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New HIP legislation is "quite mad"

24 March 2009 / by Rachel Mason
Former president of the Association of Estate Agents, Trevor Kent, has branded the new legislation surrounding Home Information Packs "quite mad."

From April 6th 2009, all homes must have a Home Information Pack (HIP) in place – not just ordered – before it can be put on the market.

Currently, as long as the estate agent or private seller has ordered a HIP, they may carry out marketing on the property straight away.

But from April 6th, this will be an offence, and no adverts, sales boards or flyers advertising the sale of the property will be allowed until the HIP is available for inspection by the potential viewer; those who do not comply could be fined £200.

Sellers will now also be required to complete a new Property Information Questionnaire (PIQ) which details pre-sale information about the property, including the home's council tax band, parking arrangements, utilities and any structural alterations.

Mr Kent claims that as HIPS take at least five working days to be prepared, sellers are losing valuable time and says that the new legislation will simply add to housing and mortgage problems.

"Not content with presiding over an estimated 20 per cent fall in the value of our homes, 75,000 of them about to be repossessed, and half a million owners sleepless at night over the possibility of losing their homes, the Government charge sellers for a sales pack no one looks at, and fines them if they try to find a buyer on day one without one," he said.

Mr Kent says that the HIPs themselves are already largely ignored by potential buyers and that the same thing will happen with PIQs, claiming that sellers will be "reluctant to fill these in."

"It's all quite mad," he said, "especially when the government accepts that 98 per cent of viewers currently refuse to inspect the multi-page HIP before making an appointment to view a home, and 95 per cent don't even bother to look prior to making an offer!

"On top of this, buyers' solicitors say they will not accept the answers to the new Property Information Questionnaire, and already invariably ignore the Searches too, and insist their clients pay for a new set themselves."

Mike Ockenden, Director General, of AHIPP says there is "no denying that the new legislation will put increasing pressure on the pack providing industry" but denies it will cause unnecessary delays.

"Our members are turning HIPs round in an average of five days. As a result, this new legislation is unlikely to delay consumers looking to sell their home," he said, adding, "Our members are more than prepared for the changes ahead. Many have already been trialling the PIQs with their agents and are ready to embrace the new legislation."

But Mr Kent remains unconvinced. Last month he launched a petition urging the Government to drop the whole idea, but was unsuccessful.

At the time he said, "This goes beyond double whammy, past kicking owners whilst they're down and into the realms of sadistic torture. They must relent and, at the least, continue to allow marketing to begin as soon as the HIP is ordered, but preferably scrap the whole damn lot".

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