searches, so now numerous sales, probably in the hundreds, are on pause.

“Solicitors and lenders are typically cautious, so it is difficult to give people insight as to when they might be able to move. It is stressing a lot of sales.”

Read more about land searches.

November 13, 2020

One comment

  1. 8-10 working days for a search – my word you ought to trying dealing with Stratford upon Avon District Council – they are up around 8-10 weeks – and didn’t process anything during the 1st lockdown…

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