Home information packs touted by government

27 November 2003
The government included details in yesterday's Queen's Speech of the draft Housing Bill, including the introduction of home information packs.

Proposed new legislation would require sellers to put together information packs on their property - at a cost of about £600 - before they began marketing it for sale.

The measures are aimed at speeding up the home buying process, and improving housing conditions.

Under the proposed scheme the packs would be compiled by the seller or an estate agent and would include a basic survey of the property for potential buyers, local authority title searches and home condition reports.

Previously known as sellers' packs, the home information packs were a Labour Party manifesto commitment in 1997 and 2001.

Similar schemes are already used in other countries, such as Denmark.

However, the scheme has come in for some criticism over concerns that some of the data included in the packs could soon be out of date and worries over the cost for people on low incomes.

Those supporting the packs say they would help cut down timewasters and gazumping, and would allow consumers to make more informed choices.

Emma Harrison, of the Consumers' Association, welcomed the announcement, saying: "Buying a property is usually the single most expensive purchase an individual will make in their lifetime and it is therefore essential that the business of buying and selling property is made as easy and transparent as possible."

The draft Housing Bill also includes plans to limit the Right to Buy scheme, under which people can buy local authority housing, by increasing the minimum period of tenancy and a new licensing regime for private landlords to improve the quality of rented accommodation.