TREVOR KENT'S
SUCCESSFUL CAMPAIGN 
A
GAINST HOME INFORMATION PACKS
(FORMERLY SELLERS PACKS)

Trevor Kent is past president of the National Association of Estate Agents and media property commentator and can be contacted at his Gerrards Cross Office on 01753 885522 or email trevor@trevorkentmedia.com
He is ISDN radio equipped.

ROUND-UP OF PRESS RELEASES & ARTICLES

FOLLOW THIS LINK TO PRE 2007 NOTES


20th May 2010 

HIPS ARE HISTORY: PICKLES SUSPENDS HOME INFORMATION PACKS WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT

 

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCING IMMEDIATE SUSPENSION OF HOME INFORMATION PACKS

In an important step at a point of fragile recovery in the housing market, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Housing Minister Grant Shapps today announced that with immediate effect, they are suspending the requirement for homeowners to provide a Home Information Pack (HIP) when selling their homes.  

Mr Pickles today signed an Order suspending HIPs with immediate effect, pending primary legislation for a permanent abolition. The Secretary of State has taken this swift action in order to avoid uncertainty and prevent a slump in an already fragile housing market. Today’s announcement sends a clear message of encouragement to people thinking of selling their home that they can put it on the market with less cost and hassle. 

HIPs are currently holding back the housing market because sellers are having to fork-out extra cash, sometimes hundreds of pounds, just to be able to put their home up for sale. Suspending HIPs will reduce the cost of selling a home, remove a layer of regulation from the process and provide a welcome boost to the housing market during the recovery. It will also mean a saving for consumers to the tune of £870m over ten years, giving sellers more money in their pocket to spend in the wider economy.  

Mr Pickles and Mr Shapps also said that the Government is determined to help people reduce their energy bills, improve our energy security and tackle climate change by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes.  Sellers will therefore still be required to commission, but won’t need to have received, an EPC before marketing their property, and the Government will consider how the EPC can play its part in the new drive for a low carbon and eco-friendly economy.   

Eric Pickles said: 

“The expensive and unnecessary Home Information Pack has increased the cost and hassle of selling homes and is stifling the housing market from recovery. 

“That’s why I am taking emergency action to suspend the HIP, bringing down the cost of selling a home and removing unnecessary regulation from the home buying process.  

“This swift and decisive action will send a strong message to the fragile

housing market and prevent uncertainty for both home sellers and buyers. 

“HIPs are history. This action will encourage sellers back into the market, and help the market as a whole and the economy recover.” 

Today’s move is part of delivering a key manifesto comment made by both parties in the new coalition Government.  It will mean that sellers will no longer be told they have to buy a HIP before putting their home on the market, but they will now have the choice to provide one if they want to.  

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said: 

"This is a great example of how this new Government is getting straight down to work by cutting away pointless red-tape that is strangling the market. Rather than shelling out hundreds of pounds for nothing in return we're stripping away bureaucracy and letting home owners sell their properties.

"But we're also showing our commitment to a greener housing market by keeping Energy Performance Certificates and making them more relevant in helping buyers make informed decisions on the energy costs of their new home."

  

Notes to Editors

 

  1. Photos and video footage of the announcement will be available at: www.communities.gov.uk/newsroom/

 

  1. Home Information Packs (HIPs) put sellers of residential properties in England and Wales under a duty to provide a pack of standard information to potential buyers when marketing the property for sale.

 

  1. The duty was introduced in three phases, depending on the size of the property, starting in August 2007 and ending in December 2007. 

 

  1. The duties relating to HIPs are set out in Part 5 of the Housing Act (sections 155 to 159).  The Government has decided to suspend the HIP duties with immediate effect pending their outright abolition at the earliest opportunity.

 

  1. The effect of this is to provide that sellers and estate agents are no longer required to have or to provide copies of HIPs with effect from 21 May 2010.

  2. In order to ensure that people selling their homes continue to make an Energy Performance Certificate available to prospective buyers, we have also laid before Parliament the Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2010 which introduce a number of new requirements including:
    • a new duty on the seller to secure that an energy performance certificate (EPC) has been commissioned before marketing of the property commences where no such certificate is already available;
    • an EPC has been commissioned when a Domestic Energy Assessor has been instructed to prepare the EPC and the EPC has either been paid for or has given a clear undertaking to pay for it;
    • a new duty on the person acting on behalf of the seller to be satisfied that an EPC has been commissioned before commencing marketing;
    • a new duty on both the seller and a person acting on their behalf to make reasonable efforts to secure an EPC within 28 days.
    • All of the new duties carry fixed penalties where somebody fails in the duty conferred on them by the new regulations.


19th May 2010 

HIPs LATEST - GOVERNMENT ABOUT TO ORDER SUSPENSION


I HAVE HAD NEWS JUST THIS MORNING from close to the top (not from CLG press spokespeople) that The Secretary of State is aware of the problems caused by the current uncertainty (see my letter beneath) and HIP 'suspension' is imminent, and once the Order is laid it will come into force THE NEXT DAY. Whether the action will include a promise to consult on re-instatement, perhaps with amendments,  at a later date is unclear.
 
Separate legislation covers the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which is currently incorporated in the HIP (this is the part that reports on the thermal efficiency of the property being sold, and requires a personal inspection of the home by a qualified Domestic Energy Inspector) - it is expected this will remain a marketing requirement under EU law, but hopefully need not be produced until legal completion of the sale. The regime that requires the HIP and EPC to be in place BEFORE marketing could legally begin was a Labour government embellishment for their own ends (I have always suspected those ends to include the surreptitious gathering of property information for future tax raising and tax evasion investigation).
 
The Home Information Pack is almost universally regarded as one of the worst pieces of legislation to have been introduced in modern times (except by HIP provider firms of course) and its abolition was a major plank in the Manifesto promises of both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Parties
 
Trevor Kent
Former President NAEA

 


17th May 2010 

HIPs TO GO, BUT MAKE IT QUICK - TREVOR KENT Former President NAEA


"So we may be here at last, a property world free of the nonsensical Home Information Pack; a cause for which I have lobbied and toiled these ten or so years. Rejoice rejoice!" says Trevor Kent, former president of the National Association of Estate Agents.  
 
Insiders say, with some certainty it seems, that a Suspension Order has already been signed and that it will be placed before Parliament early in the first session of our new regime. Certainly a number of birds would be brought to earth by this stone. The government will be seen right from the start to be prepared to honour Manifesto pledges and have no truck with special interest groups' beatings - a course of action that will bode well for the future of the  strong and forthright leadership the country will need for financial-mire extrication over the next few years - and sellers and their agents will know where they stand too, much relieved. Not to mention the wider economy, so reliant upon a healthy and confident property market free from obstacles to growth.  
 
However, until HIPs are suspended, agents and private sellers will continue to fear civil conviction and penalties should they start marketing a home without a Home Information Pack - not just writing a cheque for three or four hundred pounds upfront but also having to wait days for the preliminary part of the HIP to actually arrive before (legally) an ad can placed, a word printed or an internet primed. 
 
An intolerable situation for some time now, but all the more unacceptable when the licensed HIP producers (a closed shop with no competition) are naturally rather more busy abandoning ship or building life rafts rather than making themselves available for the last few Packs. However, until the moment of suspension, the Law of the Land is being broken  -" put yourself in the agents' position for a moment, the ultimate penalty for marketing without a HIP is to be banned from practice, yet their duty to their clients is to market their homes but there is no one around to prepare the HIPs - is that not the biggest Catch 22 one is ever likely to face?", enquires Trevor Kent.
 
Grant Shapps, now our Housing Minister,  has been forthright with me and other anti-HIPs lobbyists over the last two years promising  "HIPs will go", and I know he is well aware of the difficulty  that uncertainty and delay will cause to everyone involved in the market. Both professional service providers and private individuals  selling demand immediate marketing (many  wrongly assuming from the media that HIPs have already gone) and advisers  have to say "the law won't let us offer your home for sale without a Pack". In a matter of days Trevor Kent believes, without immediate suspension,  agents and private sellers  will move from  being sporadic law-breakers  to wholesale house-seller insurrection! Not good, not healthy and frankly, not fair.
 
Trevor Kent is a former President of
The National Association of Estate Agents,
a long time property commentator, and
still a practicing estate agent in Gerrards Cross 
 
01753 885522
ISDN Radio by appointment     


5th May 2010 

LETTER FROM GRANT SHAPPS



13th April  2010 

ELECTION FEARS ALREADY REFLECTED IN HOUSING MARKET

 

There has been an unexpected surge in instructions in estate agents' offices as prospective sellers begin to fear the possibility of a Labour return or a hung parliament. Despite the fact that delaying until after the election might save these sellers the cost of a Home Information Pack if the Conservatives win (early abolition of the much hated HIPs is expected to appear in Tuesday's Tory Manifesto release) those in need of a quick sale appear to have jumped on to the market earlier and in greater numbers than estate agents were expecting. 

Says Trevor Kent, former president of the National Association of Estate Agents and a long time housing market commentator "home owners have seen prices moving upward a little in the last few months, but now wonder whether this might be the zenith of recovery and that post-election blues may well be reflected in prices lowering once again, particularly if Labour holds sway for the next five years or there is an administration dominated by the whims of hitherto minnow players suddenly elevated to big fish".    

A fifteen percent increase in properties coming on to the market in March is already strengthening the arms of purchasers who no longer see a restriction of choice as forcing them to pay more than they might wish, and offers are again being registered on average at 10% less than asking price. "Sellers are still, by and large, remaining firm on asking prices and only time will tell where this one, and the election, will go by mid-May. A party underestimating the importance of the property market to the economy as a whole and that its remaining strong is of paramount concern to every citizen and voter does so at their peril" concludes Trevor Kent.   

End

 

Trevor Kent is a former President of the
National Association of Estate Agents and
housing market commentator. 

01753 885522

trevor@trevorkentmedia.com

 



8th April  2010 

Shapps: HIPs aren't worth the paper they're written on

Grant Shapps Press Comment from Conservative HQ confirms Tory still anti-HIPs

Commenting on claims that HIPs aren’t detrimental to the Housing Market, Shadow Housing Minister, Grant Shapps said:  

"Home Information Packs aren't worth the paper they're written on. They duplicate costs as buyers and lenders don't trust the contents. They impose a barrier to selling your home which restricts housing supply. Even AHIPPs own survey admits that 15 per cent of home owners have been put off selling, which represents an ongoing detrimental effect on the housing market." 

ENDS

Trevor Kent adds, as I said o nly this morning on BBC Radio, "one way to aid the property market is to support the party who have pledged to withdraw HIPs". Trevor believes that, should the government be returned to power, HIPs may even be made more draconian and expensive than currently, and that the consequence may be an end to the current slight improvement in sales and prices.  

 



15th March  2010 

Even legally qualified conveyancers who have to deal with  the exchange and completion of contracts for the sale of every property sale report HIPS are still useless

 

Estate Agent Today
Monday 15th March 2010

Nothing good about HIPs, say conveyancers


An overwhelming number of conveyancers still dislike HIPs and regard them as having a negative effect.

According to new research among conveyancers by HIP provider MDA, which cannot have liked the results much, 81% rate HIPs poorly.

A large majority said that HIPs have had a negative effect on the conveyancing process in general, as well as on relationships with agents, on overall profits, and on the volume of instructions.

Half said their business would benefit if HIPs were scrapped, with only 6% believing their business would be negatively affected as a result.

Interestingly, if HIPs were indeed abolished, nearly half of those questioned reported that they would simply return to their pre-HIP practices.

Almost all (95%) did not rate a future for exchange-ready HIPs, saying they would still follow standard processes. Most of the conveyancers also dismissed the idea of pre-sale packs, saying due diligence would still be required.

The ongoing duplication of searches was also highlighted by the survey, indicating that scepticism of HIP searches remains an issue.

More than half of respondents ignored personal searches in a HIP and did their own local authority searches.


16th December  2009 

TORIES STILL ON TRACK TO CUT HIP RED TAPE POST ELECTION WIN

Apparently Home Information Packs were launched 2 years ago yesterday (seems longer doesn't it?) and to celebrate their last birthday (if the Conservatives win), Shadow Housing Minister Grant Shapps decked a nice little semi in Meadow Drive Hendon with miles of red ribbon. Christmas present it was not, the festive wrapping intending to represent the Red Tape of Labour's failed HIP policy, and Mr Shapps was there to rend it asunder for the assembled press.

 
A rather apprehensive David and Helen Wright, owners of said property,  stood huddled in the porch clasping a copy of a Pack to their bosoms, probably for protection, as the formidable MP strode towards them purposefully.
 
He had two weapons of choice to free the Wrights from their legally restrictive, useless yet expensive cocoon of tape - shears or bolt-cutters. He opted for the former ( Mr Smith had probably supplied the latter - he's a locksmith!) and, hey presto, the red satin fell to earth for all the world like feint rivulets of blood sucked straight from the hearts of the 1,754,492 home sellers who have suffered at the hands of Labour Housing Ministers in the last two years. And bleed they should as Shapps reminded us that the failed  HIP policy had cost the public a staggering £782,668 a day.
 
The flow temporally stemmed, I asked the, hopefully, soon to be Housing Minister why agents and owners now appear to have to wait 100 days before he can give HIPs the surgery they so deserve, and how did he think agents will be able to comply with the existing law when virtually no HIP producer firms will be left one day after the election. He was confident, however, that a possibly reduced number of suppliers would still see an opportunity for additional profit by staying active until the last day, and he pointed out that many would remain to do Energy Performance Certificates that will still be needed for all sales and rentals.
 
In my opinion, for what its worth, HIPS will have to be temporally suspended on day one whilst consultations progress, otherwise chaos and wide-spread flouting will be the name of the game. How can Agents delay marketing their clients homes when there are no HIP Producers left to produce HIPs - a conundrum indeed? 
 
I just hope Grant Shapps doesn't weaken the day after the battle is won and move to appease the few pro-HIP vested interests by watering down these currently admirable and terminal plans. Reparations should not be considered under any circumstances.  
 
Trevor Kent
16/12/09
This article first appeared in

24thNovember  2009 

Tories pledge to abolish Hips

The UK's independent property help portal

by Kay Murchie

If the Conservative party wins the next general election, it has pledged to scrap Home Information Packs (Hips).

Speaking to The Times newspaper, Grant Shapps, shadow housing minister, said his party would abolish the controversial packs “in a matter of weeks” after coming to power.

The statement will be welcomed by many industry bodies, in particular the National Association of Estate Agents who have been against the packs since day one, claiming they are a “failure” and are “costly and unnecessary”.

Hips were introduced in August 2007 and many believe they have contributed to the fall in house prices and estate agents have previously called on the Government to review the packs in an effort to help the struggling housing market.

On average, they cost between £300 and £400 and those found marketing their property without a Hip could be fined £200.

According to the Government, Hips were introduced to speed up the home buying and selling process.

However, they have been subject to criticism since their inception more than two years ago.

Mr Shapps told The Times: “House prices are rising because supply is restricted. Hips have not helped. The main priority is to scrap them. They are easy to suspend and there are emergency powers we can use to do so. This can happen very quickly. Hips will be gone in a matter of weeks.”

In response, Mike Ockenden of the Association of Home Information Pack Providers (AHIPP) said: “If we are moving to scrap Hips, then we must make sure we are working with the Government for the next stage. We have already introduced exchange-ready packs, which would cost about the same as Hips.”

Exchange-ready packs are completed within one month of the property going on the market - rather than at the start.

Several Hip providers have introduced them in preparation for the abolition of the packs.

Finally, Mr Shapps added that a Conservative government would increase the stamp duty threshold to £250,000 to aid first-time buyers.

Currently, the threshold is £175,000 but this will revert back to £125,000 on 1 January 2010.

 

 

The Negotiator
November 7th 09 

AHIPP mounts Tory Party legal challenge

The Association of Home Information Pack Providers has sought legal counsel on whether it has grounds to sue the Conservative Party if it wins the general election next year and upholds its pledge to scrap Home Information Packs.

In a letter seen by The Negotiator and sent to AHIPP members last month, AHIPP chairman and Simply HIP director Ashley King states: “Taking at face value [shadow housing minister] Grant Shapps’ statement that ‘HIPs are History’, AHIPP has thought it prudent to obtain counsel’s opinion upon the legal position should he try to make good his threat.  I am pleased to be able to tell you that counsel’s robust opinion is that there are several grounds upon which the HIP industry could mount an effective legal challenge to any attempt to scrap or suspend HIPs.”

King adds: “Even if HIPs as we currently know them do not survive, I firmly believe they will be replaced by something else produced by our industry. To achieve this goal we must continue our lobbying and the fight to achieve the tipping point, which gets politicians to acknowledge that further reform is the only viable option.”

In the letter, which underpins phase two of AHIPP’s Tory campaign, King requests a £1,000 contribution from executive members and £500 and £250 from associate and affiliate members respectively, to fund the fight. This follows contributions made by members earlier this year to help fund phase one of the campaign. Both rounds of additional contributions are in addition to members' annual AHIPP fees. King states that only AHIPP members who commit to the additional contributions will receive a copy of counsel’s opinion, which he claimed only two members had done at the time of writing.

Industry sources deny that the letter is an admission by the association that it foresees the death of HIPs next year, insisting that counsel opinion is part and parcel of a form of disaster recovery, which any competent business would devise.

The letter preceded AHIPP’s latest Tory working group meeting on Wednesday, which was created to devise ways to lobby the Tory Party about its perceived value of HIPs.

As Shapps reiterated at the Tory party conference in Manchester last month, he plans to scrap HIPs if the Tories win the election, denouncing them as pointless red tape. Speaking to The Negotiator about King's letter, he says: "Once again AHHIP is leading their members up a garden path by asking them to pay yet more money for pointless legal advice. No legal challenge can successfully trump a manifesto pledge and primary legislation. It's a fact that no parliament can bind a future parliament, and so there will be no legal route to blocking the abolition of HIPs."

He adds: "I don't know how to get this through to AHIPP, but HIPs are history under the next Conservative government."

News of AHIPP's strategy follows calls for the introduction of temporary legislation to make a new legal pack compulsory. Rob Hailstone, coveyancer and founder of the newly-created Bold Group, which has been launched to campaign for the replacement of the HIP with a property legal pack, says: “Many property professionals have accepted that HIPs will be discontinued or dramatically modified in the near future. The question is, what should replace HIPs? Despite acknowledged drawbacks, HIPs have achieved some of the benefits of making buying a home simpler and less stressful. We want to build on this beginning by helping to define the property legal pack of the future.”

"It would be wrong to go back to a pre-HIP property selling process, we must keep the momentum of change and improvement going and strive towards producing an exchange-ready product as often as possible. I therefore suggest making searches voluntary, engaging a solicitor or conveyancer when a property is first marketed, bringing back the ability to market a property for sale once a pack has been ordered and introducing a temporary period of legislation to make the new pack compulsory. After that temporary period the commissioning of the pack should become voluntary and the property industry will be able to decide whether or not it continues working with it.”

In a recent survey of over 2,000 solicitors, conveyancers, estate agents and other property professionals undertaken by the Bold Group last month, 74.5% agree that HIPs should be adapted and renamed, with 80% believing that a cheaper, more comprehensive pack allowing first day marketing should be developed and 85.7% believing that adding additional document to a pack, such as planning permissions, guarantees and building regulation approvals would help speed up sales. Further, 91.2% of respondents believe that pack providers should be regulated.

Separately, Simply HIP has launched an upgraded pack. As of November 9, all of the firm’s packs will be upgraded to its exchange-ready design, which means that in addition to the documents contained in a standard HIP, they will include a contract for sale prepared by a lawyer, a seller property information form, additional documents referred to in the Register, copies of planning permissions, building regulations consents and guarantees supplied by the seller, plus a lawyer’s certificate confirming that the pack is exchange-ready.

King says: “Now is the time to upgrade to a product that truly delivers what everyone wants; speed, certainty and less stress, and without incurring additional cost.”

King declined to comment on the letter.

 

Estate
Agent 
Today

HIPs will soon be history, Shapps tells Tory conference
 

Wednesday 7th October 2009 Taken from www.estateagenttoday.com

Shadow housing spokesman Grant Shapps told the Tory conference yesterday that HIPs will become history if his party wins power.

He said they were symbolic of the “pointless red tape” Labour had introduced in housing.

He added that Gordon Brown would be "the first to benefit" from the abolition of HIPs when the removals lorry van pulls up outside Number 10.

Shapps’ speech makes it appear that he has been impervious to lobbying by AHIPP at the conference and to the results of research produced by AHIPP this week which claims that consumers see benefits in HIPs.

 

BBC - Watchdog
April 2009

HIPS company fails to deliver

 

Watchdog investigated the issue of Home Information Packs (HIPS) and a company that failed to deliver three times over. HIPs are the government's big idea to make buying and selling your home quicker and easier. It's a brand new business, with an age old problem. People who'll make all sorts of promises to get hold of your cash but fail to deliver on their promised service.

HIPS have been around for just over a year. They're controversial but if you're selling your house in England or Wales, then in most cases you'll have to get one so that potential buyers can have all the information they need.

You can put the pack together yourself or find someone to do it for you. Roger Byatt did that in November 2008 when he decided to sell his flat. Roger bought a HIP through a Scottish-based provider called 1stforHIPS. Roger was especially interested because of the extras that were on offer including a floor plan and a "virtual tour of the property".

Good deal
The packs offered by 1stforHIPS were an incredibly good deal too, more than £50 cheaper than the average. When Roger signed up for the pack he thought that 1stforHIPS would deliver fast but although they sent inspectors round, Roger never got his HIP. He told Watchdog: "I made enquiries and began to see that actually the company wasn't delivering for other people, there were forums on the internet talking about them."

The owner of 1stforHIPS, Jason Gamble, not only persuaded sellers to take a chance with his company, but estate agents too. One of those was Matthew Bennett of Orchid Estate Agents. Matthew was visiting an Estate Agents' trade fair. "I fell upon the 1stforHIPS stand and got talking to Jason Gamble and his team, where they were offering Home Information Packs for a staggering price of a £179," he told us.

This price was so good that Matthew paid up for five HIPs. Matt eventually had just two delivered. This left him with no option but to buy more packs for his clients from other providers, and he never received a refund from 1stforHIPS. The failure of 1stforHIPS to deliver on their promises nearly jeopardized the sale of homes for Matthew clients.

So, sellers had lost money to 1stforHIPS, estate agents had lost money to 1stforHIPS. But Jason Gamble had another card up his sleeve. He'd found one more way, to put money in his hip pocket.

Energy assessments
The energy assessment which provides an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is an essential part of the HIP. 1stforHIPS employed a large team of inspectors from around the country to conduct these assessments, one of whom was David Down. He was newly qualified and liked the idea of working for a company like 1stforHIPS, because they offered a great deal.

"I was looking for a career change and I saw this and I thought it would be a good opportunity for me," David told Watchdog.

David was contacted by Jason Gamble, the director of 1stforHIPS, who said he could earn a great wage doing energy assessments. All he had to do was pay a fee to 1stforHIPS, in return he'd get a special camera, and more importantly, the right to do all the jobs in one area.

David paid over £2,500 and worked hard for 1stforHIPS, making calls to almost 50 houses. But 1stforHIPs only ended up paying him for half of those jobs.

At least David got some money. We've spoken to other inspectors promised work by 1stForHIPs. Some paid out £3,000 to get their patch and never got a single job.

HIP Code
The government says anyone selling HIP should follow the guidelines in what's called the HIP Code -run by The Association of Home Information Pack Providers (AHIP). But it's not compulsory and there's no surprise that Jason Gamble didn't sign up. 1stforHIPS would fall well short of the required standards.

Mike Ockenden, the director general of AHIPP, told Watchdog: "There is no way in the world that 1stforHIPS could operate in the way that they do if they were a subscriber to the HIP Code... the fact they haven't actually delivered their product, you can't get the phone answered, they don't answer queries properly they don't answer complaints."

We see plenty of businesses who take money for nothing on Watchdog. But there aren't many who've found a brand new market and exploited it so quickly, and so thoroughly. 1stforHIPS is a first for that.

When Watchdog contacted 1stforHIPS the company said: "1stForHIPs.com was established in February 2007 in response to the statutory requirement for all homes being sold in England and Wales to have a Home Information Pack from December 2007.

"The business experienced significant growth following the delivery of 1stForHIPs first Home Information Pack in January 2008 - successfully delivering over 5,000 fully-compliant Home Information Packs and expanding our central workforce to over 50 personnel by August 2008, in direct support of the fast growing business and the Domestic Energy Assessors that had become Agents.

"It was, however, deeply regrettable that we ceased trading on December 2008 due to the impact of a combination of factors including the current recession, the recent collapse in the property market, bad debt and a downturn in HIP instructions which caused significant cash flow problems.

"Unfortunately when a company ceases trading there will always be customers who are affected financially and we can only apologise for their financial loss.

"We strongly refute the allegations levelled against the company and we must stress that we received no trading standards complaints during almost two years in business.

"We must also add that as a business we exhausted every possible avenue to keep the company trading until it became no longer sustainable to do so."

Telegraph.co.uk
April 2009

Taken from Brief Encounter - Daily Telegraph

To describe the history of Hip legislation as “convoluted” is a masterly understatement. Hips were introduced by the Housing Act 2004, but the detailed requirements are set out in no fewer than 12 sets of regulations issued since 2006. Some of these regulations repeal earlier ones, and there are different dates when different requirements came into force. The latest changes came into effect on April 6, 2009.

There have always been some specific exceptions to the scheme. One original major exception was that a property that was on the market before the relevant commencement dates in 2007 did not need a Hip. The exception is set out in Regulation 33 of the Home Information Pack (Amendment) Regulations 2007. Guidance to local authority enforcement officers published this month warns them to look out for sham arrangements where the seller has only nominally kept the property “on the market” since 2007. You will therefore have to be able to prove that your property has continuously been on sale for the whole of the past two years.  

The Government initially announced that this dispensation would be temporary, and that Regulation 33 would effectively be withdrawn when market conditions were right. The intention was to set a date by which all properties would need a pack — a date that was described in official departmental guidance documents as the “drop dead date”. To make matters really complicated, the Government has only partially carried out this plan. Since last year, the regulations have required all properties on the market to have an energy performance certificate, no matter when they first went on sale. The Government has not said when it will set the “drop dead date” for other elements of the pack — and the most recent regulations are completely silent on the issue.

The writer is a barrister at Tanfield Chambers.

 

YET MORE HIP PAIN TO COME FOR HOME-SELLERS FROM APRIL
21st March 2009

 

As of 6th April, our 'property friendly' government has decreed it will be an offence for an estate agent (or a private seller not using an estate agent) to carry out ANY form of marketing of a property without having the majority of a Home Information Pack actually prepared and ready for inspection first.This could delay marketing for weeks.
 
As most already know, a seller currently has to write out a cheque or present a card for an average of £300 (soon to be nearer £400 thanks to government mismanagement of Local Authority Searches) to order a HIP and marketing can then begin at once. It can actually be done whilst the agent is 'measuring-up' and immediately the agent gets confirmation when back at the office that the payment has been made, it's 'all systems go' right away - just what the seller wants.
 
HOWEVER come April 6th, paying for the HIP is no longer enough. Our government decrees that no adverts can be placed, no for sale boards nailed up, no  flyers printed - not even a verbal mention of the house made to a potential viewer UNTIL the HIP is prepared and available for inspection.
 
Our rulers themselves have accepted that the required information will NEVER  be back in the first 3/5 days (so no property will ever go on the market on day one again). Agents can prove that, on average, the required information actually takes an average of  9 days to arrive and this was before a newly added Property Information Questionnaire was invented, that the government has chosen to add to the HIP documents (without trial) for the first time on 6/4.
 
The current HIP already averages 110 pages and some major agents, selling thousands of homes a month, will attest that purchaser requests to view HIPs are in SINGLE FIGURES. The newly invented 'Property Information Questionnaire will add yet more pages and completing it will further delay marketing . Herewith the new questions a seller must now answer and send back to the HIP preparer to be added to the Pack! 
 
 
Agents know sellers will be reluctant to fill these in, in the same way they are, not unreasonably, reluctant to allow their homes to be intimately searched by Energy Inspectors to
prepare the Energy Performance Certificate which also has to be in the Pack before marketing can begin.
 
It's all quite mad, especially when the government accepts that 98% of viewers currently refuse to inspect the multi-page HIP before making an appointment to view a home, and 95% 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.
 
If there is any justification for making the marketing of one's home illegal (fine £200 a day) before a useless and unnecessary HIP has arrived - will someone please explain it to me? Preferably before the lights go out on the property market for good.
 
 
 
Trevor Kent
Former president National Association of Estate Agents 
Property market commentator and anti-HIP activist
Gerrards Cross 01753 885522

 

 

No 10 confirm fines for home sellers marketing without HIPs today

24th February 2009

No 10 Downing Street has today issued an official response to an Anti-Home Information Pack Petition lodged by former president of the National Association of Estate Agents, Trevor Kentand signed by 1694 members of the public.

 
In their response, the government has confirmed that from 5th April, should a home-owner place their property on the market for sale, even if they have paid the average £350 for their Pack on day one, they will be committing an offence if they put a sign up, advertise it or even mention it to be for sale until part of the Pack has been both completed and returned to them.  Fines, policed by Trading Standards Officers, are set at £200 a day if they are caught.
 
The response http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page18363 clearly explains that the basic Home Information Pack must be in the seller's hands before marketing can legally begin even after payment. Downing Street concede in the response that this delay will always be a minimum of 3/5 days.
 
Trevor Kent, a practicing estate agent and long-term critic of HIPs says "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.  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 trialed yet, some sellers will wait weeks". 
 
"Not content with presiding over an estimated 20% 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", says Trevor Kent, "this goes beyond  Double Whammy, past kicking owners whilst their 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".
 
END
 
Trevor Kent is former President of the NAEA
and a property commentator for 20 years. He is based in South Bucks.
01753 885522
ISDN Radio quality available 
 
Trevor Kent's original petition to No 10 Downing Street
 

The Independent
8th February 2009

'Utterly pointless'. Are HIPs breaking the back of the housing market?

As the rules are tightened for home information packs, Julian Knight asks if they can help sellers and buyers.

For some, they have advanced consumer protection and shone a light on the dark workings of the property market. For others, they have been nothing more than a monumental waste of time and money – a piece of botched legislation that has helped turn a housing market correction into a full-scale crash. Home information packs are either heroes or villains.

HIPs have been compulsory since December 2007 for all homes being sold in England and Wales. But soon the regulations governing the packs will get tighter; break these rules and sellers and their agents could face fines of up to £200 a time.

For the past 14 months, vendors have been allowed to put their homes up for sale without actually being in possession of a HIP; they have only needed to show a pack is on order. But from 6 April, this period of grace will be abolished. "You won't be able to place an advert, or so much as tell a potential buyer that a property suiting their needs is about to come on the market, without having a HIP in place first," says Trevor Kent, a former head of the National Association of Estate Agents and a longstanding opponent of the packs.

HIPs contain key details of the property being sold, including local authority and utility searches, copies of title and an energy performance certificate obtained from a qualified inspector.

The big idea behind the sellers' packs is that the conveyancing process will be speeded up as the buyer can see a lot of the information upfront, and any potential snags. To this end, from 6 April, HIPs will also contain answers to some of the questions raised most often by buyers' solicitors, such as the risk of flooding and whether there are service charges. Mike Ockenden, director-general of the Association of Home Information Pack Providers, says: "In trials of these new-style HIPs, sales have definitely been faster because less time is eaten up by solicitors asking each other questions. As a result, people are moving from offer accepted to exchange within three weeks."

But those at the sharp end, dealing with HIPs day in, day out, tell a different story. "They are good in theory but the execution has been so bad – frankly, they are a bit of red tape," says Alan Thompson from conveyance specialist Act Legal.

"For instance, many of the independent HIP providers include personal searches in the packs. This means either they or a third party source the information rather than getting it straight from the local authority. This is understandable, as some authorities charge over £200 for a search. But the buyer's solicitor will want to protect their client and arrange for a full search bought from the local authority. And if they don't do so, the mortgage company may insist. As a result, both the seller and the buyer can end up paying for searches."

The price of HIPs, though, is no- where near the doom-laden predictions at the time of their introduction, when opponents said costs could touch £1,000 in some instances. Tough competition has forced the expense down and charges of between £250 and £400 are common . "Providers can put packs together cheaper than individuals can do it for themselves," adds Mr Thompson.

Typically, sellers arrange HIPs through an independent provider or their estate agent – which will usually farm the pack out to one of the independents anyway. What's more, some agents offer to tack the cost of the HIP on to the commission they charge should the property sell. There is a risk, though, that agreeing to this kind of arrangement could limit your options. "There is a real issue of portability," says Mr Kent. "Will the agent allow you to take your HIP with you should you wish to move to a rival."

The true cost and quality of HIPs should be transparent, he says: "Some agents get kickbacks from the providers that they farm their packs out to. I would like to see agents declare upfront if they receive any commission on HIPS.

"In truth, many of these HIPs are slipshod, cobbled-together affairs. I have even heard anecdotally of instances where energy inspections are not carried out by qualified people but are simply signed off by them." he adds.

A recent investigation by Birmingham Trading Standards found the overwhelming majority of HIPs it examined were of "unsatisfactory" quality.

The home pack industry is keen to counter its critics. "There is a code of practice overseen by an independent body, the Property Codes Compliance Board. Anyone who is responsible has signed up to this and I recommend only buying a HIP from these companies," says Mr Ockenden. "Roughly 75 per cent of the HIP market by volume is signed up to the code."

However, HIPs legislation still seems to be marked for repeal if the Conservatives get in at the next general election. A recent memo from shadow housing minister Grant Shapps to anti-Hip campaigners says the packs could be living on borrowed time. "We remain completely committed to abolishing HIPs. In these difficult times for hard-pressed homeowners, I look forward to quickly and efficiently tearing away this utterly pointless piece of red tape," the memo reads. Under this vision, HIPs are unloved and living on borrowed time.

But in response, Mr Ockenden says, it would be a mistake to use HIPs as a political football, adding that he detects growing goodwill: "We do not want to go back to the bad old days. Industry bodies that were once sharp critics, such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the National Association of Estate Agents, are beginning to come onside. I recently asked a room full of property professionals, many of them pack opponents, whether or not it was a good idea to give buyers more information at the outset. Not one disagreed."

As for the charge levied at HIPs that their introduction has helped exacerbate the turmoil in UK's housing market, Mr Ockenden says nothing could be further from the truth: "If the packs were having such a negative impact on the market, why is there a record number of properties up for sale? If HIPs were such a problem, surely they would be deterring people from putting their properties on the market in the first place?"

 

Telegraph.co.uk
14th December 2008

HIPocrisy? David Blunkett's residence 
for sale - without a Home Information Pack

 

The former grace and favour home of David Blunkett has been advertised for sale without a Home Information Pack, in direct contravention of the Government's own proposed rules.

By Melissa Kite, Deputy Political Editor

Last Updated: 4:04PM GMT 14 Dec 2008

Formerly the official residence of David Blunkett while he was Home Secretary, the London property was put on the market in November 2008  Days after Margaret Beckett, the Housing Minister, condemned home owners for exploiting a legal loophole to delay getting a pack, it can be revealed that her own department has done exactly the same thing. 

Mr Blunkett's former official residence in South Eaton Place, Belgravia, which he used when he was Home Secretary, was put on the market on November 10 by her department, after standing empty for more than two years.  The six bedroom property has an asking price of £4 million and is being sold jointly through agents Ayrton Wylie and Savills.  Yet on November 26, the Government admitted in answers to Conservative parliamentary questions that the property's Home Information Pack (HIP) "will be completed shortly" – meaning that the house had been put up for sale and advertised without one. Officials only managed to provide a HIP for the house three days ago, on Dec 11.

This is not illegal as under the current 'first day marketing rules', a property can be on the market for 28 days before a HIP is provided, provided that one has been commissioned.

But last Monday, Mrs Beckett roundly criticised this practise and pledged to close the loopholes which allow it.  She argued it was "essential that buyers are able to see the information" immediately and said that from April next year, sellers will need to have all the documents in place before an estate agent can market the property.  Town halls will be required to fine home owners £200 for putting properties on the market without a HIP.

The controversial packs typically cost around £300 and take between four days and three weeks to complete.  But the fact that the department responsible for them cannot manage to produce one for four weeks will only add to the outcry against them from campaigners who say they are complex, unfair and hinder the already-struggling housing market.

The small print of the HIP for Mr Blunkett's former home reveals that the seller is the Department of the Environment, which is legally now part of Mrs Beckett's Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG), which oversees HIPs.  A DCLG spokesman said: "There was a HIP there within 28 days, so that is perfectly within the rules."

Whitehall departments have been shunning other parts of the scheme too, including the Home Condition Reports (HCRs) which Mrs Beckett announced would be made a compulsory element next year.

HCRs, a slimmed-down survey produced by the seller, are currently voluntary and to date only 1,800 have been commissioned. Ministers have asserted that they are a "valuable element" and have labelled the poor take-up as "disappointing".  But the research shows that not one government department selling property has commissioned an HCR. Those snubbing the Government's own policy include the Ministry of Justice, which sold 20 properties without HCRs. Mr Blunkett's former residence is also being sold without one.

The exorbitant cost of HIPs for large and leasehold properties is also highlighted by the experience of government departments. The Ministry of Justice had to pay as much as £658 (£560 + VAT) for some of its HIPs.

Grant Shapps MP, the shadow housing minister, said: "This is a devastating vote of no confidence in the Government's own regulations.  "Actions speak louder than words, and even Gordon Brown and the Government department in charge of HIPs think they are a waste of time when selling David Blunkett's former grace and favour house. It is the height of Whitehall hypocrisy for Gordon Brown to be exploiting the HIP loopholes that Labour Ministers have pledged to abolish for everyone else.

"Councils are now being told by Labour ministers to start fining home owners who advertise their home without a pack. Yet town halls should first knock on the doors of Whitehall department in charge of HIPs who will soon be breaking the law under the Government's new rules."

The Conservatives, who have pledged to scrap the scheme, are calling on the Government to reverse the policy in order to help rescue the ailing housing market.

*62 South Eaton Place was traditionally occupied by the Home Secretary until the Government decided to sell after David Blunkett's fall from grace. He moved out in 2006, having being allowed to stay on there for four months after resigning as Home Secretary over the "nannygate" affair.

*Priced at £4 million, the property has six bedrooms, three reception rooms, two bathrooms, two fitted kitchens and parking.

*In 2002 nearly £100,000 was spent on the property, including £85,000 on refurbishment.

*Mr Blunkett was said to believe that the house was haunted. He was reported to have complained of unusual noises after dark and a strange chill in some rooms.

*The house is in a prime London location close to Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace and within walking distance of exclusive bars and restaurants. Similar properties cost up to £7,000 a month to rent.

*Former residents include Douglas Hurd, Michael Howard and Mo Mowlam. Near neighbours include Elizabeth Hurley, Margaret Thatcher, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Roger Moore, Roman Abramovich and Nigella Lawson.

 

HIPs - BECKETT FIDDLES AS HOUSE MARKET BURNS


8th December 2008
Trevor Kent former President of the National Association of Estate Agents and one of the most vocal critics of Home Information Packs reacted with astonishment today to Housing Minister Margaret Beckett's long awaited statement on HIPs.
 
"When the whole of the home-sale industry has repeatedly castigated the government over both the nature and implementation of HIPs, I am deeply saddened that the new Minister's arrival at The Department of Communities and Local Government has not produced the hoped for root and branch reform of this idiotic legislation. Far be it from recognising the clamour from all directions calling for withdrawal of HIPs, she intends to make them more draconian still" says Trevor Kent.
 
Presently a home can be put on the market as soon as a HIP has been ordered (and paid for at an average cost of £300)   "Today, Margaret Becket has announced that from April qualifying HIP documents will actually have to be back in the sellers' hands before marketing can commence.   So when, as Grant Shapps her Conservative shadow so accurately put it today 'the housing market is on its knees', she seeks to effectively take properties off the market for  two  weeks."continues Kent, "and, not content with imposing a marketing delay she has told Trading Standards Officers to be pro-active in fining owners or their agents £200 if they are caught out advertising or putting a board up before the forms are delivered".
 
The Minister's statement has also announced that yet another form, the 'Property Information Questionnaire will be added to the HIP and must be compiled by sellers pre-marketing,  Leasehold owners will find it particularly difficult to complete without legal help. "The Minister says that under her new arrangements owners will be able to start marketing 'within three to five days' - well as a practicing estate agent myself, I have found that it takes eight to ten days to get the documents, and anyway why force sellers to delay even a minute's marketing, just to wait for parts of a HIP to come back that their buyers will not even bother to look at?"  
 
 
TREVOR KENT is former president of the National Association of Estate Agents
 
07967 990967
01753 885522

 

Press Release
8TH December 2008

Conservatives
New blow to housing market from town hall HIP fines

Ministers respond to housing slump by imposing more red tape

In the midst of a crisis-hit housing market, the Government today announced that it is increasing Home Information Pack regulation, and will increase the costs on people trying to sell their home. This will include town halls becoming more aggressive about issuing fines for breaching the HIP red tape rules.

This is despite the fact that the Government's own research into Home Information Packs found that:

  • there is minimal public knowledge and interest in HIPs
  • the industry think they are a waste of time
  • they duplicate costs
  • buyers are not bothering to consult HIPs.

Yet in a Written Ministerial Statement today, the Government has announced the following changes:

·          Heavy-handed fines: Town halls will be instructed to “identify specific cases of non-compliance and enforce the requirements” – and start fining home owners £200 a time who do not follow the rules. 

·          Making it more difficult to advertise your home: From April 2009, the Government is cancelling the “first day marketing” provisions. These allow sellers to place their home on the market if a HIP has been ordered, but has not yet been completed. The cancellation will be mean that sellers will have to wait longer before they can put their home on the market. They will be fined if they advertise their property without a HIP. Transitional provisions on insurance protection, introduced because of search delays, are also removed – hence increasing the time to produce a Pack.

·          Resurrection of Home Condition Reports: Home Condition Reports (slimmed down surveys commissioned by the seller) are currently voluntary. The Government is to “explore options” to force sellers to provide information “about the condition of homes”. However, buyers and their lenders are simply not going to trust these third-rate surveys.

·          Gold-plating the Packs: The time to complete a pack will increase, as sellers must personally fill out a detailed new ‘Property Information Questionnaire’ as part of the Home Information Pack. Yet this will be of little interest to buyers, who will instinctively treat information provided by the seller with a touch of scepticism.

 Shadow Minister for Housing, Grant Shapps, said:

 “Home Information Packs have already harmed the market and discouraged sellers. Given its fragile state, the last thing the property market needs is the prospect of heavy-handed fines.

 “Ministers are simply in denial. They are moving ahead with yet more regulation, not to help home buyers, but merely to justify their utterly discredited Government intervention.  

“The housing market is on its knees and Labour’s response is to make it more difficult and more expensive to sell your home. Conservatives will scrap Home Information Packs. If anything, Ministers should be using their emergency powers to suspend HIPs and provide a shot in the arm to the ailing market.”

 ENDS

 

TREVOR KENT'S PLEA TO MARGARET BECKETT


11th November 2008

Clearly Gordon Brown regarded the calibre of his Housing Minister to be just a bit more important in the current climate than in years gone by. Why else would he appoint a heavyweight former Foreign Secretary to the post? He  clearly must have accepted that the HIPs debacle, overseen by Labour's previous seven ministers, has contributed not only to our present housing crash, but also the prospects of his party's re-election.

 
In just a few weeks time homeowner electors will discover that, with Christmas out of the way, their plans to immediately put their properties on the market will be thwarted by Nanny Brown. Not only will they then have to write a £350 HIPcheque before they can fly the flag board, but they have to wait for uncertain parts of the HIP to return first. No one, not even our masters in this - the  Department for Communities and Local Government, seem to know what's going on. Confusion, not for the first time where HIPs are concerned, reigns supreme.
 
Ask 10 estate agents what needs to be done on 2/1/09 before details can be printed, web uploaded, board erected  and you will get 10 different replies , why - because no one knows, and the CLG, for one, doesn't even seem to care. In these conditions, can the politicians seriously expect agents to police a policy of non-marketing their clients' homes for them? Indeed do most agents even know, for instance, what bits of the HIP they do need back and which bits they don't before they can get cracking?
 
As far as I can gather, if Ms Beckett does nothing the law stands - no 'First Day Marketing' until some parts of the HIP are paid for and back, what parts - how long - who knows. To put the brakes on this debacle she needs authority from Parliament in the form of a legislative vehicle, even the 'suspension powers' she currently has need to take a similar route if she is of a mind to halt the whole HIPs process, and I see no activity on this front at present.
 
For goodness sake Margaret, what's left of the estate agency profession plead with you -  be brave, do something, get on with it , be the one to wield the secateurs on 'first day marketing' (but preferably on the whole HIP bush) and you may just be the first to encourage the green shoots of property market recovery in the New Year.
 
Editors note. Trevor Kent's petition to No 10 Downing Street calling for 'First Day Marketing' to continue has attracted 1500 signatures putting it in the top 70 of nearly 6000. It can be found at  
Http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Homeinfopacks

 

TREVOR KENT is former president of the

National Association of Estate Agents and a

regular broadcast property commentator based

in Gerrards Cross, South Bucks.

 

01753 885522

ISDN by appointment 

trevor@homeinformationpacks.com

 

IT'S AN END TO HOUSE-SELLING AS WE KNOW IT

 

5th November 2008 

At the turn of the year it will no longer be legal to put a home on the market on the first day an owner makes their decision to proceed, and there could be a £200 a day fine if they do.

 

"The current situation is bad enough" says Trevor Kent, former president of the National Association of Estate Agents, " presently, an owner must pay £350 for a Home Information Pack (HIP), but once ordered and paid for, at least marketing can begin.  Come 2nd January an intending seller will not only have to buy the useless HIP, but also wait up to 14 days (until part of the HIP report is actually back with the seller) before a single flyer can be printed, advert booked or a board erected".  This is the case whether an agent is used or the owner is trying to sell privately.  

 

Estate agents are just beginning to consider how they will deal with desperate sellers in January, especially those with leasehold homes and/or unregistered titles where long delays are inevitable.  Signatories to a No 10 Downing Street  petition http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Homeinfopacks have increased by 59% in the last two days as an end to 'First Day Marketing'  moves inexorably closer.

 

"Can you imagine the pressure that will be exerted by a seller upon their estate agent demanding they market the home immediately they've measured-up?" asks Trevor Kent, himself a practicing agent in South Bucks, "we will be intimidated by the threat of withdrawal of our instructions and forced to have to consider breaking the law in order to stay in business".

 

The irony is that if estate agents capitulate to their clients demands and start marketing on the first day in order to stay in business, the Government have legislated that the Office of Fair Trading will then close them down for marketing before HIPs arrive. " Heads we lose, tails we lose" concludes Trevor Kent, "but the public will lose too as they begin to realise in the New Year what a draconian world we now live in, where governments even stop you marketing your home when you want to".

 

Ends

 

TREVOR KENT is former president of the

National Association of Estate Agents and a

regular broadcast property commentator based

in Gerrards Cross, South Bucks.

 

01753 885522

ISDN by appointment 

trevor@homeinformationpacks.com

 

 

Press Release
3rd November 2008

Conservatives
Labour Ministers try to bury more bad news on Home Information Packs

 

New Government research exposes consumer confusion, apathy and resentment

The Government’s flagship housing policy of Home Information Packs has been undermined by Whitehall ’s own research. On Friday afternoon, the Department for Communities & Local Government quietly slipped out (with no press release) a new research report on consumer attitudes to Home Information Packs. It reveals:

·          HIPs make the buying and selling process more complicated and contain too much jargon.

·          Few people bother to read a HIP in any detail, consumers have a 'low level' of knowledge about what a HIP contains, and they rely upon their solicitors instead.

·          Sellers are having to pay for their solicitor to do additional searches because the standard searches in a HIP do not cover everything or are not reliable.

·          There is a "general apathy amongst sellers who struggled to see the purpose of paying for something that received low levels of interest from buyers".

·          Consumers are concerned about having to pay for the HIP to be re-compiled if the property is not sold.

In evidence to a Select Committee last week, the new Housing Minister, Margaret Beckett, admitted that HIPs were not a "perfect vehicle one might wish to see" and conceded that in a stagnant property market there are problems with the surveys in HIPs becoming out of date.

Despite this research, Ministers have stated that they will not even review HIPs until 2010, admitting that they do not expect the housing market to return "to more normal conditions" until then.

Commenting on this new report, Shadow Minister for Housing Grant Shapps , said:

“Labour are back to their old tricks of trying to bury bad news. Their own research admits that the people think Home Information Packs are a waste of time and money. The public don’t trust the paper these Packs are written on.

“Home Information Packs have served to undermine the housing market, increase the cost of buying and selling a home, duplicate surveys and discourage speculative sellers. Even the new Housing Minister, Margaret Beckett, has no confidence in them. Government Ministers are falsely using the green fig leaf of the environment to justify this latest public policy disaster. But the example of Northern Ireland shows that HIPs simply aren’t needed to introduce Energy Performance Certificates and help people go green.

“Conservatives will scrap this red tape, and the Government should use their power immediately to suspend the requirement to buy a Pack to help the beleaguered housing market. I fear that Labour Ministers are more interested in saving face than saving people money.”

 

ENDS

GOVERNMENT BURY BAD NEWS ON HIPS

The Government used last Friday afternoon to slip out a damning report on Home Information Packs. The report, commissioned by the DCLG, analyses consumer attitudes to Home Information Pack using focus groups.

DCLG, Home Information Packs, Consumer Focus Groups: Qualitative Research Summary Findings, 31 October 2008.

http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/consumerqualitativeresearch

It reveals:

“Many discussion group participants had a limited understanding of the purpose of HIPs and a low level of knowledge of what information the HIP contained. Few participants had read through a HIP for their property in any level of detail. Most had assumed that their solicitor would alert them to anything they needed to be aware of and so they were not concerned about the information it contained” (p.8).

“A large proportion of participants stated that the requirement of HIPs made the buying and selling process more complicated” (p.9).

“Overall, it was felt that the HIP contains too much ‘jargon’ and that it is too complicated for most people to understand. Many participants reported being put off by the sheer size of the HIP and it was felt that the ‘legal’ language used is inappropriate, given that the pack is intended for people who do not have legal training.   Some buyers felt the HIP does not provide a complete overview of the property and that some vital elements are missing from its contents. In fact, some said that the things they were most interested in (e.g., the structure of the property, building regulations and local amenities) were not included in the pack. There was some confusion amongst buyers as to whether or not they should seek out or be concerned about the information that is not provided in their HIP.  In line with these concerns, sellers generally agreed that the HIP did not provide a complete package. Some sellers found that they had to pay for their solicitor to do additional searches because the standard searches performed for the HIP did not cover everything that potential buyers wanted to know. For example, coal mining searches were required in the North West . Buyers also sought further information about the structure of the property, something which a basic HIP does not include” (p.9).

“Sellers reported a general lack of interest amongst buyers with regards to the HIP and they recalled that few buyers actually requested to see the HIP for their property. This fed into a general apathy amongst sellers who struggled to see the purpose of paying for something that received low levels of interest from buyers” (p.12).

“Questions were raised about the length of time the HIP remained valid. Sellers in particular wanted to know whether, if the property didn’t sell within a set amount of time, they would be required to pay for another HIP to be compiled” (p.19).

BECKETT ADMITS IT’S GOING WRONG

Last this week, Housing Minister, Margaret Beckett when quizzed by MPs on HIPs admitted:

Q165: Margaret Beckett - “That doesn't mean they're fulfilling their potential” ... “I fully accept that they are perhaps not the perfect vehicle one might wish to see.”

“Q168  Anne Main: One of the biggest concerns given that there has been one sale per month in some area is that HIPs will be bought and actually become outdated before a buyer ever goes through the door of a potential property he wishes to buy.

“Margaret Beckett: I do accept that that is an area of concern.  As I am sure the Committee is aware, once a HIP has been prepared of course that remains valid while that house is on the market.  It is only after some time that the question of it having to be updated will come into play.  Of course that is an issue that we are looking at with the relevant authorities.”

(CLG Select Committee, Transcript of Oral Evidence, HC 1089-ii, 27 October 2008).

 

HOUSING MARKET TO SUFFER UNTIL 2010

Ministers have refused to review HIPs until 2010, and by doing so, admitted that they do not expect the housing market to return to ‘normal conditions’ until then.

“To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to review the operation and effectiveness of the home information pack scheme.

Caroline Flint: We continue to keep the implementation of Home Information Packs (HIPs) under review in light of market conditions. An evaluation of the HIPs programme is currently planned for 2010 by updating “The HIPs Baseline Research Report”, published in January 2007 and which is available on our website at:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/hipbaselineresearch

We will keep the timing of this evaluation under review in order that it should take place after the housing market has returned to more normal conditions and to enable the identification of the impacts of HIPs separately from wider housing market effects.”

Hansard, 10 September 2008, col. 1989W.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm080910/text/80910w0046.htm#0809111003205

 

 

 

Press Release
28th October 2008

Conservatives

Beckett comes clean and admits HIPs have failed

 

Conservatives call on Labour to suspend HIPs immediately    

Responding to Margaret Beckett’s admission that HIPs are not working to their “potential” and that they have “limitations” Shadow Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, said:  

“The industry doesn’t want HIPs and the public don’t want them. The only people who do are Labour Ministers and now the Housing Minister has expressed grave doubts about them.  

"Its taken a financial crisis and the third Labour Housing Minister in nine months to finally admit what we have been saying all along. HIPs are an expensive, useless,  bureaucratic nightmare that are choking an already struggling property market." 

“If the Housing Minister can admit that the Government got HIPs wrong then she can stand up to the Prime Minister and use the legislation which allows HIPs to be suspended immediately and give the housing market a boost it so desperately needs."  

ENDS  

 

Telegraph.co.uk
21st September 2008

HIPs condemned as 'waste of time' by Government report

By Roya Nikkhah
 

Research commissioned by ministers, but never published, found that both sellers and buyers view the packs as "long, boring and technical" and see them as being of "no benefit".

The packs, introduced by the Government in August last year in the face of widespread opposition from consumer groups and the property industry, contain contain terms of sale, details of local searches, a fixtures and fittings list and an energy performance certificate. They cost sellers up to £600 and it is illegal to put a property on the market without one.

The report, commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government, was uncovered after a series of Parliamentary questions from Conservative shadow ministers Eric Pickles and Theresa May.

Entitled Home Information Packs: A presentation of research findings, the report was compiled by the market research organisation GFK NOP, which asked almost 4,000 house buyers, sellers and estate agents about their attitudes towards HIPs.

The report concluded that house buyers and sellers "don't see the purpose" of the packs and show a "a lack of engagement, experience and interest". It added that "neither buyers or sellers are proactively enquiring about HIPs".

 


3rd September 2008

TREVOR KENT NEEDS YOUR HELP TO STOP A NEW PROPERTY LAW

A few months ago the estate agency profession and their Clients were successful with a  Petition to No 10 Downing Street to ask Gordon Brown to reverse a new law that was then due to be introduced very shortly to outlaw 'first-day' marketing.. The legislation would have meant a Home Information Pack (HIP) would actually have had to be physically delivered to the agent's office, rather than just ordered, before we could begin marketing a home.

With HIPs sometimes taking 10 days or more to arrive, we estate agents  felt this was an unacceptable delay for our clients, who usually wish their homes advertised immediately after their agent's visit, not 10 days later. The  Prime Minister clearly had some sympathy  with our last 10,000 signature Petition, because introduction of  the law banning 'first-day marketing'  was subsequently DELAYED.

However, sadly, it was only a delay and the change is now due to take effect from 31/12/08. Consequently we now have to petition once again to point out the folly of making it a fineable offence to put a home on the market the day one wants to, and ask Mr Brown (or his successor) to look at this new legislation once more and hopefully repeal this aspect of HIPs law. Please note that there are provisions to fine owners or agents £200 a day if they are caught doing ANY marketing before the HIP arrives.
 
Would you please consider joining the Petition by linking to
 
 
Many, many thanks.
 
Trevor Kent PPNAEA
Former President National Association of Estate Agents
and Property Market Commentator
01753 885522
 


2nd September 2008

HOUSING RESCUE PACKAGE AN EMPTY BOX 

 

 
"How strange that a government seeking to help current home-owners facing repossession should announce support for buyers to acquire only empty new-build homes, clearly builders shouted the loudest" says bemused Trevor Kent, former president of The National Association of Estate Agents.  "Surely helping new buyers to take homes off those who can't afford their mortgages would kill two birds with one stone.  Their Stamp Duty 'holiday' limited to purchases under £175,000 will be of little use to the general market either, but again very helpful to high volume builders. Do our  legislators ever ask experts for advice, or do they just blunder on blindly, totally confident in their own infallibility?".
 
 

Trevor Kent PPNAEA

Former President National Association of Estate Agents
and regular property market commentator.

 

01753 885522
Gerrards Cross 

 


 


29th August 2008

GOVERNMENT HIPS ADVICE CONTINUES TO CONFUSE
 

 

All estate agents know how unprofessional the Department of Communities and Local Government ( CLG)  was in implementing the initial introduction of Home Information Packs (HIPs)  together with their regular last minute 'U' turns and mind changes. The situation continues!

Some agents believe that ALL residential properties on the market at October 1st - regardless of whether they came on the market prior to the introduction of HIPs - will need to have an  Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) in place on October 1st. Guidance from CLG and professional bodies has been lamentable on this, potentially, dramatic change in practice. " I, for one, certainly don't know what the position is; what I do know is that I don't much fancy instructing my vendors who have not been able to sell for over a year to suddenly pay for a Pack or an EPC".

I am told that the Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) (England & Wales) Regulations 2007, do indeed state  that unless a residential property is exempt from requiring a HIP it will need an EPC from October 1st 2008, regardless of when it came on the market. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? Is it HIP or EPC, is it both, is it nothing? Does anybody (or indeed Body) out there know? Replies please to trevor@homeinformationpacks.com


Trevor Kent,  Past President NAEA
Gerrards Cross

01753 885522

 


 


16th June 2008

VE HAVE VAYS OF STOPPING YOU SELLING YOUR HOME - SAY LABOUR

 

As 10 Downing Street petitions go, this was a very popular one - the call for a halt to the intended government plan that homes could not be put on the market for 14 days whilst a HIP was prepared. People power prevailed and Labour accepted our argument that their fining owners or agents £250 a day if they put a for sale board up before the HIP arrived was untenable. 

 

The trouble is our 10,000 supporting signatories will have to do it all again soon, because 'there's none so blind as they who won't see' and the government has only DELAYED the new rule 'til 31st December, not repealed it!  

 

As things stand at the moment, from 1st January 2009 Labour  have legislated that you may not put your own home on the market the day you want to. Not content with forcing you to pay £350 for a useless HIP, you'll also have to sit tight-lipped about wishing to sell your house for up to 2 weeks whilst 'Energy Police' visit and Searches are conducted.  No advert is permitted, no details printed, no internet listing, your agent cannot even mention your home to a buyer in the pub.  

 

Now is the time for new housing minister Caroline Flint to grasp the nettle and do away with this unbelievable intrusion into the civil liberties of home-owners.  If Home Information Packs are so wonderful, they can be made voluntary and sellers will still provide them if they want to.  If she doesn't  start by dropping this ban on what has come to be termed 'First Day Marketing', and I catch her offering just one of her Northern Rock repossessions before she can show me her HIP, I'll come down on her like a ton of bricks. 

 

Trevor Kent

16/06/08

 


RESPONSE TO HIP PETITION 
FROM 10 DOWNING STREET

16 June 2008

We received a petition asking:

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to allow the continuation of First Day Marketing of residential property beyond 31st May 2008."

Details of Petition:

"Despite massive opposition the Home Information Pack has been introduced for all residential properties. Currently the marketing of a property can begin as soon as the HIP is ordered but the Government intends to end this concession on 31st May 2008 and will require that the pack is physically complete before marketing commences. This will cause delays for sellers wanting to begin marketing quickly and is an infringement of the personal liberty to sell a property at will. There is no sustainable argument in favour of ending First Day Marketing and we call on the Government to allow its continuance indefinitely."

Read the Government's response

The temporary first day marketing provision was introduced in August 2007 in order to help smooth the implementation of HIPs while the system was bedding-in. The provision has been successful in doing this by allowing a property to be marketed without a HIP, provided that one has been commissioned, paid for, and is expected to arrive within 28 days.

On 8 May 2008, the Government announced an extension to the provision from 1 June to 31 December 2008 in order to provide a further period of flexibility. Following this period the Government expects the temporary measure to end.


If you want to see the Government website follow this link - Homeselling - epetition reply

 

Press Release
16th June 2008

Conservatives

 

Shapps: Hips are effectively dead

Commenting on the Carsberg Review into the property market which has found that Home Information Packs offer the ‘worst of all worlds’, Shadow Housing Minister, Grant Shapps , said:

"The Carsberg review has investigated HIPs and concluded that they are simply getting in the way of people interested in freely buying and selling their own homes. Experts and consumers now agree that HIPs are effectively dead, yet the government refuses to accept their inevitable demise.  

"Labour has let down everyone on the property ladder in Britain today but we intend to do everything possible to help hard pressed home owners by scrapping HIPs, axing stamp duty for first time buyers and doing away with density targets which has meant that too many flats have been built at the expense of family homes."  

ENDS

 

DAILY EXPRESS
Saturday June 14,2008

NEW EVIDENCE THAT HATED HIPS HIT THE PROPERTY MARKET

By Mark Reynolds

HOME Information Packs and soaring stamp duty are delivering a killer blow to the housing market, experts warned last night.  Gordon Brown is already under massive pressure to help hard-pressed home buyers by slashing stamp duty.  In a phone poll yesterday, 100 per cent of Daily Express readers called for the stealth tax to be abolished.  

But in addition to the row over stamp duty, new research now suggests that the £400 cost of compiling a Home Information Pack is piling even further misery on the house buyer. As well as the cost of the HIPs, researchers have discovered that additional solicitors’ fees are being incurred to carry out extra searches.  Last night the Conservatives said both HIPs and stamp duty were contributing to the housing crisis by imposing unnecessary extra costs.  A spokesman explained how new research by MDA, the Canadian firm which supplies many of the HIPs, revealed that more than half of buyers’ solicitors still required their own searches because they did not trust those provided by the seller.  This inevitably leads to yet another increase in costs for the buyer. Grant Shapps, the shadow housing minister, said: “It is a crazy system and the only people who cannot see that it does not work are the ones running the country.”  

The new findings fly in the face of claims by the Government. Housing Minister Caroline Flint recently suggested HIPs actually saved buyers “both time and money”.  Property experts and mortgage lenders now want the Prime Minister to act by reducing stamp duty which they say has become a crippling tax burden. They also want the Government to scrap HIPs altogether. 

The amount of tax the Treasury gets in stamp duty every year has rocketed by more than £10billion under Labour. It is also now widely seen as one of the most punitive stealth taxes on middle-income families. In a new report, Britain’s overall tax bill is revealed to have increased by more than half since Labour came to power. According to pressure group the TaxPayers’ Alliance our burden is now £517billion a year – or £20,700 per household – compared with £294billion in 1997.  Allowing for inflation, this figure works out as a rise of around 51 per cent.

 


23rd May 2008

WHY YOU SHOULDN'T BELIEVE LABOUR ON HOME INFORMATION PACKS
 

 

The Housing Minister Caroline Flint, if asked, will look you in the eye and spew out her Department's mantra that "HIPs save buyers both time and money", 'till the cows come home.
 
Sadly for her, even HIP Providers who earn from the supply of the 700,000 already produced, find it hard to agree. MDA a Canadian firm who has cornered much of the HIP supply chain said today "more than 50% of the buyer's solicitors are continuing to replace the searches in the HIP, and adding extra searches as standard, such as environmental and chancel searches to maintain due diligence for their client". http://www.cnw.ca:80/fr/releases/archive/May2008/22/c3008.html
 
So there it is in a nutshell, the sellers have paid £350 for a HIP including a search -  they send it to the buyer's solicitor in the fond hope that the sale will proceed quickly (because Labour told them that's what the HIP would do) and the buyer's solicitor promptly repeats the process at more cost and further delay.
 
If HIPs are as useless as solicitors clearly believe, why are Labour planning to make things even more difficult? From 1st January 2009, HIP legislation becomes ever more onerous in that   a home cannot even be put on the market until the HIP has arrived with the seller. This means no board, no advert, no marketing -  not even a mention in the pub for 2 weeks after the decision to sell has been made, and a £250 a day fine if you do, Orwellian or what? 
 
Mind you, I wonder if Labour will be happy waiting two weeks (and shelling out £350 a time for a HIP) for their own properties they will have to sell themselves as Northern Rock repossession sales begin to mount!
 
One thing is for sure, Grant Shapps Conservative Shadow Housing Minister, knows a thing or two about the Home Information Pack fiasco, and as recently as yesterday reconfirmed his Party's intention to scrap HIPs upon re-election. If anyone thought to ask the Crewe electorate at  polling stations what they thought of HIPs - I'd very much like to hear their answers!
 
TREVOR KENT, former president NAEA and prominent anti-HIPs campaigner
01753 885522 
 
 


8th May 2008

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER HIP U-TURN BY LABOUR

 

If only politicians would listen to experts in fields where they intend to legislate, rather than running in like bulls in china shops - deaf to all but their own snortings, life would be so much easier. 

For certain if they had, we would never have been saddled with the farce that is the Home Information Pack, and Labour would not have had to eat more humble-pie in Westminster Village cafes than you could shake a 10p Tax Rate at 

Until The Housing Minister's feeble announcement  of a climb-down today, Labour really had intended, in just three weeks time, to make it a fineable offence to put a home on the market until ones HIP was in ones pocket.  

Just look at the Minister's own admission in her Statement today -  "of the 640,000 HIPs produced, the majority within 7-14 days". The 'majority' - what about the others, and what does '7 - 14 days' actually mean? One can only assume the lack of a precise 'average' figure for delivery means most were taking close to 14 days. That's a long time to wait before one is permitted to nail up a For Sale board, and begin advertising. 

Sadly, the whole nonsense has only been put back a few months, not scrapped; consequently commentators such as I will have to resume the drum-banging, the flag-waving and the petition-launching very soon. I'd really rather prefer to be spending my time trying to sell houses and earning a crust for my family to nibble on, rather than trying to open deaf ears in Parliament. However the fact is, thanks to Labour's failure to monitor and control  mortgage lenders' activities, the market has been decimated, so I've plenty of time on my hands to continue to fight the good fight. But I shouldn't have to, neither should Kirstie Allsopp or SPLINTA, or the NAEA RICS and Law Society - but we have to , because legislators don't listen! But voters do, they already have and they will again - and I hope it's soon!

Trevor Kent
Former President, National Association of Estate Agents
and property broadcaster.

01753 885522

 

Press Release
8th May 2008

Ministerial Announcement - Home Information Packs 

 

The Minister for Housing and Planning (Caroline Flint): 

I am today laying amendments to the Home Information Pack Regulations to extend the temporary first day marketing provision, and to extend the temporary provision requiring HIPs to include the “Lease” only and to “authorise” other leasehold documents, from 1 June to 31 December 2008.  

The temporary first day marketing provision allows a property to be marketed without a HIP where the documents required for inclusion in the HIP have been commissioned and paid for, or arrangement for payment been made and are expected to arrive within 28 days.

We introduced the temporary first day marketing provision in order to help smooth the implementation of HIPs, and our evidence shows that it has been effective in doing this. However, we believe that a further period of the flexibility provided by the measure would be prudent.  I am, therefore, laying an order to amend the Home Information Packs Regulations to extend the provision from 1 June to 31 December 2008. 

       

The temporary provision requiring HIPs to include the “Lease” only, and to “authorise” other leasehold documents was introduced in response to concerns about delays and additional costs in obtaining leasehold information.  This provision is also due to expire on 31 May 2008. 

At the time the provision was introduced we also commissioned Ted Beardsall, Deputy Chief Executive of the Land Registry, to undertake a short assessment of the scale and nature of the problems with leasehold information and to advise on possible solutions.  Ted Beardsall’s assessment confirms that there are a number of longstanding issues in the provision and cost of leasehold information, which HIPs have thrown the spotlight on; agrees that the inclusion of all leasehold information prior to marketing would cause serious difficulties; and recommends further work to resolve them.

What is clear from the assessment is that it would be premature to lift the current temporary requirement for the lease only, before carrying out the further work it recommends.  I am also, therefore, laying an order to amend the Home Information Pack Regulations to extend the temporary provision for leasehold requirements from 1 June until 31 December 2008.

In the interim period, I have asked Ted Beardsall to convene a working group of key industry representatives to develop the options identified in his assessment into practical solutions in respect of:

 

* the type of leasehold information that should be required within a HIP, and the form this should take, having regard to the information that buyers need, their availability and costs.

 

* practical steps for helping to establish good practice for landlord and managing agents in the provision of leasehold information.

 

The working group will report to the Housing Minister in order to prepare and introduce final measures from 1 January 2009.

Home Information Packs were introduced to bring useful information up front in the home buying and selling process to increase transparency and create a better consumer experience of buying and selling a home.  We are already seeing positive benefits from HIPs:

 * lower up front costs for first time buyers;

 * greater competition in the property searches market leading to reductions in costs to consumers - over 80 local authorities now set lower searches fees, some by as much as £120;

 * over 700, 000 homes now have Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs);

 * on average £300 per dwelling saving if their EPC  recommendations are implemented; and  

* over 640,000 HIPs produced, the majority within 7 – 14 days. 

The amendments I have announced today, together with the extension of insurance cover for property searches which I announced on 6 March, will bring all temporary measures within the same timescale, providing industry with the certainty that the implementation of HIPs should be complete from 31 December 2008. 

However, it is clear from our Area Trials and analysis of our monitoring that more needs to be done to ensure that consumers realise the full benefits of HIPs.  In particular, to ensure that consumers get to see and are able to use the HIP.   Over the coming months, therefore, we will also take action to:

 * further build on the quality of the HIP, working with industry in developing innovative solutions to enhance the current product; and

 * ensure that consumers see and fully benefit from the information contained in the HIP early in the process, and encourage better practice standards and services consumers get.

Consumers want more general information about the property they are looking to buy – information they can relate to.  Although, the current HIP contains information that can be helpful to consumers and professionals alike, it is clear that we can go further in providing consumers with easily accessible information that will help in their decision to buy a home.  Information on access, boundaries, changes made to the property and fixtures and fittings are currently authorised for inclusion in the HIP.  However, this information is not currently being provided as part of the majority of HIPs.

In order to maximise the potential of HIPs in providing consumers with the information they want, we will develop in partnership with the property professionals, means for capturing consumer friendly information for inclusion within the HIP. This will draw on the lessons learnt from our Area Trials and consumer focus groups.

Industry stakeholders are also actively developing complementary initiatives to build on the content of the HIP, including an “exchange ready pack” - a pack with consumer-facing documents and legal information, including a draft contract to enable swift exchange and completion once an offer has been accepted.   We will continue to work with our Stakeholder Panel to consider this and other initiatives for building on the quality of the HIP.

We recognise that many agents are not showing prospective buyers the HIP and that consumers are not requesting to see it.  We have asked the industry to respond to this consumer need by working with us to promote higher and consistent standards of practice that delivers better services to consumers, and to raise consumer awareness of the service standards they should expect and what they can do if things go wrong.  In particular we will:

 * work with our Stakeholder Panel to support the RICS, the Law Society, the NAEA and other stakeholders who are currently exploring what can be done to bring together best practice into a single set of standards that consumers can expect from property professionals in the home buying and selling process; 

 * work with the industry to ensure that agents and HIP providers understand and act on the requirement to prepare the “basic HIP” as soon as the EPC is produced, so that it is available to potential buyers early in the process; and

 * consider what more might be needed to ensure that consumers are protected throughout the home buying and selling process.

 

I believe these measures will provide greater certainty and stability to consumers and industry about the operation of HIPs.

 

Press Release
8th May 2008

Conservatives

Shapps: Time for another Brown U-turn

Commenting on the news that the final stage of the roll-out of controversial Home Information Packs is being delayed, Shadow Housing Minister, Grant Shapps , said:  

"This latest HIPs delay is the third time that Labour has had to admit that this botched initiative can never work. The time has surely come for Gordon Brown to do one of his famous U-turns and scrap HIPs once and for all."

ENDS

 31st March 2008

Tory call to scrap 'expensive and slow' home packs

The Daily Mail logo  by JAMES CHAPMAN 
HIPs

Home Information Packs are taking weeks to produce and costing far more than the Government predicted, according to a report from estate agents.  Some of the packs are costing more than £500 and more than half are over the target price of £350.

And only one in eight is being produced within the predicted time of four to five working days. Fifty-two per cent are taking 12 days, the report claims, while 31 per cent are taking longer than 15 working days.  

Today the Conservatives will use a debate on the Housing and Regeneration Bill in the Commons to force a vote on abandoning HIPs altogether.

The National Association of Estate Agents' research found most of its members believe the packs have not speeded up the selling process, nor given buyers useful information

The packs were introduced by the Government with claims they would provide key information to home buyers and so speed up purchases.

They were opposed by estate agents, the legal profession and the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

Sellers must pay for a HIP, which includes a 'green' rating requiring a visit and survey by a domestic energy assessor. It also includes council searches and proof of ownership.

More than 370,000 packs have been prepared since last summer.

The National Association of Estate Agents' research found most of its members believe the packs have not speeded up the selling process, nor given buyers useful information.

The delays in receiving HIPs will increase pressure on ministers to backtrack on making sellers have a pack ready before they can even put a home on the market. At present a pack must only have been commissioned before putting a home up for sale, but this will end on May 31.

Earlier this month consumer watchdogs said HIPs had been introduced in the 'worst piece of consumer legislation in 50 years'.

Tory housing spokesman Grant Shapps said: 'Everyone involved, be it experts or consumers, recognises that HIPs have failed in every aspect.'

A spokesman for the Communities and Local Government Department said: 'The average cost of a HIP is between £300 and £350 which, apart from the energy performance certificate, is already part of the buying and selling process.

'The most authoritative analysis of HIPs found 72 per cent of consumers were satisfied with them.'

• Only 4 per cent of newly built flats sold at auction over the last three years made a profit, according to new figures.

Auctioneers Allsop, which said such sales were often repossessions, found the value of the average new flat dropped 26 per cent when it went under the hammer.

The report is a major worry for buy-to-let investors who are seeing the value of their portfolios plunge. Allsop blamed the problems on an over-supply of flats.

 

NAEA
11th March  2008

GOVERNMENT SPINS HIPS TRIALS

The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) is very concerned that the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) is trying to cover up much of the MORI research into the Home Information Pack Area Trials.

 Last week the Government released details of the HIPs area trials and the NAEA was infuriated that the CLG decided to try to use agents as a scapegoat for the problems of HIPs.  However, as the NAEA suspected, a full reading of the research document reveals much more than suggested by the CLG’s own press release.

 Peter Bolton King, chief executive, NAEA, comments, “Clearly desperate to say something positive, the press release concentrated on the seller’s perception of the HIP.  ‘Eight out of ten felt that it contained everything they expected’ – well I would hope so, it is after all their house!  Is this really as positive as it gets? Nowhere did the press release concentrate on the buyers.  After all, the legislation was actually brought out for the benefit of the buyer in order to give them up-front information about the property they are looking to buy.” 

 A more detailed reading of the report, itself, indicates why the Government’s press release was so limited.

 Mr Bolton King continues, “Only 29% of sellers who actually sold a property with a HIP felt that it made the process more efficient.  As far as Buyers were concerned, only 20% felt that the HIP sped up the buying process and 41% of buyers thought that a HIP made the buying process more difficult.  Perhaps one of the most telling figures was that 76% said that the HIP had no effect on their decision to buy!”

 The NAEA is convinced that it is extremely important for the estate agency industry to engage with government.  However, this research confirms what the NAEA and its members have consistently said, that HIPs are not the way to improve the buying and selling process.

 Peter Bolton King, concludes, “It is a pity that the Government chose to ignore what we and other stakeholders said to them over the last few years. At the end of the day it is the consumer who is losing out.”

- Ends –

TREVOR KENT is former President of The NAEA  
01753 885522
ISDN Radio available.

 


7th March 2008

TREVOR KENT IS A FOUNDER MEMBER OF ANTI-HIP GROUP SPLINTA WHO SAYS : 
HIPS 'RESEARCH' GREETED WITH DERISION.

 

A press release today (6th March) from the Communities and Local Government department concerning Home Information Packs (HIPs), has been greeted with derision by the leading anti-HIP campaign group SPLINTA.

The CLG release details some of the findings of research by Ipsos MORI into the trials of HIPs carried out between November 2006 and April 2007, prior to their general introduction later in 2007. At the time the trials were heavily criticised as the publicity for the packs AND  was subsidised by CLG to the tune of some £4 million pounds. None of the results of the trials were made public before the imposition of HIPs on the entire residential property market. 

Head of SPLINTA, Nick Salmon, said today that the figures quoted in the CLG press release are being used to 'spin' the supposed benefits of HIPs and paint a thoroughly misleading picture of the reality of the packs in today's market. 

"CLG say 72% of sellers were satisfied with HIPs in the trial. Of course they were, as the packs costs them nothing. I'm surprised it wasn't 100%. Apparently 79% agreed that trial packs contained 'everything expected'. That is a meaningless statement as we have no idea what those sellers were expecting. 81% understood the documents including the Energy Performance Certificate. An EPC graph could be understood by a child but I don't believe that many people would understand easements, covenants and wayleaves without professional guidance, so I question just which documents these sellers were supposedly understanding."

Salmon went on to highlight a glaring omission from the CLG release.  "I find it extremely telling that this release is absolutely silent on the matter of whether or not HIPs are actually having a beneficial impact on transactions times and fall through rates in property sales - which was the original goal before saving the planet took priority.  In case they have not got that far in their analysis of the trial, let me tell the Minister what is happening in the real world today. HIPs are doing absolutely nothing to hold sales together, nor are they cutting the time between acceptance of offer and exchange of contracts. Buyers don't want to see them, and sellers have no interest in them. If she does not believe me, I challenge her to spend a few days actually in estate agents' offices to see the reality for herself" 

SPLINTA has campaigned against the Home Information Pack since 2001 and now has an online petition running on the Number 10 Downing Street website to try and head off a further change to the HIP legislation later this year. Nick Salmon thinks the Government has been taken aback by the massive public response to the petition and sees moves afoot to tarnish estate agents so that the aim of the petition fails. 

"HIPs are unloved by the property industry and unwanted by the public. They will become even more unpopular in June when the Government plans to end the ability of a seller to go on the market immediately they want to. Our petition against the ending of this 'first day marketing' concession is in the Top 20 by size of over 7,700 such petitions on the Number Ten Downing Street website. The implication of the CLG press release is that estate agents are in some way responsible for the fact that buyers don't see a HIP. They don't see it because they are not interested in seeing it and the suggestion is a blatant attempt by CLG to create a reason for ending first day marketing. If it wasn't potentially so serious, it would be laughable" 

ENDS

Further information and comment: Nick Salmon 07831 805455

Notes to Editors. 

1. Currently the marketing of a property can begin as soon as the HIP is ordered but the Government intends to end this concession on 31st May 2008 and will require that the pack is physically complete before marketing commences. Campaigners argue that because HIPs take days to produce there will be delays for sellers wanting to sell quickly and the ending of the concession to begin marketing on the chosen first day is an infringement of the personal liberty to sell a property at will. The petition http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/homeselling has already attracted almost 9,000 signatures. 

2. The SPLINTA (SELLERS PACK LAW IS NOT THE ANSWER) campaign is supported by over 1,900 firms of estate agents, surveyors and solicitor/conveyancers with some 4,000 offices in England and Wales. For more information please visit http://www.splintacampaign.co.uk  

3. The CLG press release is here:  http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/713987  

SPLINTA
P.O. Box 398
Stevenage
SG1 9DR

ARMED WITH THIS RELEASE TREVOR KENT APPEARED ON BBC RADIO ALONGSIDE SHADOW HOUSING MINISTER GRANT SHAPPS WHO HAD SHORTLY BEFORE DESCRIBED LABOUR PARTY SPIN ON HIPS AS A 'FARCE'. BETWEEN THEM THEY LEFT LISTENERS IN NO DOUBT THAT HOME INFORMATION PACKS MUST BE REPEALED. 

Trevor Kent
01753 885522

trevor@homeinformationpacks.com 

 


29th February 2008

From my postbag !

 

Dear Mr Thomas,

 
Many thanks for your kind words concerning my meagre efforts to bring some negative publicity to bear on this ridiculous initiative.
 
Enforcement is entrusted by the government to Trading Standards Officers in local councils. Strangely the government has told them they are to police private sellers (those not using estate agents) as well; particularly odd as the Trading Standards organisation is expressly set up to deal with people in business, not private individuals selling their own personal property.
 
Anecdotally there has been very little 'policing', not least because TSOs have little faith in the legislation themselves, seeing it as low priority and they have had little specialist training in HIPs rules and regulations.
 
It is a testament to the basic honesty and law-abiding nature of estate agents (not often publicly recognised) that they have accepted and introduced this nonsense law for the government, despite 95% having voted total and complete abhorrence of the new system in advance of introduction.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Trevor Kent
 
Sent: Friday, February 22, 2008 2:55 PM
Subject: HIPS

For the attention of Trevor Kent Esq.
 
Dear Sir
I write in support of your campaign against this ill considered legislation. Can you give me any indication as to whether this legislation is being enforced, by whom and to what degree. I would be most grateful for any information on this.
 
Richard Thomas

 

29th January 2008

VOTE HERE TO RETAIN FIRST DAY MARKETING

telegraph.co.uk

Home Information Packs 'to affect market'

By Harry Wallop, Consumer Affairs Correspondent

 

New rules regarding Home Information Packs could damage the fragile housing market, estate agents have warned.

From June sellers can only put their house on the market if they have a HIP, which cost between £300 and £500.

Critics claim some sellers are having to wait three weeks for a HIP, and that the new rule will slow down the process of selling a house at a time when the market has cooled.

Trevor Kent, former president of the National Association of Estate Agents and a campaigner against HIPs, said: "Now the Government is saying it is against the law to market your house until you have one of these packs. It is just not acceptable."

Splinta (Sellers' Pack Law is Not the Answer), a pressure group, has launched a petition on the 10 Downing Street website calling for the law to be left alone, which has attracted 2,645 signatures.

Grant Shapps, the shadow housing minister, said: "Caroline Flint, the new housing minister, could make her mark and ditch HIPs for good. They hamper the housing market and provide no advantages. Labour should listen to the experts and stop meddling in the property market."

A HIP contains a home's title deeds, local searches and an energy performance certificate.

The packs are supposed to speed up the house buying process by shifting the responsibility for compiling the documents from buyer to seller.

However, critics claim the pack does not include key documents such as a survey.

Gillian Charlesworth, policy director at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said: "It has not improved the buying process. There is the cost of the pack, which is full of holes and now the delay in waiting for the pack."

 

Trevor Kent
25th January 2008

HIPs, A PLEA FOR YOUR HELP - FROM TREVOR KENT 

  

Dear Homeowner, Homeseller or Homebuyer

 

If you are planning to sell a home any time in the future, you'll want to know this.

 

Despite massive opposition, the infamous and costly Home Information Pack has now been introduced for all residential properties coming to the market to be sold (and soon those to be let too).  They cost £300 to £600 and include a mandatory inspection of the interior of your home - and you still pay even if you don't sell.

 

Currently the government allows you to begin  marketing your home  as soon as the property's  HIP is 'ordered'.  However, Gordon Brown intends to end this concession on 31st May 2008.  The Law will then require that your HIP is physically complete before an advert can be placed or a board erected.  This will mean you may have to wait 15 days before the first viewer can inspect your home.  Mr Brown's new law also directs that the owner or agent be fined  £200 a day if caught marketing before the HIP arrives.

 

This is what you can do about it...

 

There is now an approved petition on the No 10 Downing Street website calling for 'First Day Marketing' to be allowed to continue.  Please sign it online and also forward this email to as many people as you can, especially friends and colleagues who may be thinking of buying or selling a home in the future.

 

Write to your MP pointing out you believe a fine for putting your home on the market when YOU want to is an infringement of your liberty.  If Labour believe they will lose votes and jeopardize their re-election, they may think again.  The Conservatives have already pledged to repeal HIPs.

 

Here's the link to the petition: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/homeselling

 

Many thanks for your support.

 

TREVOR KENT

Former President of The National

Association of Estate Agents &

Property Broadcaster

www.homeinformationpacks.com

01753 885522

 

Trevor Kent
11th January 2008

The Fight Goes On

 

In the House of Lords next Wednesday (16 January) Lord Dixon-Smith will move a Motion to annul the Home Information Pack (Amendment) Regulations 2007 which were laid in the House of Commons on 23 November 2007.  If Lord Dixon-Smith's motion is carried, a Humble Petition will be presented to Her Majesty The Queen calling for annulment.  

 

3rd January 2008

Communities and Local Government Committee Departmental Annual Report 2007

Thursday 3 January 2008

The decision to delay the introduction of Home Information Packs (HIPS) was taken on political rather than economic grounds, the Communities and Local Government Select Committee concludes today.

In its report on the DCLG Annual Report 2007 the Committee criticises the introduction of HIPs saying it was one of the areas where the Department failed to deliver. However the Committee commends the Department in a number of other areas of its work.

MPs say the decisions to delay and then to phase in HIPs for homes of different sizes across a period of months owed more to a failure of nerve, "in the face of vocal opposition from the press and others rather than the general conditions prevailing in the housing market."

CLG Committee Chairman Dr Phyllis Starkey said: "The long and tortuous process of introducing Home Information Packs signals a failure of delivery on CLG's part. It is clear the reasons for this lie in poor preparation and then a retreat by the Department's ministerial team."

More generally, the Committee recognises the Department faces difficult challenges because to a greater degree than perhaps any other Government Department CLG depends on others to deliver what it promises.

The Committee commends the work CLG has done with its partners on the Decent Homes programme, which it describes as an outstanding example of local government delivery.

The Committee is also encouraged that the overall number of accidental fire-related deaths has fallen to 227 in 2006-7 from 349 in 1998-9. However it notes that the time taken by fire services to respond to emergency calls is rising. In 2001 46 per cent of fires were responded to within five minutes but in 2006 that figure fell to 37 per cent. It would like to see more research into the impact of congestion on response times.

On race equality and community cohesion the Committee commends the introduction of a new sharper Public Service Agreement as part of the 2007 CSR process and it would like the Department to go even further and seek to influence change in local areas where cohesion is in question or where new threats to cohesion arise.

The Committee's Second Report of Session 2007-08-DCLG Annual Report 2007-will be published at 00.01 am on Thursday 3 January 2007.

Copies can be obtained on request from the Communities and Local Government Committee. Copies of the Report will be sent to all those who submitted evidence to the inquiry.

The Report can be viewed on the Committee's website from approximately noon on Thursday 3 January at: www.parliament.uk/clgcom <http://www.parliament.uk/clgcom>.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

In the Department's 2006 annual report HIPs were identified as a "key priority" for the coming year. Within weeks of this the then Secretary of State Ruth Kelly announced that the pack would not include a mandatory Home Condition Report, intended to save house buyers the cost and time spent purchasing expensive surveys of their own.

HIPs should have then been rolled out in June 2007 but were introduced two months late in August following considerable uncertainty and then only for homes with four or more bedrooms. Three-bedroomed homes were added in September, Only in December 2007 were the weakened HIPs being introduced for all homes marketed for sale.

Committee Membership is as follows: Dr Phyllis Starkey MP (Chair, Lab), Sir Paul Beresford MP (Con), Mr Clive Betts MP (Lab), John Cummings MP (Lab), Jim Dobbin MP (Lab/Co-op), Andrew George MP (Lib Dem), Mr Greg Hands MP (Con), Anne Main MP (Con), Mr Bill Olner MP (Lab), Dr John Pugh MP (Lib Dem), Emily Thornberry MP (Lab).

 

3rd January 2008

Conservatives

 

Independent report slams Labour for playing politics with HIPs

 

Responding to the annual Communities and Local Government Select Committee report which concludes that the delay to introducing Home Information Packs (HIPs) was taken on political rather than economic grounds, Shadow Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, said:

 

"Gordon Brown promised a new open type of politics yet this report slams Labour for playing politics with HIPs. The Government has buried the unfavourable results from their £4m HIPs trials by refusing to release them. The shambolic and secretive way in which Yvette Cooper has rolled out this botched policy is a disgrace.

 

"At a time when the housing market needs certainty and stability Labour provided chaos and confusion. Yvette Cooper should release the results of the HIPs’ trials, apologise to hard pressed home owners, and scrap this hated policy. The market doesn't need HIPs, the industry doesn't want them and consumers don't care about them.

 

“Labour should perform one of their trademark climbdowns and axe a policy which is increasingly strangling a struggling housing market."

 

ENDS

For further information, please contact Giles Kenningham 020 7984 8186 or 07765407903. Please find attached the Communities and Local Government Select

 

Notes to Editors

TEN WAYS HOME INFORMATION PACKS AREN’T VERY INFORMATIVE

 

The Government’s Home Information Pack regulations make a distinction between information that is ‘required’ in the Pack (compulsory elements) and that which is ‘authorised’ (optional). It is up to the seller whether to pay to include optional information.

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/SI/si2007/20071667.htm#8

 

In addition to licensing blight, Home Information Packs fail to require home sellers to include information on:

 

  1. Subsidence, ground stability and the effects of mining or extractions.

 

  1. Flood risk and other actual or potential environmental hazards.

 

  1. Electrical safety of the wiring

 

  1. Any restrictive covenants, including restrictions on resale or restrictions on use.

 

  1. Liabilities to repair or maintain other buildings or land, not within the property itself (e.g. church property – under chancel repair liability).

 

  1. Acquisition of any neighbouring land (other than the property itself) by a public authority that affects or might affect the property.

 

  1. The potential or actual effects of existing transport services, including roads, waterways, trams and underground or over-ground railways (e.g. noise problems)

 

  1. Near to any new planned road or highway, where such a development is more than 200 metres from the property.

 

  1. Whether the property has failed to meet building or safety standards, and whether or not the property has any warranty or guarantee for defects on its design or building.

 

  1. Rights of access to, over or affecting the property interest (e.g. can people walk through your land)

 

Government dropped plans to INCLUDE full flood risk information

 

The Environment Agency made representations for flood risk information to be included – yet the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (now the DCLG) dropped the plans. They previously Committee report.

said that including the information would be a key part of their plans against flooding:

 

“Home Information Packs have been developed to make the procedure for buying and selling homes in England and Wales easier and to bring pertinent information to the attention of those in the process of house buying. Defra is working closely with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Environment Agency to develop a suitable flood risk search for inclusion in the packs. As part of the overall HIPs work a consultation was held in Spring 2005, and a voluntary ‘dry-run’ of the home information pack will be carried out in Summer 2006 with a view to introducing these in early 2007.”

 

DEFRA, Increasing Awareness and Resilience to All Forms of Flooding Including Through Improved Flood Warning, October 2005.

http://www.defra.gov.uk/environ/fcd/policy/strategy/rf5rf6rf7.htm

 

 

 

WARNINGS IGNORED ON DIRTY LAND RISKS

 

The Council of Property Search Organisations has advised, “following extensive and detailed discussions during 2005, it was agreed by Government that flood, ground stability and other environmental searches should be ‘authorised’ for inclusion in the HIP and not required.  If this position is to be reviewed, we urge Government to consider carefully what environmental information should be included in the HIP to protect home buyers from being liable for high clean-up costs.  The inclusion of flood and ground stability information alone does not go far enough in informing homebuyers about environmental risks and fails to recognise the threat from contamination. Contamination poses a risk to both the health of the occupants and the value of the property. If contamination is found, liability for cleaning the site rests with the owner, and clean-up costs sometimes reach hundreds of thousands of pounds” (para 18-19).

 

Council of Property Search Organisations, CoPSO's response to CLG's HIPs update: Towards 1 June, February 2007.

http://www.copso.org.uk/publications/index.html

 

2nd January 2008

Trevor Kent

 
The Communities and Local Government Select Committee (a group of MPs from all parties who scrutinise the work of the Dept of Communities and Local Government) is expected to say in a report to be published at noon on 3rd January that this government department has made a mess of HIPs.
 
It is likely to be particularly critical of the DCLG's refusal to publish the results of a government sponsored trial of HIPs carried out before the policy was implemented. Commentators such as I suspect the results of the trials (which cost taxpayers £4m) were so negative that a decision was made to bury the bad news and plough on regardless.
 
The decision to implement the legislation in stages is also likely to be criticised by the Committee, as it caused uncertainty for both the public and professionals charged with trying to understand  and introduce the botched concept.
 
This report will be of no help to thousands of estate agents trying to make sense of the legislation in the face of disinterest and sometimes outright opposition from house sellers and buyers. When one considers that this Committee had, in  previous years, considered the whole concept of Home Information Packs and advised the government to call a halt to the scheme at an early stage and were ignored, they are hardly likely to ruffle many feathers in Housing Minister Yvette Coopers nest now. More's the pity.

 

Trevor Kent
17 December 2007

RIGHTMOVE HIGHLIGHTS GOVERNMENT WRONG MOVE ON HIPS

"We told you so, Minister" said Trevor Kent former President of the National Association of Estate Agents today, in reaction to Rightmove figures (embargoed 0001 Monday December 17) that a house price drop of 3.2% in a month has been linked directly to the introduction of HIPs to 1/2 bedroom homes last week.

 "In order to save the £350/£500 cost of a HIP that would have had to be paid before a  property could be put on the market after 13th December, sellers have come to the market earlier than they would really have wished to save upfront costs" he says, "over supply at any time always causes price concerns, but a sudden increase of 10% in listings in just a week has caused havoc in the market " he continues.

 Portends for 2008 were already dire with the beginnings of a mortgage famine caused by the chickens of profligate uncontrolled lending over the last three years finally coming home to roost, Kent believes. This, combined with interest rate hikes in prospect for those coming out of fixed rate deals in 2008, and the forecast of lenders taking possession likely to triple,  means very little season of good cheer following the festive season this year.

 "Quite how Gordon Brown could contemplate stoking the fire of  further price reductions in the housing market  by proceeding  with the final  run out of HIPs, is beyond me" says Trevor Kent. "One would have thought he would do everything he could to bolster prices, especially as he won't want to see Northern Rock's mortgage book fall further in to negative equity, surely".  

 Rightmove claimed today a price reduction of £7590  for the average house in December of which nearly  £2000 can be attributed directly to HIPs.

 End

 

 
Trevor Kent is former president of the National Association of Estate Agents and a regular property market commentator.
 
01753 885522
ISDN Radio by arrangement

 

NAEA
14 December 2007

Home Information Packs: Views of practitioners still divided – Lords Committee

HIPS 

As everyone should be aware, from today all residential properties coming onto the market require a HIP unless they come under one of a small number of exceptions.  There is still some confusion over properties currently requiring a HIP.  The  NAEA re-iterate that ,providing the property was marketed before the relevant date, a HIP is currently not required and no decision has been made as to when this may change.  Anyone telling you differently is incorrect.

Home Information Packs: Views of practitioners still divided – Lords Committee

The House of Lords Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee has today published a range of comments from practitioners in the housing market, which show that views about HIPs are still divided.

The Government has introduced HIPs for sales of residential properties in three phases: four-bedroom properties from 1 August 2007; three-bedroom properties from 10 September; and all properties from 14 December.

Regulations laid in late-November provide that, until 1 June 2008, while the lease must be included in the HIP, other leasehold documents will not have to be included.  The documents in question include property management rules, summaries of service charges, and requests for payments towards matters such as ground rent and building damage insurance. 

In its comments on these Regulations, the Merits Committee recognises that the Government has laid them in order to lessen the burden which the HIP requirements place on those marketing homes.  But the Committee also recalls its concern about the original policy that, without the mandatory inclusion of Home Condition Reports, HIPs might imperfectly achieve the objective of providing home-buyers with better information.

The Committee has received comments from a number of interested parties: the Association of Home Information Pack Providers; the Council for Mortgage Lenders; the Council of Property Search Organisations; the Law Society; the National Association of Estate Agents; the Royal Institution of Charted Surveyors; and the WWF. Practitioners in the housing market are split in their response to the HIP initiative in general, and the effects of the latest Regulations in particular. 

The Committee urges the Government to keep the implementation of HIP policy under review and to provide full information about the practical effects of its introduction.

In its report on the Home Information Pack (Amendment) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/3301), the Merits Committee reviews the changes that the Government have made to the content and timing of their HIP policy over the last year, and draws on comments made to it by a number of interested organisations.    The Committee has reported the Regulations on the ground that they “give rise to issues of public policy likely to be of interest to the House”.

The Committee report is published by The Stationery Office as HL Paper 24 and is available online at:  http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/merits.cfm

 

NAEA
13 December 2007

HIPS SHAMBLES CONTINUES

Packs rolled out for all properties from tomorrow 

The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) is reiterating its concern over home information packs (HIPs) as the industry prepares for tomorrow’s roll out to all properties newly entering the market. 

Stewart Lilly, President at the NAEA, comments: “This is a highly clumsy piece of legislation and we remain absolutely convinced that HIPs are not the way to improve the home buying and selling process or to deliver the important energy performance certificates (EPCs).  

“Time and time again the industry has advised the government against the Packs. We only hope that at some stage it starts listening. At the moment – EPCs aside – HIPs are just wasting everyone’s time. 

“Unfortunately, this shambles is set to cause problems for a while to come. The immediate worry is exactly how the Packs will impact on the market. Following the first two phases of the implementation we’ve already seen a decline in the number of new instructions available. What further damage HIPs will cause remains to be seen. 

“Looking forward, we are particularly worried about how the government proposes to deal with the issue of first day marketing from June next year. We are also waiting to hear about how the inclusion of all leasehold information will actually be dealt. 

“A complete mess has been made with this legislation. It really would be in everyone’s best interests to scrap HIPs.”

- Ends -  

 

Trevor Kent
22 November 2007

HIPS FOR ALL A SERIOUS MISTAKE - TREVOR KENT

HOME INFORMATION PACKS FOR ALL PROPERTIES FROM 14TH DECEMBER SAY GOVERNMENT TODAY -  BREATHTAKING OBSTINACY SAYS NAEA FORMER PRESIDENT.

Trevor Kent long-term opponent of Home Information Packs has reacted with incredulity to news today that HIPs will apply to all homes from 14th December. 

"Quite how the government can consider proceeding with a policy virtually every property professional in the land has ridiculed, is beyond me" he says.  "On August 1st  4 bedroom and above were hit, with 3 bedroom homes incorporated on 10th  September.  The experience of this partial implementation had already proved HIPs to be an ineffective, unnecessary and expensive intrusion into the market and resulted in a 35% reduction in properties coming on to agents' lists", he continued.

"Vendors are very unhappy to pay £350 - £700 for HIP reports, listing personal information on them and their homes and incorporating the Energy Performance Certificate, especially when they learn what is happening to the reports once prepared - nothing.  Prospective purchasers have no interest in reading them, and their solicitors are actively asking that the Packs are NOT sent to them when a sale is agreed.  Lenders have always indicated they would not rely on Pack information prepared by sellers and this is certainly the case in practice" says the former president of the National Association of Estate Agents. 

It is already an offence to market 3 bedroom + homes without a HIP having first been ordered and paid for (Local Councils can fine £200 if an owner or agent is caught), from 14th December bedsits, 1 and 2 bedroom homes will also fall under this draconian regime .

Trevor Kent concludes "the government's own pilot testing told them HIPs were a nonsense, reports from professional associations including The Law Society, the NAEA ,the RICS and the CML have confirmed that experience in spades, yet the government ignores them all and presses on - I'm flabbergasted at their arrogance and ignorance, it'll all end in tears".

End 

Trevor Kent has led Estate Agents against HIPs for ten years www.homeinformationpacks.com  and as past president of the NAEA regularly broadcasts on the property scene.

01753 885522
trevor@trevorkentmedia.com
ISDN QUALITY RADIO AVAILABLE

 

iammoving.com
22 November 2007

Over Half of Home-Moves Reconsidered, Thanks to HIPs

 

A recent survey carried out by the UK's only free online change of address service,  iammoving.com has revealed that HIPS make over one half of affected home-owners think twice about moving or prevent a move all together. Click on link for article.

Trevor Kent
14th November 2007

YES MINISTER, YOU'LL BE A PLAGUE ON ALL OUR HOUSES

 

WILL HIPS BE BROADENED SOON BY DCLG? 

Trevor Kent, former president of the National Association of Estate Agents and a prominent critic of HIPs, questions whether the government is likely to widen the scope of HIPs on Friday, by incorporating all homes rather than 3 bedroom and larger.  And if they do - why?

"Every professional involved in having to explain and introduce  HIP legislation to buyers and sellers has the same story to tell of their experiences of the first 12 weeks - sellers don't want to buy them, purchasers can't be bothered to look at them, conveyancing solicitors will have nothing to do with them and lending institutions have marginalized them, yet the government just press on regardless.  Is it that they haven't learnt from experience, or  perhaps they just don't want to? ".

For a government to blatantly ignore the advice of the Law Society, the RICS, the NAEA and the CML for the best part of 10 years, that to implement HIPs legislation would lead property market melt-down, would be regarded by most as irresponsible in the extreme.  That is unless the government knew something the professional institutions did not; that melt-down was coming anyway. Was it perhaps that the great economic model whirring away in Whitehall had already told them 3 years before that interest rates would have to rise at least five times in 2007, and that two million borrowers were to come off low fixed rate mortgages at the same time?  Did the Bank of England perhaps tell them too, in that same year that lending institutions had ignored the shocks of the early nineties and once again were lending in a profligate and irresponsible manner, and that the unthinkable - a run on a mortgage lender/bank might happen? If my theory is right,  then championing a policy, however unpopular, that would ensure a 30% reduction in stock (as has clearly happened) on or about a putative election time, when everything else around them was conspiring to cause a property market crash, seems a brilliant strategy.

What it means for harassed home-owners is another matter all together. A cheque or promissory note will soon have to be written by every person wishing to market their home, a Domestic Energy Assessor will force their way in to every property in England and Wales (and soon Scotland too) to prepare a useless Energy Performance Certificate. The HIP will tell all and sundry whether a home is mortgaged, who owns it, how much it was bought for and what restrictions are placed by covenant on its use. If any home owner starts  to market their home without a HIP they become a law-breaker subject to fines, if their agent tries to market their home before the HIP arrives they  can be fined AND banned from practicing.  And for what? A 1000 members recently told the NAEA that no purchasers had bothered to look at a HIP, and that buyers' solicitors requested that the HIPs should not be sent to them as they wished to search the information themselves to better protect their clients.


"What possible reason is there for the government to persist with the continued roll-out of a totally discredited and vilified initiative, spun with lies and anecdotal 'success stories' which have been proved by the house sales industry  to be total fabrication? " asks Trevor Kent, "unless there is a greater long-term goal , that by discouraging sellers from putting their homes on the market with fines, they will avert a greater property catastrophe and thereby stand a chance, however slim, of re-election.  What a rum old business politics is to be sure, and as usual, it's the public who pays".

Unless we see some new Orders and Regulations from the government in the next week or so, as of 1 Jan 2008 we agents will have to explain to sellers that we cannot market their homes for 14 days or until the HIP arrives. Just how is this going to go down with our clients, and why should we have have to do the government’s dirty work for them anyway?


And another thing, finance companies are refusing credit to sellers who score badly, thus they cannot pay for a HIP and therefore cannot legally market their homes. Their only way out of spirraling debt is to sell their homes, yet the government won't let them put a for sale board up without first paying for a HIP. Truly a case of Big Brother meets Catch 22 with fines thrown in. 


  

End

TREVOR KENT is former president of the NAEA, and a regular commentator on the housing market.
 
01753 885522
BigT@trevorkentmedia.com
www.homeinformationpacks.com

ISDN Radio by appointment

 

NAEA
24th October 2007

Blatant lack of substance characterises latest CLG HIPs communication
Facts and figures needed to back up claims, says NAEA

An email sent today by the department of Communities and Local Government on home information packs is misleading and completely lacking substance, according to the National Association of Estate Agents. The letter talks of the “smooth implementation” of HIPs and the “good feedback from agents and consumers” but lacks any facts or figures to support these claims. Meanwhile, the picture being reported by agents on the ground is in fact very different.

Both NAEA President Stewart Lilly and Chief Executive Peter Bolton King were astounded by the claims made today, as evidence would suggest the market is in fact being affected by HIPs. Surveys conducted by both the NAEA and RICS recorded a drop in the number of 4 bedroom plus properties on the market following the first phase implementation of HIPs. 63% of NAEA agents surveyed reported decreases over and above the seasonal norm of on average 37%. Meanwhile, 53% of RICS respondents noted a decrease in 4 bedroom, or larger properties, coming onto the market with new instructions falling by an average of 51%.

In addition to this, agents have been reporting delays in the time taken to put the Packs together and a general lack of interest from consumers. One NAEA member from South Wales commented in a recent survey: “HIPs have without doubt not speeded up the house selling and buying process.” Another from Yorkshire added: “The public appear to be disinterested in HIPs, which are an 'unavoidable nuisance'”.

Stewart Lilly comments: “This latest communication from the government is blatant spin. It lacks any substance whatsoever – if there are in fact statistics to back up the claims then we would urge the CLG to make them public to save further embarrassment. We obviously welcome relevant information being released by government and would expect at least a balanced view that accepts that there are problems.

"The implied message from the CLG is that everything since the introduction of HIPs for 3 and 4 bedroomed properties is wonderful and rosy,” continues Stewart. “Our members are continually reporting to us that this is not the case. A number of HIP Providers are not supplying packs as quickly as promised. There are on going problems surrounding the supply of searches and their acceptance by the legal profession. Leasehold information is, as we expected, slow to obtain. Perhaps most worryingly the public are expressing little interest in this watered down HIP."

Peter Bolton King added: "The above problems clearly show that it is ridiculous to suggest that the implementation is trouble free. In addition, whilst saying that it is "monitoring the impact of HIPs", the CLG does not bother to make any comment on the effect HIPs are having on the market. The NAEA and others believe that there is clear evidence that new instructions in England and Wales are way below the normally expected levels even taking into account the slightly slower market caused by the interest rate rises. The government says that there is good feedback from consumers. Where is the evidence for this and why has there still been no publication of the HIP trial data? One can only assume that the government does not like what the results are telling them?"

Stewart Lilly concludes: “The reduction in supply following the initial launch of HIPs is set to have a significant impact on agents’ businesses. Ironically, the government itself stands to lose by this – its own forecasters reported last year that if there was more than a 10% reduction in the number of housing transactions in England and Wales then the government could lose as much as £3.5 billion. A sobering thought surely, even for a department desperate to save face by ploughing on with a useless initiative. Once again we urge: scrap HIPs and let energy performance certificates stand alone in their own right, as the only sensible part of the whole HIPs scheme.”

- Ends -

 

Trevor Kent  
16th October 2007

Conservatives get the Ball Rolling on ousting Cooper's HIPs


Trevor Kent, former president of the National Association of Estate Agents and a fervent anti-HIP campaigner expressed delight today at the firm stance taken by Grant Shapps MP, the Shadow Housing Minister, in preparing the Civil Service and existing HIPs businesses for the reversal of HIPs post election.

He said "the Conservatives have consistently recognised this legislation to be the most inept bungling interventionism the property market has ever seen.  Yvette Cooper's introduction of HIPs has been conceived by amateurs and implemented by dullards not fit to run a corner shop, let alone the largest financial market in the country.  The ramifications of the HIPs debacle has hit the very fabric of economic life in England and Wales, and Scotland won't be long behind if Labour continues its 'deaf-ear' policy to professional advice from we who know ".

Grant Shapps’ letters today set out a warning to the Department for Communities and Local Government that the legislative reversal will be swift and that they best have a policy ready to minimise the disruption come the election.  In his second letter to AHIPP, an organisation only recently set up at the behest of the DCLG and with one of their ex-staff at its head, to represent big business 'HIP-sellers'  he asked them to warn their member to basically 'look for another job'. 

Trevor Kent concludes, "its a sad day when an opposition party is forced to put the jobs and investment of others on the line, but their firm decisiveness is needed when the property market is put at terminal risk by a government who has clearly lost the will to live itself".

End

Trevor Kent, former President of The National Association of Estate Agents was today made an Honorary Life Member of the Association.
He has broadcast and written on the property market for 20 years and consistently campaigned against Home Information Packs.

01753 885522
www.homeinformationpacks.com
trevor@trevorkent.com
ISDN Radio by arrangement 

 

16th October 2007

Conservatives

 

Shapps: HIPs have no future under a Conservative Government

Shadow Housing Minister Grant Shapps has written to the Association of Home Information Pack Providers and the Department for Communities and Local Government to give them advance warning that a future Conservative Government will scrap HIPs.  

Shadow Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:  

“All the early evidence is that, as predicted, the introduction of HIPs is having a negative impact on homebuyers and sellers. Gordon Brown should have scrapped this pointless and costly bureaucracy long ago rather than risking the health of the property market when it is needed least.  

“Experts, the industry and the public have long opposed this unnecessary piece of red tape. We want to give clarity to the industry that HIPs have no future under a Conservative Government.”  

ENDS

LETTERS ARE REPRODUCED BELOW:

Peter Housden
Department for Communities and Local Government
Eland House
Bressenden Place
London SW1E 5DU

15th October 2007

 

As you will be aware, the Conservative Party has publicly stated that the next Conservative Government will scrap Home Information Packs.

Please find enclosed a letter that I have written to the Association of Home Information Pack Providers making the Conservative Party position    clear.

This gives 'notice' with regards our intention to cancel the assorted contracts between DCLG and HIPs-related firms and consultants, and the agreement with Landmark Information Group. I therefore write to urge you to take the necessary steps to put in place a contingency plan as regards any impact that the abolition of HIPs may have on the Government, Civil Service and HIPs-related firms and consultants.

It should be noted that the Conservative Party have pledged to keep Energy Performance Certificates.

I look forward to your response. 

Yours sincerely 

 

Grant Shapps MP
Shadow Housing Minister

 


Mike Ockenden
Director General
Association of Home Information Pack Providers
55 The Ridgeway
Market Harborough
Leicestershire
LE16 7HG

Monday, 15 October 2007

Dear Mike,

As you may be aware, I have recently signalled that the next Conservative Government will scrap Home Information Packs.

We have always argued against the introduction of HIPs and have voted against them at every stage in Parliament, I therefore hope that it will not have come as a surprise to learn that we intend to scrap what is widely considered to be controversial and ineffective legislation, which adds to the bureaucratic red-tape involved in selling houses.

Since your organisation represents those involved in the selling of HIPs I thought it appropriate to write to you to provide advance warning of our intention to abolish HIPs and I therefore urge you to circulate this letter to your members in order that they can best plan for their own futures.

I do fully appreciate that some individuals and organisations have invested a great deal of time and money in training to provide HIPs services and I am therefore most concerned about the way in which this Government has led them up a garden path.  In particular I was troubled to note that the Government’s own income projections for a trained HIPs inspector would seem to far exceed their likely real income. I believe that the Government owes your members and apology and called on the Housing Minister to issue such an apology in a debate in the House last Wednesday.

Although I believe that HIPs are fundamentally flawed, we do agree that Energy Performance Certificates have an important part to play in ensuring that homes become more environmentally friendly over time. We will therefore keep EPCs, but will work to ensure that EPC certificates can be provided conveniently and at low cost. This will help to ensure that more home-owners obtain an EPC, even if they are not about to sell their houses.

I will of course be looking at whether there are any useful transitional arrangements that could be put in place to help ease uncertainty over HIPs for your members; however it is only right to ask you to convey our plans to your members in order that they can plan ahead.

Yours sincerely

Grant Shapps MP
Shadow Housing Minister

 

 

October 2007

Conservatives

 

Conservatives commit to scrapping the Government's failed Home Information Packs and easing Stamp Duty. Speaking at Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool , Shadow Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:

"The government says we need more homes. I agree.  But, this Government thinks the answer is to command housing targets from above.  And when communities object, with genuine concerns, they simply bulldoze the development through anyway.  

My constituency of Welwyn Hatfield is a perfect example. We're more than happy to create 6,000 new homes, but residents were stunned when the Government announced a further 4,000 properties should be built.  No sustainability study, no additional infrastructure and with the local hospital under threat.  And as for Brown's pledge that he would protect the Green Belt - no prizes for guessing where all those additional properties would be built.  When we protest, the Housing Minister calls us "Shocking" Nimbys.  Someone really should have told her that even the local Labour Party supports our campaign! Mind you, if she had looked in her own back yard, she might have noticed that six of her own Cabinet colleagues are objecting to new developments in theirs.  

The truth is this government sees ordinary people as an irritant... local communities as a problem... and their grand Whitehall masterplan as the solution.  But their big stick approach is failing...Home ownership is falling for the first time since records began. Mortgage repossessions and the number of people living in temporary accommodation have doubled since Labour came to power.  Meanwhile over 300,000 families with children live in cramped, unhealthy conditions and half-a-million homes are over-crowded.  The government announced that it would build 9,000 eco-homes - but they've managed just 900.  Labour said they'd help those on lower incomes and yet they've built less social housing than we did ever year under both John Major and Margaret Thatcher.  And as result the number of households on waiting lists has gone up by 60% under New Labour.  This government said it would build 200,000 houses every year. They fell well short but have now simply dreamt up an even bigger number - which they have no chance of delivering.  So when Gordon Brown grabs the headlines by raising his own targets, this time to build 3m homes by 2020 - do you believe him?  We can do better.  And today I can tell you how...We're going to recast the relationship between target-obsessed central government and bring power back to local people.  We'll incentivise local communities; so it's in their interest to create exciting new developments, built as a result of greater local democracy, not by crushing the very spirit of the democratic process.  And we'll start with an understanding that while people have very real concerns, with the right incentives they will act to improve their communities by creating more homes.  And we'll engage local residents so they are instrumental in the 'look and feel' of their new community, and they'll decide how areas will benefit from development.  I pledge to you today that we'll scrap the government's flawed density targets which force people to live on top of one another, creating the shortage of family homes - with all the resulting social consequences.  And I know that you share my concern over the practice of 'garden grabbing', so we'll change planning rules to recognise that brownfield does not mean your neighbours garden.

You know, this Government wanted to streamline the home-buying process, making it less bureaucratic and fairer. So what did they do?... They forced Home Information Packs upon us. They didn't listen when we said that HIPS are clumsy, ineffective and useless. And they had to bypass parliamentary scrutiny to force them through. The experts ridiculed them, the industry doesn't want them; the market doesn't need them; and I can announce to you today that the next Conservative Government - will scrap them.  

You see, we do understand and we do listen, and we know that our young people now cannot afford to get onto the property ladder - the number of first-time buyers has fallen to the lowest rate in 3 decades.  So to help the next generation get a foothold on the ladder, this week we've announced that we'll abolish Stamp Duty for first-time buyers on homes under £250,000. 9 out of 10 first-time buyers would no longer pay any Stamp Duty and we will be helping 200,000 young people realise their dream of owning their first home.  

And we want to extend home ownership to more people...So today I can also announce that we will introduce new schemes to reward 5 years of good tenant behaviour with an equity share in their social housing. 

This Government is leaving a generation behind; their hopes and aspirations crushed under Labour's clunking boot. It doesn't have to be that way. Imagine if the incentives to build new homes outweighed community reservations. Imagine if infrastructure actually led development, rather than being a casual afterthought.  

Imagine if local people actually benefited from more local houses, because their sons and daughters could live in the new homes. Imagine local politicians actually getting elected on the basis of improving services by backing new homes? Giving people more opportunity and power over their lives. With one district vying with another to gain consent to begin popular local house-building. How many more homes could we build as a nation?  Not through national building targets and a big stick, but because local people demand better services and more homes. And local councillors know that it is in their interest to deliver.  

This Labour Government has failed to build houses to match its previous lower targets, yet bizarrely it now wants you to believe that they can build even more.

They can't.

We will.

ENDS

 

Trevor Kent  
25th September 2007

ANOTHER FROM MY POST BAG

 

Fortunately in another postbag this appeared from Les Pook, he subsequently asked me to add  HIS qualifications - so here goes, BSc,PhD,CEng,CSci,FIMechE,FIMMM 

 

Dear Mr Kent

 
I am an engineer, and came across the address of your website in a letter in 'Professional Engineering'. Some weeks ago I downloaded 'The Government's Standard Assessment Procedure for Energy Rating of Dwellings' to see what all the fuss was about, and quickly came to the conclusion that Energy Performance Certificates were rubbish. In considering whether to buy I house I would ignore an Energy Performance Certificate. I would certainly not follow any recommendations without careful consideration. My two pet aversions are.
 
Installing cavity wall insulation in an old house (ours was built in 1955 and has been extended four times) is asking for trouble because this can lead to damp penetration, which would be disruptive and expensive to rectify.
 
Low energy light bulbs are a con. Effective equivalents with tungsten bulbs are much less than quoted on packaging. For example, a 20 W low energy bulb is equivalent to a 60 W tungsten bulb, not 100 W. In addition, low energy bulbs won't fit into some luminaires, and only very low wattage low energy candle bulbs are available.
 
You might be interested to know that there is a petition calling for tax rebates on gardens that haven't been paved over at:
 
 
I could go on, but had better stop.
 
Regards
 
Les Pook  BSc,PhD,CEng,CSci,FIMechE,FIMMM

 

Trevor Kent  
24th September 2007

FROM MY POST BAG

 

" There follows an extract from my mailbag containing a challenge, which, for those of you who know me better than Mr Bryan clearly does, I found totally irresistible!"

 
As this 'unqualified' estate agent and anti-Hip campaigner will be busy today at The House of Commons meeting the Shadow Housing Minister to discuss in detail the HIP disaster, has anyone else got the time to address any of his myriad myopic events?" Trevor Kent,   Monday 24th September.
 

Mr Kent

Rarely have I read such an ill-researched and inaccurate diatribe as the rubbish on your home page.  I am a trainee Energy Assessor and Home Inspector, already educated to post-graduate (BA, MA, MEd) level, and am working, naturally, towards my HI qualification – the equivalent of another degree.  I shall therefore be far better qualified to work in my new profession than you are in yours.  That does NOT (repeat NOT) make me “dodgy”.

HIPs have not, as you well know, led to a 50% reduction in the housing market.  The current reduction is partly due to natural annual cyclic movements in the market, and very largely due to a reduction in householders ‘testing the waters’ by putting there properties on the market with no firm intention of selling.  Taking these into account, the ‘HIP effect’ accounts for a market reduction of 4% or 5%.

The cost is not £500: a little market research will reveal prices from £249, with the average price HIP for a 4- (or more) bedroom house being around £400.

Transaction times ARE reduced: gazumping HAS been reduced – see research by Consumers Association (who, incidentally, are still in full favour of HIPs with compulsory HCRs).  In addition, see results from European countries (eg France ), and from USA .

 If you look at the Prime Ministers website, there are currently 3 e-petitions against the HIPs, and 1 in favour.  Count all the signatories and you will find that those in favour outnumber, by about 5 to 1, those against.

The Telegraph, along with the Daily Mail, purport to be against HIPs.  Why, then, does the Telegraph own a HIP providing company, and why does the Mail also own one, along with ‘Landmark’, the database (NOT, as you incorrectly assert, owned by the government) which contains details of all properties and their HIPs?

I could go on, but you probably haven’t read this far in any case – it seems as if most of your comments are the results of a lack of reading, a closed mind and poor research.

I dare you to publish this email on your website.

 

Michael Bryan

 

Trevor Kent  
10th September 2007

GOVERNMENT SLIPS HIPs MK 111 IN FOR 3 BEDROOM HOMES

 

On the eve of the government's lemming-like progression of the nonsense that is HIPs to include 3 bedroom homes, The Telegraph accurately reports the chaos and futility of the scheme at http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/09/09/nrhips109.xml

 
Estate agents, solicitors, mortgage lenders and surveyors, both individually and through their respective professional bodies are expressing incredulity that Gordon Brown and his best political friend's wife Yvette Cooper, the Housing Minister, are pressing on  with the scheme as of 10th September. No one has a good word to say about Home Information Packs, they never have had. Before, criticism such as mine was belittled by legislators at the Department of Communities and Local Government not to mention their political bosses, as ' the rubbish you would expect from a publicity seeking self interest protecting estate agent' (nice turn of phrase from the Department, I always thought). But now its not just whimsy on my part, it's proven fact
 
The trouble is, I and thousands of others intimately involved in house sales day-to-day, were right. The scheme was doomed to fail from its first conception in 1998 with surrogate father Nick Rainsford. Time has not improved the concept, now watered down now to a shadow of its former self, but still an imposition on the public and has received pretty well universal condemnation..
 
It doesn't do what the government said on the box it would do. It does not speed up house sales, it does not help first time buyers, it does not lessen gazumping, it does not improve the green credentials of the housing stock.
 
However, here are the things Home Information Packs are doing, mysteriously never on the government's sales packaging. It has reduced property coming on the market by 50%, it is costing sellers £500 which is not mainly 'money that vendors would spend anyway later in the transaction' (according to DCLG publicity), owners are receiving visits from some very dodgy 'Energy Assessors' and seeing them searching and photographing every nook and cranny of their homes sometimes taking two hours over the visit.  Mortgage lenders are ignoring the reports and particularly the Searches within them. Worst of all, buyers can't even be bothered to look at them before making their offers!
 
However, there is of course, one winner - the government. They now have the beginnings of a data base of the size and condition of our homes which will grow at 2m properties a year, and for good measure an extra VAT income from 2m HIP fees!
 
The government introduced HIPs on 1st August without considering and publishing the results of dry runs they themselves had instigated in the months prior. They now widen the scope of HIPs to include millions more homes without evaluating the 4 bedroom initial launch. This would be an ignorant, irresponsible and naive action coming from some fledging provincial property company - but from our government - well, not for the first time, words fail me.
 
Trevor Kent is a former President of the National Association of Estate Agents and a constant critic of Home Information Packs. He is an estate agent in Gerrards Cross, Bucks. 
 
01753 885522
ISDN Radio Comment by arrangement

 

10 September 2007

Conservatives

Ministers impose 3-bed HIPs with no consultation, Impact Assessment or mandate

Reckless extension of Home Information Packs threatens to destabilise housing market

The Government was today accused to putting the stability of the housing market at risk and showing contempt for Parliament and industry - as Labour Ministers forced through an extension of Home Information Packs. From today, the new red tape will affect two-thirds of all private housing sales.  

Conservatives have written to Yvette Cooper, the Minister of Housing, criticising the lack of any Impact Assessment, Parliamentary scrutiny or mandate for this high-risk intervention in the housing market:  

·          There has been no formal consultation or Regulatory Impact Assessment by the Government on introducing HIPs in stages, despite the clear potential to distort the housing market.

·          The extension is happening despite warnings from the housing industry of a significant fall in 4 bedroom homes being put on the market.

·          The previous legislation making HIPs compulsory for 4+ bedroom homes, and the substantive regulations for HIPs, were voted against by the House of Lords in July, and will not be debated or voted on by the House of Commons until October.

·          No Parliamentary scrutiny or vote has taken place over the controversial extension to 3 bedroom homes. The legislation imposing HIPs for 3 bedroom homes, tabled during the Parliamentary recess, will also not be debated or voted upon until October.

 Grant Shapps MP, Shadow Minister for Housing, said:

“The first evidence of the impact of Home Information Packs confirms exactly what was predicted – a downturn in the number of homes being advertised. Now Labour Ministers want to play Russian Roulette with the housing market, by extending this red tape across two-thirds of all homes put up for sale.

“Labour has consistently refused to listen to all the warnings and is insisting on driving through 3 bedroom HIPs without bothering to carry out any kind of Impact Assessment or consultation. This demonstrates that Labour Ministers are recklessly putting the stability of the housing market at risk.

“If Gordon Brown really was listening to the people, he wouldn’t press ahead with this unpopular, costly and bureaucracy piece of legislation. Home Information Packs threatens to have a damaging and destabilising effect on the housing market.”

Notes to editors

Home Information Packs are compulsory for 3 bedroom homes from today. Rightmove estimate that 41 per cent of all homes for sale through estate agents in England & Wales are in the 3 bedroom category. This equates to around 80,000 newly marketed 3 bed homes a month. This is in addition to 35,000 a month 4 bedroom or more properties that have required a HIP to be commissioned if they were marketed from 1 August. The totals represent 66 per cent of properties being advertised.

HOUSING MARKET STABILITY AT RISK

The latest sales evidence by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has warned that HIPs have led to a downturn in the housing market for four bedroom homes. 53 per cent of respondents indicate a decrease in 4 bedroom or larger properties coming onto the market, with only 5 per cent of respondents indicating an increase. Respondents who recorded a fall found on average that new instructions fell by 51 per cent (RICS press release, 9 September 2007).

Research by Oxford Economic Forecasting in 2006 warned that HIPs will deter speculative sellers from the housing market, curtail the number of housing transactions, and so reduce labour mobility, cut consumer spending and increase the medium term level of unemployment (OEF, The Impact of Home Information Packs, 27 June 2006).

LACK OF PARLIAMENTARY SCRUTINY & MANDATE

The Housing Act 2004 (Commencement No. 9) ( England and Wales ) Order 2007, which introduces HIPs for 3 bedroom homes, was tabled before Parliament on 17 August. There is no ability for Parliament to vote on or revoke the legislation until October. http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2007/20072471.htm

The Home Information Pack (no.2) Regulations 2007 introduce the substantive legislative base for HIPs, and http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2007/20071667.htm, and the Housing Act 2004 (Commencement No. 8) (England and Wales) Order 2007 introduces HIPs for 4+ bedroom homes, http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2007/20071668.htm

The House of Lords passed a motion to revoke those two pieces of legislation on 18 July 2007.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200607/ldhansrd/text/70718-0005.htm

The House of Commons will be given the opportunity to vote on these until October – after they have come into effect.

LETTER TO YVETTE COOPER

Rt Hon Yvette Cooper MP,
Minster for Housing,
House of Commons,
London ,

Dear Yvette,  

I am writing to express my deep concern over the way in which the announcement for an extension of Home Information Packs, to cover three-bedroom homes, has been slipped out during the Parliamentary recess.

As you may know, the Commons has yet to even vote on the 4-bedroom Commencement Order or the Home Information Pack Regulations no.2; and whilst the Lords did vote on these – it voted against them. As such, the introduction of HIPs for 4-bedroom houses has no mandate from Parliament.

To compound this further the Government has now signalled its intension to extend the unpopular HIPs scheme to cover 3-bedroom houses from September 10th. However, since this announcement has been sneaked out during the Parliamentary recess, it means that MPs will not have the opportunity to consider the extension and pass the necessary Statutory Instrument (SI) until at least October – at which point it will be retrospective and is therefore an abuse of Ministerial privilege.

Furthermore, the phased introduction of HIPs is clearly substantially different from the original all-in-one approach. There has been a substantive change in public policy and operation of the scheme; and as such I believe that the Government has no secondary legislative mandate to introduce HIPs on 3-bed houses. Please could you explain why you have come to a different conclusion?

As you are aware controversy has surrounded HIPs from the outset with widespread criticism from home sellers and buyers, mortgage lenders, industry experts and a recent National Audit Office report which slammed the Government for employing consultants with financial interests in the scheme.

Bearing all the above in mind, I find it remarkable that you have authorised a further extension of HIPs without quantifying the impact of its recent introduction to the sale of all 4-bedroom houses. Indeed, there is growing evidence that house sales in this category have fallen markedly since HIPs were introduced at the beginning of August. Could you therefore confirm whether you have produced an Impact Assessment of 4-Bed HIPs or whether any further consultation has taken place?

Since the House of Commons has not been given the opportunity to consider and vote on this extension the Government’s insistence on pushing HIPs through during the Parliamentary recess is a further example of undemocratic governance. Will you agree that forcing through this unpopular, ill-considered and potential damaging legislation without proper Parliamentary scrutiny will in the end be counterproductive?

I am therefore writing to ask that you reconsider the way in which Parliament is being by-passed and more critically still, to respond to the additional burden that you are about to place on anyone buying or selling a 3-bedroomed house. In particular I would appreciate your comments on why the Government has seen fit to extend HIPs without any apparent attempt to analyse the significant impact to date on the housing market.

Yours ever,

Grant Shapps MP, Shadow Housing Minister”

 

ENDS

 
R I C S 
23rd August 2007

RICS spokesperson said:

 

"This is further evidence of the Government's flawed implementation of HIPs leaving even those with a financial vested interest in the extension of HIPs stunned at the Minister's rush.  

"Blindly pressing on without having conducted any market impact study is hardly in the best interests of consumers. 

"We need home buying reform, but the Government needs to step back and consider any evidence it has about implementation so far, in cooperation with the industry and other interested groups.

"The residential property market is far too important to the economy to take any risks in the current climate."

 

LAW SOCIETY

23rd August 2007

Law Society statement regarding use of personal searches in HIPs 

 

Law Society Vice President Paul Marsh has criticised the burden placed on solicitors to underwrite any risk to the buyer or the lender from the widespread use of personal searches in HIPs prepared by estate agents. He said, "It is not at all surprising that this problem has arisen. The Law Society has been telling government for the past two years that including personal searches in HIPs could lead to duplication and delay. It has been the standard practice of Lenders to try and make the conveyancer acting for the lender and the buyer underwrite accuracy of any search carried out by personal search companies. The HIPs scheme was meant to speed up the selling process. We continue to question whether HIPs will bring the consumer the benefits intended."

 

LAW SOCIETY
PRESS RELEASE

17th August 2007

Evaluate HIPs properly before extending scheme further says Law Society

 

The Law Society has today criticised the Government for failing to conduct a thorough review of the first phase of Home Information Packs (HIPs) and Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) before extending the scheme to smaller properties.

The Society’s concerns follow a Government announcement that HIPs and EPCs will be rolled out to three bedroom properties from 10 September.

The Society is arguing that it would be highly irresponsible to move to the next phase until there had been time for a more meaningful evaluation of the introduction of HIPs. The Law Society believes that a proper evaluation to accurately monitor the first implementation phase is essential before extending the scheme.

Paul Marsh, Law Society Deputy Vice President said: “We are deeply disappointed that the Government is continuing its cavalier approach to HIPs and the home buying process.  It is far too early to be sure how the introduction of HIPs has worked in practice.”

It is impossible for the Government to have taken into account the operation of HIPs in the market following their introduction during the quiet August market, particularly given the fact that the first phase of the scheme only applies to 17% of the total market.”

“The Government needs to wait to ensure that the first tranche of HIPs has operated successfully before considering rolling it out to smaller properties, rather than rushing ahead prematurely. October would be a more acceptable earliest date for the introduction of HIPs, so that in September a full review of the introduction of HIPs could take place.”

“There have already been enough uncertainties over the arrangements for the introduction of HIPs.  It is in everyone’s interest to ensure that those problems are not repeated in any subsequent roll out.”

The Government appears to be bowing to pressure from those with a primary financial interest in the HIPs market while there has been no formal communication to the other established stakeholders such as RICS, NAEA and the Law Society.

The Law Society is urging solicitors to prepare fully for the extended scope of HIPs and for further extension thereafter to all properties.

ENDS

 

NAEA PRESS RELEASE
17th August 2007

NAEA UNEASY OVER SECOND PHASE IMPLEMENTATION OF HIPs SO SOON!

  

Today the Government announced that Home Information Packs and Energy Performance Certificates will be launched for three bedroom properties in England and Wales from Monday 10th September 2007 .

 Peter Bolton King, Chief Executive at the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), comments: “The NAEA has consistently expressed concerns regarding the implementation of HIPS as there still remains a shortfall of qualified energy assessors taking the exams.  We did anticipate the second phase to be in the Autumn, but with this announcement it now appears that the Government may try and include all dwellings by the end of the year!  This will continue to place uncertainty into an already delicate residential market.

 “The NAEA will be closely monitoring its impact on the market in England and Wales

 “The current housing climate remains unsettled at this moment in time.  House owners and hunters are already feeling the pressure due to continuing interest rate rises which is placing increasing strains on their wallets. Also, reactions to the instability being experienced in the world's stock markets cannot but continue the current uncertainties. We do not believe that today’s announcement will assist in bringing about stability; to the contrary, it will hinder it."

 

- Ends -

 

Sunday Telegraph
5th August 2007

Home pack errors cannot be corrected
By Miles Goslett, Sunday Telegraph

Homeowners who dispute key details entered by officials in their Home Information Pack (Hips) face a near-impossible task to set the record straight, it can be revealed.

The Department for Communities and Local Government, which is in charge of Hips, has been forced to admit that the national database responsible for Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), as part of the scheme, cannot be altered once a property's information - no matter how accurate - has been entered.

Critics have hit out at this as evidence of bad planning and symptomatic of the problem-hit nature of the introduction of Hips. It is feared that wrong information could force down the value of a property, endangering its potential sale - and even lead to the vendor being forced to take legal action.

Nick Salmon, the head of the anti-Hips group, Splinta (Sellers' Pack Law Is Not The Answer), said: "There is a gaping hole in the redress system which the Government has given no thought to in its headlong rush to implement Hips. This is another layer of complication on what is already a complicated system."

Meanwhile, legal experts say that the policy will lead to people commissioning a second or even a third EPC to save time and prevent prospective purchasers forcing down a property's price, based on a very low energy rating.

"In the short term, faced with a buyer trying to reduce the price owing to an inaccurate EPC, a seller would simply commission a second or third EPC at £100 to £150 a go," said David Briffa, a partner in the residential property department of the solicitors Child & Child.

"It's unwelcome extra expense, of course, but hopefully it would save the deal. In the long term, however, one can see homeowners who have inaccurate EPCs registered on their properties facing the prospect of having to sue the Government - yet more unwelcome expense."

Last week, The Sunday Telegraph conducted an investigaton with Jeff Howell, a chartered surveyor, which highlighted the deficiencies of EPCs. Mr Howell's 150-year-old Suffolk cottage received the lowest energy rating possible from two assessors, despite his having spent £30,000 to bring the property up to 21st-century standards.

He has since been locked in negotiation with the Communities Department and the company responsible for issuing his inaccurate EPCs with a view to challenging both reports. Mr Howell said that nobody he had spoken to could tell him adequately how he should lodge his challenge, or how long such a challenge would take. "It seems extraordinary that these dodgy energy reports should be posted on the national register without me first having a chance to agree or disagree with them," he said.

"My house has been given an energy efficiency rating of 17/100 and an environmental impact rating of 14/100, and this information is complete rubbish. But it has now been posted on a government website, and anyone who wants to buy my home will have access to it. This could cost me thousands of pounds, or even a lost sale."

To complicate matters further, no uniform appeal procedure exists for anyone challenging an EPC. Instead, the nine companies selected as assessors will act independently.

A spokesman for the Communities Department said "All accreditation schemes are required to have redress procedures in order to be approved. Schemes have a duty to ensure assessment standards are high and that any appeals are dealt with in a fair, swift and effective manner."

 

PRESS RELEASE 
8 August 2007

PRESS STATEMENT FROM   Conservatives

Watchdog slams Labour Ministers for Home Information Pack sleaze

National Audit Office criticises Government handling of financial irregularities

The Government's beleaguered Home Information Packs suffered a new blow today following a scathing investigation by the National Audit Office. The spending watchdog slammed the Government for hiring consultants to develop the Home Information Pack scheme who had financial interests in the firm they were recommending.

 The consultants had been brought in to draw up 'certification schemes' to vet and police the new army of home inspectors; yet the Department for Communities & Local Government did not engage in a proper bidding process, and the consultants hired had share options in the firms they recommended to run the lucrative scheme. 

The NAO concludes that it intends to undertake further work into the Department's handling of Home Information Packs.

Grant Shapps MP, Conservative spokesman for housing, said:

"We have long argued that Home Information Packs are fundamentally flawed, but it is even more alarming to discover that the consultants brought in by the Labour Government to advise on the scheme had their snouts in the trough.

"This is a shocking indictment of the haphazard and botched manner in which Home Information Packs have been handled by Labour Ministers. There now urgently needs to be a full National Audit Office inquiry into the Government's continued bungling."

ENDS  

 

Trevor Kent 
Monday, 30th July 2007

PRESS STATEMENT FROM TREVOR KENT " WILL HIPS WORK?" 

 
Trevor Kent is former president of the National Association of Estate Agents and a regular commentator on the housing market.
 
So, August 1st it is then. Housing Minister Yvette Cooper gets her dastardly way and the path towards 3 million people a year getting inflamed over HIPs begins.
 
And what a crazy path it is. Watered down and ineffectual as HIPs may be now, and of about as much use to a prospective purchaser as a surveyor without a ladder, they're still to be forced upon a largely unknowing and uncaring public from next Wednesday.
 
Sellers are to be blackmailed from that day forward by government that "if they don't allow an Energy Inspector access to measure up their home and send the report off to an anonymous Whitehall department - they'll be fined £200 a day". The escape road of asking an estate agent to take over the sale and get them out of a visit from the Energy Assessment Police has been blocked too. If the agent markets without the light-bulb report (known as the EPC, a fundamental part of the HIP) it's not only a fine for them, it could be a banning order prohibiting them from continuing to practice  as an estate agent.
 
Over the weekend national newspapers have confirmed what I have predicted for years, that the whole implementation is a shambles, that the 'qualified' Energy Inspectors put to the test last week produced incompetent reports, and that the EPCs are  to be used by government to assist in revaluation for Council Tax. It was I who initially revealed too, that the HIP reports will remain on the government's computer even if the sale doesn't go ahead. 
 
"On Wednesday the chaos will begin" says Trevor Kent, "some agents know nothing of the legislation and will market without HIPs, some will find every legitimate loophole to protect their clients such as ' 3 beds and a study',   and some will be in a quandry when they try to comply but their clients refuse to allow Energy Inspectors into their homes". Trevor  Kent also predicts a shortage of Energy Assessors  available to conduct the EPCs. " I believe up to 30% of the Assessors the government believe to be ready willing and able to accept inspection appointments are, in fact, anything but available having gone back into employment after the government's last delay over introduction".   
 
HIPs will cost around £500 for a Freehold registered title from Wednesday, but if your home is Leasehold and un-registerd title, then it will be nearer £1000. "For that sellers will get a HIP that is of little use to man nor beast " concludes property pundit Trevor Kent, "prospective purchasers won't bother to look at the report, lenders will laugh at it and still do their own survey, and lawyers will put it straight in the bin whilst they commission up-to-date searches. The only happy party wiill be Big Brother who will now know exactly what the inside of your house is like! ".
 
Trevor Kent PPNAEA
01753 885522
ISDN radio quality available

 

Press Release 
Monday, 30th July 2007

CONSERVATIVES

 

Pay the State to inspect your home - to help taxman hike your council tax

Home Information Pack database laying ground for ‘backdoor’ council tax revaluation  

Ahead of the imposition of Home Information Packs on 1 August, an investigation by Conservatives today warns that the information collected by the new army of home inspectors is likely to be used to hike up council tax bills in a ‘backdoor’ council tax revaluation. In effect, home owners will be forced to pay for the privilege of the State inspectors entering their home – to help the taxman record, log and tax it.  

This latest development follows a series of secret deals being struck by the council tax inspectors to grab information about people's homes. The Valuation Office Agency has already gained access to Britain 's largest estate agent database, Rightmove, as well as the Land Registry, Britain 's property deeds database, to gather information on homes ahead of the council tax revaluation in England .  

·                      Unnecessary Home Information Pack database: The small print of Government documents has revealed that Ministers are now moving ahead with a database of Home Information Packs; this will hold every detail of (currently voluntary) Home Condition Reports and the new (compulsory) Energy Performance Certificates. The latter are required by an EU directive, but the EU rules in no way require this. The Government has said the unnecessary database will “facilitate analysis of data”.  

·                      State-sponsored snoopers gathering details of every home: The information collected via the Energy Performance Certificates includes the year of construction, the type of dwelling, total floor area, number of stories, central heating, window glazing and building materials. These are precisely the same property attributes which the council tax inspectors, are currently collecting for their own new ‘Big Brother’ council tax database. These property attributes were revealed in March when Conservatives forced the publication of the council tax inspectors’ revaluation handbook.  

·                      10 million homes in two years: Energy Performance Certificates next year will be introduced for all rented properties, widening the information net. The HIPs database will hold the information on every Pack for 15 to 20 years. This suggests that 10 million homes will be on the database by 2009 and 20 million by 2014. The Valuation Office Agency has made an explicit bid to have access to the new HIPs database; Ministers this week refused outright to publish this bid on ground it was “provided in confidence”. The Housing Act 2004 allows Ministers to use the database “for any public purpose”, meaning granting access to the Agency in due course will be a mere formality.  

·                      You pay for the inspections: The cost of the HIPs database will be funded from home owners, via a levy on Home Information Packs. This is estimated to raise £16 million in fees between now and 2010. In effect, home owners and tenants will be paying for state-sponsored inspectors to enter their home, and in turn, have the information be used to hike their council tax bills. It also raises the prospect that home owners without double glazing or solar panels could be explicitly penalised with higher council tax bills.  

Eric Pickles, Conservative Shadow Secretary of State for Local Government & Communities, said:

“Labour’s plans for Home Information Packs are nothing less than a home information tax. This isn’t about making it easier to get onto the housing ladder; it’s just a stealthy way of conducting Labour’s controversial council tax revaluation by the backdoor. You’ll have to pay the State to inspect your home - and help taxman hike your council tax bill.  

“It is increasingly clear that a council tax revaluation is already underway by stealth, with Big Brother databases starting to log the precise details of every home – including the number of bedrooms, conservatories, floor area and central heating. In turn, this will allow Gordon Brown to hike council taxes on hard-working families and pensioners who have invested and improved their homes.  

“Labour Ministers keep changing their tune on why Home Information Packs are supposedly needed – first to tackle gazumping, now to enforce EU directives. Yet the real driving force is their desire to create a massive property database of every home. Given Gordon Brown’s track record, there is no doubt he’ll use it to fill his coffers and hike up property taxes even more.”

 ENDS

 

NAEA Press Release 
Wednesday, 18th July 2007

House of Lords again calls on government to revoke HIPs
NAEA expresses concern over energy assessors

 

After a further debate this afternoon, the House of Lords voted by 186 to 160 to call on the government to revoke the Home Information Pack (Number 2) Regulations 2007 and the Housing Act 2004 (Commencement Number 8) order 2007.

Peter Bolton King, Chief Executive at the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), comments: “Yet again the House of Lords has expressed considerable concern over a number of aspects relating to home information packs (HIPs), demonstrating just how flawed this piece of legislation is.

“While the government can of course ignore this motion, as it was not a fatal bill, this nevertheless sends another clear message.

The NAEA has consistently expressed the view – supported by their Lordships – that HIPs on their own are not the way to improve the home buying and selling process. 

“Even at this late stage, with the phased introduction of HIPs due to start on the 1st of August, we yet again call on the government to proceed with the energy performance certificate – which we are in full support of – and to scrap the remainder of this ill-thought out Pack.

“Meanwhile, we remain genuinely concerned about whether there will be sufficient domestic energy assessors in the correct geographical locations by the 1st August. We are also alarmed by reports that some of the accredited assessors may not in fact want to take up this new job, and no research appears to have been done to check whether this is correct.” 

 

Press Release 
Tuesday, 22nd May 2007

Law Society news: Government in disarray over HIPs

 

Government in disarray over HIPs says Law Society

"A complete shambles" said the Law Society today as it commented on the Government announcement that HIPs will be delayed to August 1 and initially only affect 4 bedroom houses and larger.

“The Government has turned the whole process of HIPs into a farce.  Its consultation with stakeholders has fallen seriously short of what we would expect in a genuine consultation exercise for something as important as this for consumers” said Paul Marsh, Law Society Deputy Vice President.

The Law Society's concerns about HIPs have been well documented and the Society has continued to question whether HIPs will bring the consumer benefits intended.  In a letter to Housing Minster Yvette Cooper* just a fortnight ago Paul Marsh, demanded a delay and asked the Minister to re-engage with stakeholders.

Paul Marsh, says: “This is a complete turnaround at the 11th hour for the Government.  Why did they not listen to our concerns and meet with us months ago instead of waiting until 8 days before implementation? We have constantly told the Government that HIPs are fundamentally flawed.  It was quite wrong for them to consider imposing this scheme on the public without listening to the repeated demand by stakeholders to delay HIPs until they have a process that will work in the consumer interest."

Ends

For more information journalists should contact the Law Society press office on 020 7320 5811.  Members of the public should call 020 7242 1222

Notes to Editors:

The letter to Yvette Cooper can be read at

http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/documents/downloads/dynamic/hipslettertoycooper100507.pdf

 

 

Press Release 
Tuesday, 22nd May 2007

CML Press Release


RELEASE TIME - IMMEDIATE - 22 MAY 2007

The Council of Mortgage Lenders welcomes today's eleventh-hour announcement by the government that the implementation of home information packs will be delayed. But it continues to urge the Government to consider the best way of moving forward.

The CML - along with other industry organisations - has repeatedly warned the government that there were too many uncertainties to be able to introduce HIPs with any confidence on 1 June.

The government has conceded in dribs and drabs, initially by announcing a U-turn last summer on compulsory home condition reports, and followed earlier this year by concessions relating to the compulsory inclusion of search information at the outset of marketing.

The CML's data suggests that 17% of owner-occupied homes have four or more bedrooms, and will therefore require a HIP under the government's revised proposals.

Commenting on the announcement, CML Director General Michael Coogan said:

"Today's hasty announcement marks the latest in a series of climbdowns and opportunistic amendments. This cannot be an appropriate way to make policy.

"We support energy improvement measures. But, in our view, HIPs are not a prerequisite for delivering the green agenda. With the fundamental lack of confidence that now exists in them, we urge the government to ditch the gold-plating and concentrate on better ways of delivering its objectives."

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The Council of Mortgage Lenders' members are banks, building societies and other lenders who together undertake around 98% of all residential mortgage lending in the UK. There are 11.7 million mortgages in the UK, with loans worth over £1.1 trillion.

 

Press Release 
Tuesday, 22nd May 2007

CONSERVATIVES

 Gove: Government’s 11th hour climbdown over HIPs

Speaking in the House of Commons today, in response to the Government’s oral statement on HIPs, Shadow Housing Minister Michael Gove said:  

Can I thank the minister for sight of her announcement which I received just 25 minutes before hand?  

Clearly this has been a day for doing everything at the last minute.  

Can I ask why, after being warned over a year ago that they were comprehensively mishandling this issue Ministers have seen fit to retreat only now – with eight days to go before Home Information Packs were due to be implemented?  

Why didn’t ministers take the opportunity we offered last week to think again?  

Was it stubborn vanity, or sheer incompetence?  

The Secretary of State may argue that this humiliating climbdown was precipitated by the Judgement issued in the High Court Today. But that begs the question which goes to the heart of this matter  

Why did ministers press ahead with a scheme which everyone who knows anything about the housing market was telling them was flawed at the heart?  

And those warnings, unlike this climbdown, did not come at the eleventh hour.  

In this house, at this despatch box, a year ago we told the Government their scheme was flawed. The Government told us we were scaremongering  

Eventually the Government were compelled to execute the first in what has been a truly embarrassing series of U-turns…dropping the mandatory home condition report which was the keystone of the original home information pack – just hours after they’d been defending it in this House – but still ministers were determined to press ahead. Why?  

Why didn’t they take the opportunity then to work with us and others to put the stability of the housing market first?  

Why did ministers decide instead to ignore the growing chorus of concern, shut out expert advice and carry on regardless?  

On Fe br uary 21st all the key stakeholders originally invited to help the Government set up this scheme issued a warning letter to the Minister for Housing and Planning asking for an emergency meeting to address fundamental concerns with the operation of this scheme. They were not granted the meeting they asked for. Why?  

In desperation the same group wrote to the Secretary of State on March 2 asking for an emergency meeting. Again they were snubbed. No meeting was granted. Why?  

What explains this refusal to listen to the experts who had once been charged with helping set up this policy and whose involvement would be key to implementing it?  

Was it because the Government couldn’t bear to be told they were in the wrong, or didn’t they realise what a mess they were presiding over? Was it deadly arrogance, or fatal ignorance?  

And even after today’s announcement key questions remain unanswered.  

The Government were warned there weren’t enough qualified, accredited and certified home inspectors in place. Over a year ago I warned that getting these people in place was crucial. Only last week in this place I told the minister of State we didn’t have enough people in place to ensure the smooth operation of the scheme.  

But the minister told us everything would be alright on the night. Why did she offer that cavalier assurance when the Secretary of State now tells us there won’t be enough people in place after all?  

We know relations between the ministers are bad – but did the Secretary of State only find out in the last few days how few qualified people there are in place?  

When did she know the real numbers? And why didn’t she inform the House last week?  

How can ministers ever again ask to be taken seriously on the environment when they have comprehensively mismanaged a measure they argued throughout was vital to fighting climate change?  

How can we believe their green credentials are worth anything when they rejected cross-party working to get the environmental part of this package right last week and instead indulged in partisan posturing?  

Can the Secretary of State also confirm that today’s judgement in the High Court confirms what we have argued all along, and what best practice in the EU shows, that you don’t need HIPs for Energy performance Certificates? Will she now agree to meet with me and my colleagues to ensure there’s actually some expertise in this process to get it right?  

MR SPEAKER –  

Isn’t it the case that this is a desperate last minute retreat designed to ensure that the Minister of Housing and Planning is airlifted out of the department by her friends in the Treasury in a future reshuffle so she doesn’t have to cope with the chaos she’s created.  

And isn’t it tragic that confidence in the industry, the stability of the housing market and the battle against climate change have all been damaged by this Government’s arrogance and incompetence?  

ENDS  

 

Trevor Kent 
Monday, 14th May 2007

HOME INFORMATION PACKS AND WHAT THEY WILL MEAN TO YOUR CONSTITUENTS

 

Trevor Kent,  former president of The National Association of Estate Agents and a long-term campaigner against the introduction of Home Information 
Packs has written to every MP prior to a possible debate on Wednesday 16th May spelling out what HIPs will mean to their constituents. He doubts 
that MPs will be ready for the backlash from their supporters, come the next election, when the full cost and restrictive nature of HIPs becomes apparant.

"One thing you do not play fast and loose with is the publics' right to sell their homes when they want to," says Trevor Kent. "It's bad enough that Labour 
are  to force sellers to show  a snooper round their homes first, but then to say 'you'll be breaking the law if you put a for sale sign up without a HIP', 
might just be the straw that turns the camel in the Conservatives direction".  The sooner Labour MPs realise this inept legislation could lose them their 
jobs the better, Trevor Kent believes, and he is hopeful that Gordon Brown (known to be against HIPs) will engineer Labour a free vote on the matter to 
settle the problem once and for all.

 

Dear Member of Parliament,

 

HOME INFORMATION PACKS AND WHAT THEY WILL MEAN TO YOUR CONSTITUENTS  

Unless the HIP Regulations laid on 29th March are voted down next Monday 16th May the following is a scenario for which your Constituents may well blame you come the next election.

(1) In time honoured fashion a family makes the decision to put their home on the market and 'phones the local estate agent (or indeed tries to 'go it alone' and sticks their own advert in the local paper).


(2) The estate agent (or the newspaper) tells them the same day "sorry, we can't put your home on the market until you've bought one of thegovernment's new 'Home Information Pack' thingies. It will cost you between £500 and £1000 depending whether your home is Freehold or Leasehold,
registered or unregistered title."


(3) If the home seller, reluctantly , agrees to go ahead and pays the money ( or enters a finance agreement for it) they then learn that a newly
'qualified' Domestic Energy Assessor (perhaps their window cleaner the week before) will by law have to walk round the inside of their home for an hour or more calculating its carbon efficiency (as government think its buyer will be interested to know its rating before making an offer).

(4) If there are insufficient Domestic Energy Assessors delaying inspections, as professionals believe to be the case, any attempt to marketthe home before the Home Information Pack arrives will be a civil offence punished by a fine of £200 per day. Only after the HIP has not arrived for14 days will it be lawful to advertise the home. 

(5) Your constituents will discover that the HIP will be at least 150 pages long, and will include 'Personal Searches' not 'Authorised Searches', the latter are usually regarded as unsatisfactory for use by purchasers' lenders and solicitors. Prospective buyers will also have to pay 'a reasonable charge' for a copy of the HIP despite the seller having already paid for it. Prospective buyers and others will also learn personal information about the seller such as whether they have a mortgage.


(6) Possibly the coup de grass will come when your constituent loses the house they were after due to the delay in marketing their own caused by the
HIP, and they discover (a) they don't get the cost of the HIP back despite not moving (not part of the EU regulations), and (b) the reports on their house will still be kept by the government on computer for goodness know what tax raising purpose and the owner paid!
 

For further information on Home Information Packs speak to The Law Society, The CML, The RICS, The NEAE, WHICH? who all believe introduction should at least be delayed, and in some cases abandoned. They agree on one thing - the requirement for an Energy Performance Certificate to satisfy the EU can be accomplished by the industry without HIPs. 

The only voice supporting HIPs is AHIPP (Association of Home Information Pack Providers) set up at the government's behest with ex CLG staff to promote Packs for the government.

Trevor Kent
Former President NAEA
01753 885522
www.homeinformationpacks.com

LAWSOCIETY
Tuesday 1 May 2007

Wake up call for Government on HIPs

Commenting on today's report on HIPs by the Lords Committee on the Merits of Statutory Instruments, Paul Marsh, Law Society Deputy Vice President, says:

"This damning report from such a highly respected group of Peers should be a wake up call for the Government. They have so far refused to listen to stakeholder concerns - but they cannot ignore this report.  They need to find a scheme and a timetable that will work in the interests of the public.  Implementation should be delayed until a proper consultation process has taken place."

For more information call Melissa Davis in the Law Society press office on 020 7320 5811

Melissa Davis
Interim Head of Press

 

CONSERVATIVES
Tuesday 1 May 2007

Gove:  Home Information Packs - The Government have got this wrong

Commenting on the publication of a heavily critical report by a House of Lords Committee into HIPs Michael Gove, Conservative Housing spokesman, said:

 “The House of Lords investigation has confirmed what we, and everyone else committed to the housing market, have said all along: The Government have got this wrong.  

“From the Consumers Association to the Better Regulation Commission, from mortgage lenders to family solicitors, the chorus of opposition to HIPs is unanimous.  

“Extra bureaucracy won’t help a single person struggling to get on to get on the housing ladder nor will it make the process of buying a home any less stressful. Charging people more to sell their own property is the last thing the housing market needs.  

“Getting the housing market and the fight against climate change right is too important to allow the Government to press ahead with proposals that everyone knows are flawed. This is why we are asking ministers to urgently rethink their plans and get this right.”  

ENDS

Trevor Kent
25th April 2007

ALL IS NOT LOST! LAST DITCH ATTEMPT IS MADE TO HALT HIPS IN PARLIAMENT


ALL IS NOT LOST! LAST DITCH ATTEMPT IS MADE TO HALT HIPS IN PARLIAMENT

On Tuesday 24 April a Committee of the House of Lords sat to scrutinise the HIP Regulations which had been tabled in The House of Commons on 29 March.

The Lords' Merits of Statutory Instruments Commitee questioned the government's department responsible for giving us HIPs - Communities and Local

Government.  According to the Daily Mail, committee chairman Lord Filkin said of HIPs "We have previously scrutinised hundreds of statutory instruments. 

I can't think of one when I have seen so many stakeholders so passionately disgruntled and critical." 

The transcript of the Committee's questioning of officials will be published on May 1, and the Report a week later. If the Report is sufficiently critical of HIPs,

it will open the way for the Conservatives, possibly in concert with the Liberal Democrats to submit a motion that would kill the Regulations - and if it were 

to succeed, the Regulations would have to be redrawn heralding a timely end to June 1 introduction.

Please read

DAILY TELEGRAPH 25/4/07

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/04/25/nhip25.xml

DAILY MAIL 25/4/07

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=450498&in_page_id=1770


CML - News & Views - Number 5

"Plans to introduce home information packs in June should be postponed to avoid potential disruption of the market and burdening sellers with unnecessary regulation and costs."   

link to News & Views - Number 5

 

Press Release
29th March 2007

Conservatives


Gove: HIPs – Extra red tape won’t make buying a home less stressful

 Commenting today on the Government’s publication of the Home Information Pack Regulations, Shadow Housing Minister Michael Gove said:  

“The Government’s handling of Home Information Packs has been attacked by everyone who knows anything about the housing market in Britain . Estate Agents, Mortgage Lenders, Surveyors, House Builders, Solicitors and Conveyancers have all told ministers they’re on the wrong track. Even the Government’s own Better Regulation Commission has slammed Yvette Cooper’s department for gold-plating EU regulations.

“This extra bureaucracy won’t help a single person struggling to get on to get on the housing ladder nor will they make the process of buying a home any less stressful. Charging people more to sell their own property is the last thing the housing market needs.”

ENDS

 


Press Release
22nd March 2007

Conservatives

 

Gove:   Brown’s Budget leaves Home Information Packs in disarray

Commenting on yesterday’s Budget and its impact on the future of Labour’s planned Home Information Packs, Shadow Housing Minister Michael Gove said:

“Yesterday's Budget threw the future of Home Information Packs into even greater confusion.  Buried in the Budget's detail the Chancellor has declared that the Energy Performance Certificates - the remaining keystone of HIPs - no longer need to be provided when properties are marketed.  This announcement undermines the approach Ruth Kelly's Department has been taking for the last twelve months.  The Chancellor also indicated that while HIPs could be introduced 'later this year' he gave no undertaking to stick to the June 1st launch date. 

“Conservatives have been pressing for a complete overhaul of the system, and following the Chancellor's statement the Government's plans are in disarray.  Thanks to Gordon Brown's record of high-handed interventions over the heads of cabinet ministers we are now left with a confused situation which is the last thing the housing market needs.

“The truth is that HIPs won't help people struggling to get on the housing ladder or make the process of buying a home any less stressful. “  

ENDS


BBC News Website 
Thursday 
March 8th  2007

The difficult birth of home sales packs
Analysis
By Julian Knight - Personal finance reporter, BBC News

click this link for the article


Trevor Kent 
Thursday March 8th  2007
TEN THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT HOME INFORMATION PACKS
 

 

AS A SELLER :

  1. You will have to pay for a Pack (average cost £500) before you can put your home on the market from June 1st this year.
  2. You, or your agent, will be a law-breaker liable to a daily fine of £200/500 if caught trying to sell your home without a Pack, or for the first 14 days if your Pack is ordered but hasn't arrived (this means no advert, no board, no flyers not even a chat in the pub).
  3. A new Jobsworth has been created by Labour, called an "Energy Inspector" who will visit your home at your cost, but before you are allowed to market it. The Inspector will prepare an Energy Performance Certificate by poking around your home from basement to loft, ostensibly assessing your home's 'green credentials' .  This EPC report will be put in to your Home Information Pack.  Remember - no Pack, no marketing.
  4. The 8 page EPC report on your home (that you've paid for) along with legal information about you and your home, will be centrally recorded by government and will be available for inspection electronically by goodness knows who, for goodness knows what purposes.
  5. If your Home Information Pack (HIP) doesn't arrive for 14 days (perhaps because of lack of Energy Inspectors countrywide) and you have therefore been unable to market your home, you may lose the next property you wished to buy.  If you lose it, there will be  no refund of your HIP costs AND the government will keep all the details on you and your home that you have paid for, on their database.

 

AS A BUYER:

 

1.      The arrival of Home Information Packs is likely to reduce the choice of properties on the market by 30% as sellers won't risk the loss of the cost of a HIP just to 'dip their toe in the water'.  Reduced stock could mean increased prices.

2.      When you look at the HIP on the house you're interested in making an offer on (if you can be bothered) it may not have legal searches in, or even details of leaseholds as these can take weeks to arrive, so what help will it be?

3.      The government think the Energy Performance Certificate within the HIP, which will tell you things like "if you buy a new boiler for £3000, it'll save you £42 a year in running costs" is important to your decision-making, and that you are at a disadvantage without the report. Will you agree when you wade through 100 pages of a full HIP, when all you want to do it secure your purchase? 

4.      Your solicitors and your mortgage lender will tell you they still want you to pay for a mortgage valuation survey and up-to-date searches because the vendor's HIP is no use to them as the contents cannot be relied upon. Thus it has saved you 'not one penny'.

5.      Of course, you may not even have your offer accepted on your proposed purchase anyway, because you haven't got a HIP on your own house yet.  Remember, you can't start marketing yours for 14 days without your own HIP unless you break the law. Chains will become even more of a problem with the advent of HIPs, and sellers may prefer buyers with 'nothing to sell'.

 

 

There are plenty more problems with HIPs, all of which have been spelt out in words of one syllable to government over the last few years by professionals, but they won't listen.  Maybe it's because the prospect of a stealth database of the inside details of two million homes a year is just too appealing.

 

 

End

 

 

Trevor Kent is former president of the National Association of Estate Agents, and has been a constant critic of Home Information Pack legislation.

 

(o) 01753 885522

www.homeinformationpacks.com

ISDN Radio available by appointment

 


Trevor Kent 
Monday February  26  2007
WILL NON-HIP GOVERNMENT TURN DEAF EAR TO PROFESSIONALS' PACK PROTESTATIONS? ASKS TREVOR KENT
 
WILL NON-HIP GOVERNMENT TURN DEAF EAR TO PROFESSIONALS' PACK PROTESTATIONSASKS TREVOR KENT
 

 "Just what does it take for  government  to be persuaded their HIP operation won't stand up?", asks Trevor Kent former president of The National Association of Estate Agents and a long-term critic of Home Information Pack legislation. "The CML and the RICS can hardly be described as opportunist or radical as I have been,  yet they are pleading for implementation to be halted, and now  even the government's own Better Regulation Committee have stepped in to agree (report below) that HIPs must be stopped".

"Some years ago" continues Kent " I could perhaps have been accused of having a protectionist  head-in-the-sand attitude to changes that were sold to us by government as 'long over-due improvements in the home-selling process', but the way this half-baked inept implementation is turning out, I was right to take refuge in the sand given the flack I knew would fly given time."   
 
"If families only realised that, hiding under the pinafore of environmental benefit, Yvette Cooper as Housing Minister together with Brown and Blair will, this summer,
deny all homeowners in England and Wales the right to market their houses when they want to - they would, I believe, be  very distressed" .
 
The arrival of Home Information Packs on June 1 will make it offence to mention  a house or flat is for sale for the first 14 days after the decision  has been made by the owner to sell it, whilst their HIP is prepared. A private seller could be fined £200 a day if Trading Standards Officers discover a card in a newsagent's window, a rapidly scrawled cardboard 'For Sale by Owner' sign hung on the gate or a careless word whist not having a cigarette in the local, should the owner have not first bought a Home Information Pack for hundreds of pounds. An estate agent, as a professional, could be fined £500 a day for jumping the gun on behalf of their clients.
 
"The public  has no idea that the government has made it law that every owner will have to pay for a  newly qualified 'Energy Assessor' to  have free rein of their home for an hour-long internal inspection from basement to loft, if they did they would be devastated", Trevor Kent believes, " and if they then realised  that the report would be available for strangers to read and Council Tax Officers to consider, I think they would go ballistic".  
 
Despite the government's commitment to a wide-ranging public information campaign to prepare sellers and buyers for the changes to come,  no such activity has been initiated by Communities and Local Government to date,  yet there are only 94 days to go. " 0ver a million families will be putting their home on the market before the end of the year, what a nasty shock they've got coming when they each have to write a cheque for £500 for the latest house sale stealth tax from Big Brother Brown, and then are  told they still can't go on the market for a fortnight," Trevor Kent concludes.  
 
End
 
Trevor Kent
Former President of The National Association of Estate Agents 
and a frequent property market commentator
(o) 01753 885522
ISDN Quality Radio by Arrangement
 
 

Better Regulation Commission

Logo of the Better Regulation Commission

Better Regulation Commission calls for further departmental consideration of Energy Performance Certificates

26 February 2007

The Better Regulation Commission today issues its views on the Government's proposals for introducing Energy Performance Certificates. The Commission calls on the Government to delay the introduction of Energy Performance Certificates until it has had the opportunity to reconsider its proposals in the light of the issues the Commission has raised.

The Commission accepts that Energy Performance Certificates need to be introduced to meet the requirements of a European Directive, and that their introduction may make some contribution towards reducing the energy consumption in buildings. However, it has concerns about the way the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) is proposing to introduce them.

CLG's proposals for residential properties go beyond the requirements of the Directive in requiring a new EPC to be produced every time a property is put on the market for sale, and by requiring its production before the property can go on the market. Yet it has provided no supporting evidence to justify this “gold–plating”.

BRC Chair Rick Haythornthwaite commented:

“In our recent review of the regulatory aspects of the Stern report, we explicitly cautioned against ill considered regulatory responses to the climate change challenge, and using climate change as a justification for measures which have other motivations. Here we have an example of proposals that are not part of a clear strategic framework and impose additional admin burdens with inadequate justification.

We would like to see evidence that all options to minimise costs have been considered. These regulatory proposals, though aimed at reducing carbon emissions, fall short of our expectations for good regulation and, in particular, fail our recently recommended tests for better climate change policy.”

Notes to editors

For further information please contact Compass Rose & Co Sue Youngman 07768 283 162 or Caroline Corfield 07979 706 553

  1. The Better Regulation Commission's paper, ‘Energy Performance Certificates and Residential Property’, in the Spotlight on Better Regulation series, will be available on the BRC's website: www.brc.gov.uk. A copy is being sent to Ministers. It recommends that the Government should delay the introduction of EPCs until it has had the opportunity to reconsider its proposals and, in particular, to:
    • identify and evaluate a number of alternative options for meeting the Directive's requirements
    • provide clear evidence in support of the preferred option
    • fully assess the potential risks to the housing market and how they could be mitigated
    • develop a clear evidence base through trials of the costs and benefits of EPCs
    • Energy Performance Certificates will need to be provided for all residential and commercial property under a European Directive (2002/91/EC)

CLG's proposes to go beyond what is required in the Directive by:

  • requiring a new EPC every time a residential property is placed on the market for sale (the Directive allows them to last up to 10 years)
  • requiring the EPC to be produced before the property can be marketed (the Directive allows it to be produced anytime before the transaction is complete)
  • introducing EPCs with the Home Information Packs on 1 June this year (the Directive allows a delay until 4 January 2009, subject to justification)

The proposal to require EPCs for every house sale rather than allowing them to last for 10 years will clearly increase costs substantially.
CLG issued its consultation without any evidence that its “gold–plating” of the Directive requirements will lead to improved outcomes, in terms of either of the stated objectives for its proposals, namely, to cut carbon emissions from homes and to improve home buying and selling.
There is a risk that there will not be enough certificated energy assessors available by 1 June to deal with the demand for EPCs. This could have a significant impact on the housing market.

  1. The Better Regulation Commission's seven tests for better climate change regulation are:
    1. Ensure climate policy is consistent with a healthy UK economy.
    2. Government must develop, and act consistently with, a climate change strategy, avoiding piecemeal announcements..
    3. Test policy against a carbon price benchmark
    4. Carbon policy choices must be efficient; don't do things twice
    5. Keep administrative costs to a minimum
    6. Do not use climate change as a justification for other policy goals
    7. If it isn't working, change it
  2. About The Better Regulation Commission (http://www.brc.gov.uk)
    1. The Better Regulation Commission is an independent body that advises the Government on action to reduce unnecessary regulatory and administrative burdens and to ensure that regulation and its enforcement are proportionate, accountable, consistent, transparent and targeted.
    2. The work of the Better Regulation Commission includes:
      • Challenging departments and regulators to ensure that regulation and its enforcement accord with the five Principles of Good Regulation. These are proportionality, accountability, consistency, transparency and targeting.
      • Vetting plans from departments and regulators to reduce administrative burdens.
      • Scrutinising progress by Departments and regulators to reduce wider regulatory burdens, including use of alternatives and deregulation.
      • Investigating specific regulatory and policy issues and making recommendations to Government through published independent reports. The Prime Minister has asked Ministers to respond to Commission reports within 60 days of publication
      • Working with business and other external stakeholders in EU Member States, and the EU institutions, to support the ‘Six Presidency’ initiative on better regulation in Europe.
  3. The scope of the work carried out by the Commission covers the private, public and voluntary sectors and EU regulatory issues.
  4. The Better Regulation Commission decides for itself its ways of working and its work programme, although it is expected to produce an annual report on its work.

Full Commission membership as of 1 April 2006:

  • Rick Haythornthwaite, Chairman – Star Capital Partners
  • Teresa Graham, Deputy Chair – independent advisor to SMEs
  • Adrian Askew – Connect
  • Lynne Berry – General Social Care Council
  • Jean Coussins – Former CEO of The Portman Group, consultant: corporate responsibilities
  • Michael Gibbons – Consultant: utility sector
  • Steven Gould – RICS
  • Philip Jansen – Sodexho
  • Lord Jamie Lindsay – UKAS
  • Ian Peters – EEF
  • Penelope Rowlatt – Independent economist
  • Janet Russell – Kirklees Metropolitan Council
  • Professor Shamit Saggar – University of Sussex
  • Eve Salomon – Consultant: communications
  • Sarah Veale – Trades Union Congress
  • Simon Walker – The Reuters Group
  • Professor Helen Wallace – Consultant: EU affairs
  • Victoria Younghusband – Lawrence Graham LLP

NAEA 
Thursday 22 February   2007

NAEA - warning over HIPs

Commenting on the National Association of Estate Agents’ submission to the latest CLG Consultation on HIPs, 
Chief Executive
Peter Bolton King stated:

 "We welcome the fact that the Government has recognised a number of the problems we have previously expressed concern about. However, we remain convinced that the current proposals are not the way to improve the buying and selling process.

 

“If HIPs are implemented as proposed we remain very concerned. The effect of the area trials and impact assessment are not known and will not be known prior to 1st June. In addition we believe that the proposed changes are so important that they should not be introduced until much larger fully independent trials are commissioned.

 

“We must therefore again warn of the unacceptable strategic risk the Government is taking. The housing market and thereby the UK economy is in grave danger of being adversely affected with a market impact resulting in serious consumer detriment."

-Ends-


CML
Wednesday  February  21  2007
CML responds to HIPs consultation
 

CML responds to HIPs consultation

In its response today to the government's latest consultation on home information packs (HIPs), the Council of Mortgage Lenders calls for the implementation of HIPs to be postponed until full evidence from research and area trials is available, on which an informed decision about the likely effectiveness of HIPs can be based.

This latest consultation, launched on 25 January, set out proposals to:

- issue government guidance to local authorities to speed up the provision of searches;

- provide a six-month transitional period after HIPs are introduced during which properties can be marketed without searches as long as these have been commissioned; and

- explore measures to link energy performance certificates with incentives to encourage energy efficiency in the housing market.

Overall, the CML believes the government has been slow to recognise the problems with local authority searches (despite repeated representations on this issue over a period of some years). These problems are not new and should have been resolved well before HIPs were introduced.  The CML also believes that the HIPs timetable increasingly lacks credibility, with proposals for change still being made less than four months before full implementation, and without proper testing. In particular, the CML is concerned that:

- the baseline research published in January does not provide sufficient evidence to justify the current proposals for HIPs, and regulatory impact assessments will not be published until late March, far too late for proper scrutiny before implementation on 1 June;

- the HIP approach "gold-plates" the requirements of the European Directive for the delivery of energy performance certificates (EPCs);

- there may not be enough energy assessors on 1 June, which will cause market disruption if people cannot market their properties without an EPC; and

- take-up of the home condition report in the area trials has been only 60% so far, even with the government funding the cost, leaving serious questions about their likely level of take-up when consumers have to foot the bill for them.

The CML remains interested in exploring the possibilities for "green" mortgages. However, at present there is no standard definition of a green mortgage. Other incentives for people to make energy efficiency improvements - such as council tax rebates for energy-saving measures, and readily available EPCs at all points during home-ownership - are much more likely to encourage consumers to take positive energy-saving action.

CML head of policy Jackie Bennett commented: "No-one would dispute that the house-buying process is slow in the UK and could usefully be speeded up to benefit consumers. But there is no clear evidence that HIPs will solve the problems.  "Incentives to make homes more energy-efficient are desirable, but again it is unproven whether including energy performance certificates within the home information pack will result in consumers taking energy-saving measures.  "This close to the implementation date, there are still far too many unknowns about the potential market impacts. We call on the government to postpone the introduction of HIPs until they have been properly trialled and reviewed."

 


RICS
Wednesday  February  21  2007
RICS CALLS FOR POSTPONEMENT OF MANDATORY HIPS

  
RICS CALLS FOR POSTPONEMENT OF MANDATORY HIPS

In response to the Government's consultation on home information packs (HIPS), RICS has today called for the postponement of mandatory HIPS.

RICS spokesman Jeremy Leaf said: "Home buying reform yes! But, implementation proposals are potentially detrimental to the market and the interest of consumers and the wider economy, that we have little choice but to call for a postponement.

"This would provide the opportunity to look at home buying reform in the round, which we have been urging the Government to do for some time. We believe that it is time to sweep up all the problems with home buying and selling rather than focus on the depleted home information pack which has most of the stuffing removed."

RICS has offered a number of solutions to the Government as part of its consultation response and is working with other Government departments and colleagues in industry to deliver real benefits for consumers.

 


Press Release from Conservative Party
Thursday  January 25  2007
 

Press Release                        Conservatives

t (Press) 020 7984 8121
t
(Broadcast) 020 7984 8100
f 020 7984 8272

25th January 2007

Ref:0154/07    

Gove: Case for Home Information Packs floundering

 Commenting on the Government’s consultation on Home Information Packs published today, Shadow Housing Minister Michael Gove said:

 "The Government is looking increasingly desperate as it scrabbles about for a justification for its widely discredited Home Information Packs. 

 “They've tried to make a great deal of the Energy Performance Certificates, but the truth is that it’s a fig leaf.   It’s small, it looks green, but it can’t really cover their embarrassment.  

“As the Government - in Northern Ireland - have themselves admitted you don’t need sellers’ packs to implement energy efficiency reports.  Nor will this expensive red tape deliver the improvements the housing market needs.  And in a market where many people are already struggling to get a foot on the housing ladder, HIPs would further push up the cost of buying, as well as selling, a home. "

ENDS

Notes to Editors

In Northern Ireland , EU Directive 2002/91/EC is being implemented by the Government without the introduction of Home Information Packs.

They have stated:

"DSD [the department] does not consider a Home Information Pack necessary in Northern Ireland "

(NI Department for Social Development, Energy Performance Certificate For Residential Buildings Regulations ( Northern Ireland ) 2006: A Consultation Document).

http://www.dsdni.gov.uk/epc_final.pdf

 For further information, please contact Amy Fisher on 020 7984 8088.


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The Law Society
Friday January 26  2007
HIPs will cause chaos for housing market says Law Society

 

Yesterday’s announcement by the DCLG shows an unconvincing last-minute attempt to save HIPs, says the Law Society.

 

Paul Marsh, Law Society Deputy Vice President, says:

“The Government’s ill- thought out plans will leave the already volatile housing market in a state of chaos on June 1st. With only 80 days left for implementation they have launched a consultation aimed at sorting out key problems, such as searches and leasehold property that should have been addressed much earlier.  This all comes too late”.

   
"The problems that have come out of the dry run are issues which the Government have been persistently warned about by the Law Society, and others knowledgeable about the house buying process, over the last three and half years. What a shame they didn’t listen to us earlier. They could have saved millions of pounds worth of taxpayers money” says Paul Marsh.

“The seller will be even more confused now about the contents of their HIP and unsure of what they need to provide on the first day of marketing to avoid a fine.  It seems that the government is using the fig leaf of the EPC* to cover up the shortcomings in the HIP” says Paul Marsh

 

Ends

*Energy Performance Certificate


Trevor Kent
25th January 2007

MORE TROUBLE ON THE HOME FRONT

 

The timetable for the introduction of Home Information Packs (HIPs) took another  faltering step backwards today following the announcement of yet another 'consultation' by the DCLG after nine years of investigations, consultations and trials

 
Trevor Kent, former president of the National Association of Estate Agents an a fervent anti-HIP campaigner said today
"The government has had a shock whilst  reviewing the interim results of their 'dry-run' tests  of packs in six towns and cities, having discovered that agents' fears over implementation problems are well founded".
 
Some months ago the Home Condition Report was excluded from HIPs despite six years of claims that an 'up-front survey' was the most important service to the home-buyer that   HIPs would  provide. " Today",  says Kent, "the DCLG announced that Local Authority  Searches need not be included in packs initially  either, as they have finally discovered  that they are both expensive and can take months to obtain".
 
 The DCLG have also climbed down on the provision of information on leasehold properties  that HIPs required to be included at an early stage having discovered, belatedly,  that landlords and block managers are holding sellers to ransom by charging a fortune for management accounts and other records.
 
Concerned that estate agents will not co-operate with the new HIP rules from 1st June which will require agents to tell their clients they cannot market their homes in any way for 14 days whilst a HIP is prepared at a cost of £600, the government also announced an  increase in the estate agents' fines for marketing without a HIP to £500 a time, from the original  £200.     
 
Well aware that they have fallen seriously short of the estimated 7500 new 'Home Inspectors' required to visit every property before it can be put on the market (to assess its' energy performance) other rules are to be changed too. No longer will every home on the market before 1st June have to have a retrospective HIP prepared before 31st October - the date will  now be moved forward to 31st March 2008. Similarly, to avoid the expected  log jam of house inspections, the rule that a replacement HIP would have to be commissioned if a property were withdrawn from the market for a month before re-marketing,  has now been extended to one year.  
 
Concludes Trevor Kent,  ' rarely has there been a more inept inefficient and unprofessional legislative intervention in an open market scenario, than has been witnessed with this Home Information Pack fiasco. All that is necessary to comply with EU requirements is that every property sold or let after 2009 must  have an Energy Performance Certificate  - no HIP just an EPC. Estate agents would willingly provide these after exchange of contracts - sledgehammers and nuts come to mind'.
 
End
 

Trevor Kent PPNAEA 

Property Market Commentator & Anti-HIP Campaigner

o 01753 885522

e pressrelease@trevorkentmedia.com

ISDN by arrangement

   


 

Trevor Kent
16th January 2007

5pm  NAEA Council supports proposal 64 to NIL

   Home Information Pack Perils 
Former Agency President calls for United Industry Delegation to Government

  

Former President of The National Association of Estate Agents Trevor Kent today called upon the General Council of the NAEA, gathered in Stratford Upon Avon, to convene a high level meeting of all Associations Organisations and Bodies representative of the property sales industry to present a unified voice to government setting out the perils that threaten the housing market and the wider economy should government proceed with the introduction of Home Information Packs.

 

He said: 

 

"As of this moment there are just 94 working days before the  government is set to foist upon an unwilling industry (not to mention general public) the most ill-conceived, ill-researched and ill-tested change to property sales law and practice that England and Wales has ever experienced.

 

"We, as estate agents representing our clients, (and members of the public selling privately) will as of June 1 face fines of £200 (possibly a day) if a property is placed on the market without a totally unnecessary HOME INFORMATION PACK.  Sellers will have to pay between £400 and £1000 for these Packs, and will be immediate law-breakers if they advertise their homes without one.   The government have singularly failed to convince the industry, even those supporting Packs, that any of the milestones the government themselves set in place for satisfactory roll-out of Packs, have been reached.  To continue this folly will lead to property market melt-down of un-dreamt of proportions. 

 

"I call upon Council today (and my proposal is) to authorise the NAEA to immediately instigate and host a crisis meeting of all the Associations, Organisations, Representative Bodies and Influential Individuals in the wider property sale, conveyancing, surveying and financing industries.   And that the meeting shall, if felt appropriate, draw to the government's attention by way of delegation to No 10 Downing Street,  the disaster about to fall upon the housing market and the wider economy should HIPs be introduced as currently scheduled". 

 

End

 

Contact

Trevor Kent PPNAEA 

Property Market Commentator & Anti-HIP Campaigner

o 01753 885522

e pressrelease@trevorkentmedia.com

ISDN by arrangement

 

  

Note to Editors:     

 

The Milestones not met include

 

Sufficient newly trained 'Home Inspectors' fully covering all of England and Wales available to visit and measure up every home coming newly to the market from June 1st and every home already on the market before June 1 that remains unsold as of Nov 1.  (7500 minimum required - hundreds currently have the required qualification).

 

Final Parliamentary approval of Home Information Pack Regulations (i.e. we still don't know for sure what has to be in them yet).

 

The establishment of a  government computer  system to collate record and retain data from the physical internal inspection of every home (and just what use will that be put to, one wonders).  

 

The ability of all Local Authorities to produce Search information to be included in Packs within 3 days of demand (remember no search = no Pack = no marketing ).

 

Control over Landlords and Managing Agents to deter them from delaying and over-charging for information on leaseholds such as maintenance accounts required for HIPs (remember no info = no packs = no marketing).

 

A level playing field in enforcing the £200 fines for marketing without a Pack (Trading Standards Officers can deal with estate agents, but who will police private sellers?).

 

The promised properly conducted Trial of Home Information Packs by government replicating actual conditions that will be encountered on June 1 (Vendors actually paying for the packs, and being told they'll be breaking the law if they advertise or put up a for sale board until they've got it , current 'dry-runs' require neither).

 

Publication of the government's Baseline Study of  the sales process prior to HIPs to satisfy their commitment to be able to compare 'before and after' experiences to show that introduction of HIPS has been a benefit (Publication due last Autumn but delayed indefinitely by government).

 

An approved redress scheme for Home Information Pack activities to which the legislation requires agents belong. (The government has yet to set one up).

 

And many many more.
 

Trevor Kent  4th January 2007  

Trevor is a founder member and active campaigner with a group of 1700 solicitors, estate agents and surveyors all opposing the Packs, known as SPLINTA. His co-campaigner Nick Salmon appeared in an excellent BBC News item on Home Information Packs which entirely concurs with Trevor's opinion of this HIPs nonsense. Please watch it on THIS LINK

 

 

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