New HIPs rules described as 'sadistic torture' but petition is rejected by Government

25 February 2009 / by Rachel Mason
The Government has rejected a petition calling for it to drop plans to tighten the rules surrounding Home Information Packs (HIPS).

So far, 1694 people have signed the petition - instigated by HIPS critic and former president of the National Association of Estate Agents Trevor Kent - which calls on the Government not to change the rule that allows sellers to put their homes on the market before receiving their HIP, provided they have either paid for the pack or committed to do so.

After April 5 2009, owners and estate agents who start advertising a home, put up a 'For Sale' sign or prepare flyers before the HIP is available to potential buyers will face a £200 fine from trading standards officers.

Mr Kent says that the amount of time it takes for HIPs to arrive is the main reason for his opposition to the new rules.

The Government has conceded that it will always be a minimum of three days, but Mr Kent says it is closer a week in most cases and this simply isn’t good enough for sellers or buyers.

"I am sorry, but estate agents know that the average return time for a HIP is currently more like 7 days for a simple property and twice that for non-registered and Leasehold homes," he said.

"Furthermore, these delays are without the additional complicated Property Information Questionnaire which is to be added to the basic HIP from April 5, and which has not even been trialled yet, some sellers will wait weeks."

Mr Kent, a practising estate agent who has been opposed to HIPs from the start, says these new rules 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.

"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".

In response to the campaign and to explain its reasoning for rejecting the petition, the Government said, "There is no evidence to support the assertion that removal of the temporary first day marketing concession will have a negative impact on the housing market.

"Industry feedback reports that the ‘basic HIP’ is now available on average within three to five days so sellers should not experience undue delay in putting their property on the market."

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