20th May 2010
ARE HISTORY: PICKLES SUSPENDS HOME INFORMATION PACKS WITH
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
“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:
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
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."
and video footage of the announcement will be available at: www.communities.gov.uk/newsroom/
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
duty was introduced in three phases, depending on the size of
the property, starting in August 2007 and ending in December
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
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.
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
- 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
- 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
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
a long time property commentator,
still a practicing estate agent in
ISDN Radio by appointment
5th May 2010
13th April 2010
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
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.
Trevor Kent is a
former President of the
National Association of Estate Agents and housing
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
on claims that HIPs aren’t detrimental to the Housing Market,
Shadow Housing Minister, Grant Shapps said:
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."
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
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
Nothing good about HIPs,
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
Interestingly, if HIPs were indeed abolished, nearly half of those
questioned reported that they would simply return to their pre-HIP
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.
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
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
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
This article first appeared
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
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
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
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.
November 7th 09
AHIPP mounts Tory Party legal
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
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
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.
HIPs will soon be
history, Shapps tells Tory conference
Wednesday 7th October 2009 Taken from www.estateagenttoday.com
housing spokesman Grant Shapps told the Tory conference
yesterday that HIPs will become history if his party wins power.
said they were symbolic of the “pointless red tape” Labour
had introduced in housing.
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.
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.
HIPS company fails to
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".
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
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
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.
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
"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."
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
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.
Former president National
Association of Estate Agents
Property market commentator and
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 Kent, and
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
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
"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
preferably scrap the whole damn lot".
Trevor Kent is
former President of the NAEA
and a property commentator for 20
years. He is based in South Bucks.
ISDN Radio quality available
Trevor Kent's original
petition to No 10 Downing Street
8th February 2009
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
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
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
"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."
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
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
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
Updated: 4:04PM GMT 14 Dec 2008
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
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.
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."
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.
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.
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
who have pledged to scrap the scheme, are calling on the Government
to reverse the policy in order to help rescue the ailing housing
*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"
*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
*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.
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
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
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 Beckett
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
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
TREVOR KENT is former
president of the National Association of Estate Agents
blow to housing market from town hall HIP fines
respond to housing slump by imposing more red tape
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.
is despite the fact that the Government's own research into Home
Information Packs found that:
is minimal public knowledge and interest in HIPs
industry think they are a waste of time
are not bothering to consult HIPs.
in a Written Ministerial Statement today, the Government has announced the
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
TREVOR KENT'S PLEA TO MARGARET BECKETT
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
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
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
AN END TO HOUSE-SELLING AS WE KNOW IT
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.
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.
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".
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".
KENT is former
president of the
Association of Estate Agents and a
broadcast property commentator based
Gerrards Cross, South Bucks.
Labour Ministers try to bury more bad news on Home Information Packs
Government research exposes consumer confusion, apathy and resentment
Government’s flagship housing policy of Home Information Packs has been
’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
make the buying and selling process more complicated and contain too much
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
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
is a "general apathy amongst sellers who struggled to see the purpose
of paying for something that received low levels of interest from
are concerned about having to pay for the HIP to be re-compiled if the
property is not sold.
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.
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.
on this new report, Shadow Minister for Housing
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
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
shows that HIPs simply aren’t needed to introduce Energy Performance
Certificates and help people go green.
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.”
BURY BAD NEWS ON HIPS
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.
Home Information Packs, Consumer Focus
Groups: Qualitative Research Summary Findings, 31 October 2008.
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).
large proportion of participants stated that the requirement of HIPs made
the buying and selling process more complicated” (p.9).
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
. Buyers also sought further information about the structure of the
property, something which a basic HIP does not include” (p.9).
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).
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
ADMITS IT’S GOING WRONG
this week, Housing Minister, Margaret Beckett when quizzed by MPs on HIPs
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.”
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.
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
Select Committee, Transcript of Oral
Evidence, HC 1089-ii, 27 October 2008).
MARKET TO SUFFER UNTIL 2010
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’
ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans
she has to review the operation and effectiveness of the home information
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:
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.”
10 September 2008, col. 1989W.
comes clean and admits HIPs have failed
call on Labour to suspend HIPs immediately
to Margaret Beckett’s admission that HIPs are not working to their
“potential” and that they have “limitations” Shadow Housing
Minister, Grant Shapps, said:
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.
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."
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
HIPs condemned as 'waste of time' by
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
KENT NEEDS YOUR HELP TO STOP A NEW PROPERTY LAW
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.
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.
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
please consider joining the Petition by linking to
President National Association of Estate Agents
Property Market Commentator
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?".
Former President National Association of
and regular property market commentator.
GOVERNMENT HIPS ADVICE CONTINUES TO
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 email@example.com
Trevor Kent, Past President NAEA
VE HAVE VAYS OF STOPPING YOU SELLING YOUR HOME - SAY LABOUR
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.
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!
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.
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.
RESPONSE TO HIP
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
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
Hips are effectively dead
on the Carsberg Review into the property market which has found that Home
Information Packs offer the ‘worst of all worlds’, Shadow Housing
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.
has let down everyone on the property ladder in
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."
Saturday June 14,2008
EVIDENCE THAT HATED HIPS HIT THE PROPERTY MARKET
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
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
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.
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
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
TREVOR KENT, former president NAEA
and prominent anti-HIPs campaigner
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
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
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!
Former President, National Association of Estate Agents
and property broadcaster.
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
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
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
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
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
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
consider what more might be needed to ensure that consumers are protected
throughout the home buying and selling process.
believe these measures will provide greater certainty and stability to
consumers and industry about the operation of HIPs.
Time for another Brown U-turn
on the news that the final stage of the roll-out of controversial Home
Information Packs is being delayed, Shadow Housing Minister,
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
31st March 2008
Tory call to scrap 'expensive and slow' home packs
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.
11th March 2008
SPINS HIPS TRIALS
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.
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.
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.”
more detailed reading of the report, itself, indicates why the
Government’s press release was so limited.
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!”
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.
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.”
President of The NAEA
ISDN Radio available.
7th March 2008
TREVOR KENT IS A FOUNDER
MEMBER OF ANTI-HIP GROUP SPLINTA WHO SAYS :
HIPS 'RESEARCH' GREETED WITH DERISION.
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.
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.
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
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."
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"
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.
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
information and comment: Nick Salmon 07831 805455
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.
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
The CLG press release is here: http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/713987
P.O. Box 398
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.
29th February 2008
my postbag !
Many thanks for your kind words concerning
my meagre efforts to bring some negative publicity to bear on this
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.
Sent: Friday, February 22, 2008 2:55 PM
For the attention of Trevor Kent Esq.
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
29th January 2008
HERE TO RETAIN FIRST DAY MARKETING
Home Information Packs 'to affect
By Harry Wallop,
Consumer Affairs Correspondent
regarding Home Information Packs could damage the fragile housing
market, estate agents have warned.
sellers can only put their house on the market if they have a HIP,
which cost between £300 and £500.
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.
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
(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.
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
contains a home's title deeds, local searches and an energy
are supposed to speed up the house buying process by shifting the
responsibility for compiling the documents from buyer to seller.
critics claim the pack does not include key documents such as a
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."
25th January 2008
HIPs, A PLEA FOR YOUR HELP - FROM TREVOR KENT
Homeowner, Homeseller or Homebuyer
you are planning to sell a home any time in the future, you'll want to
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.
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.
is what you can do about it...
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.
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.
believe they will lose votes and jeopardize their re-election, they may
think again. The
Conservatives have already pledged to repeal HIPs.
the link to the petition: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/homeselling
thanks for your support.
President of The National
of Estate Agents &
11th January 2008
Fight Goes On
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
If Lord Dixon-Smith's motion is carried, a Humble Petition
will be presented to Her Majesty The Queen calling for annulment.
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).
report slams Labour for playing politics with HIPs
to the annual Communities and Local Government Select Committee report
which concludes that the delay to introducing Home Information Packs
(HIPs) was taken
political rather than economic grounds, Shadow Housing Minister, Grant
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.
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.
should perform one of their trademark climbdowns and axe a policy which is
increasingly strangling a struggling housing market."
further information, please contact Giles Kenningham 020 7984 8186 or
07765407903. Please find attached the Communities and Local Government
WAYS HOME INFORMATION PACKS AREN’T VERY INFORMATIVE
addition to licensing blight, Home Information Packs fail to require home
sellers to include information on:
ground stability and the effects of mining or extractions.
risk and other actual or potential environmental hazards.
safety of the wiring
restrictive covenants, including restrictions on resale or
restrictions on use.
to repair or maintain other buildings or land, not within the property
itself (e.g. church property – under chancel repair liability).
of any neighbouring land (other than the property itself) by a public
authority that affects or might affect the property.
potential or actual effects of existing transport services, including
roads, waterways, trams and underground or over-ground railways (e.g.
to any new planned road or highway, where such a development is more
than 200 metres from the property.
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.
of access to, over or affecting the property interest (e.g. can people
walk through your land)
dropped plans to INCLUDE full flood risk information
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.
that including the information would be a key part of their plans against
Information Packs have been developed to make the procedure for buying and
selling homes in
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.”
Increasing Awareness and Resilience to
All Forms of Flooding Including Through Improved Flood Warning,
IGNORED ON DIRTY LAND RISKS
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).
of Property Search Organisations,
CoPSO's response to CLG's HIPs update: Towards 1 June, February
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
claimed today a price reduction of £7590 for the average
house in December of which nearly £2000 can be attributed
directly to HIPs.
Trevor Kent is former president of the
National Association of Estate Agents and a regular property market
ISDN Radio by arrangement
Information Packs: Views of practitioners still divided – Lords
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.
Information Packs: Views of practitioners still divided – Lords
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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
rolled out for all properties from tomorrow
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
complete mess has been made with this legislation. It really would be in
everyone’s best interests to scrap HIPs.”
- Ends -
HIPS FOR ALL A SERIOUS MISTAKE - TREVOR KENT
INFORMATION PACKS FOR ALL PROPERTIES FROM 14TH DECEMBER SAY GOVERNMENT
TODAY - BREATHTAKING
OBSTINACY SAYS NAEA FORMER PRESIDENT.
Kent long-term opponent of Home Information Packs has reacted with
incredulity to news today that HIPs will apply to all homes from 14th
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
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.
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.
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 .
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
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
ISDN QUALITY RADIO AVAILABLE
Over Half of
Home-Moves Reconsidered, Thanks to HIPs
recent survey carried out by the UK's only free online change of address
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.
YES MINISTER, YOU'LL BE A PLAGUE ON ALL OUR HOUSES
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?
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? ".
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
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
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?
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?
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
Radio by appointment
TREVOR KENT is former president of the NAEA, and a regular commentator
on the housing market.
lack of substance characterises latest CLG HIPs communication
and figures needed to back up claims, says NAEA
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.
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%.
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'”.
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
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."
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?"
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.”
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
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".
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.
ISDN Radio by arrangement
HIPs have no future under a Conservative Government
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.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:
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.
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.”
ARE REPRODUCED BELOW:
Department for Communities and Local Government
London SW1E 5DU
As you will be
aware, the Conservative Party has publicly stated that the next
Conservative Government will scrap Home Information Packs.
enclosed a letter that I have written to the Association of Home
Information Pack Providers making the Conservative Party
'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
It should be noted
that the Conservative Party have pledged to keep Energy
I look forward to
Grant Shapps MP
Shadow Housing Minister
Association of Home Information Pack Providers
55 The Ridgeway
15 October 2007
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
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
Grant Shapps MP
Shadow Housing Minister
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
You might be interested to know that there
is a petition calling for tax rebates on gardens that haven't been paved
I could go on, but had better stop.
Les Pook BSc,PhD,CEng,CSci,FIMechE,FIMMM
FROM MY POST BAG
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.
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”.
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
Transaction times ARE reduced: gazumping HAS been reduced – see
research by Consumers Association (who, incidentally, are
still in full favour of HIPs with compulsory
In addition, see results from European countries (eg
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.
GOVERNMENT SLIPS HIPs MK 111
IN FOR 3 BEDROOM HOMES
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
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.
ISDN Radio Comment by arrangement
impose 3-bed HIPs with no consultation, Impact Assessment or mandate
extension of Home Information Packs threatens to destabilise housing
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
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:
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.
extension is happening despite warnings from the housing industry of a
significant fall in 4 bedroom homes being put on the market.
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
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.
Shapps MP, Shadow Minister for Housing, said:
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
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.
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.”
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
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.
MARKET STABILITY AT RISK
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).
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).
OF PARLIAMENTARY SCRUTINY & MANDATE
Housing Act 2004 (Commencement No. 9) (
) 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
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
House of Lords passed a motion to revoke those two pieces of legislation
on 18 July 2007.
House of Commons will be given the opportunity to vote on these until
October – after they have come into effect.
TO YVETTE COOPER
Hon Yvette Cooper MP,
Minster for Housing,
House of Commons,
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.
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.
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
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
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?
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?
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.
Shapps MP, Shadow Housing Minister”
I C S
"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."
Society statement regarding use of personal searches in HIPs
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
"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."
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.”
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
“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
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.
OVER SECOND PHASE IMPLEMENTATION OF HIPs SO SOON!
the Government announced that Home Information Packs and Energy
Performance Certificates will be launched for three bedroom properties in
Monday 10th September 2007
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.
NAEA will be closely monitoring its impact on the market in
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."
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
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
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
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."
slams Labour Ministers for Home Information Pack sleaze
Audit Office criticises Government handling of financial irregularities
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.
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:
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
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."
Monday, 30th July 2007
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
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
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
ISDN radio quality available
Monday, 30th July 2007
the State to inspect your
home - to help taxman hike your
Information Pack database laying ground for ‘backdoor’ council tax
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.
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
's largest estate agent database, Rightmove, as well as the Land Registry,
's property deeds database, to gather information on homes ahead of the
council tax revaluation in
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”.
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’
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.
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.
Pickles, Conservative Shadow Secretary of State for Local Government &
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.
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.
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.”
Wednesday, 18th July 2007
of Lords again calls on government to revoke HIPs
NAEA expresses concern over energy assessors
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
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.
the government can of course ignore this motion, as it was not a fatal
bill, this nevertheless sends another clear message.
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
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.
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.”
Tuesday, 22nd May 2007
Law Society news: Government in disarray over HIPs
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."
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
Tuesday, 22nd May 2007
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.
Tuesday, 22nd May 2007
Government’s 11th hour climbdown over HIPs
in the House of Commons today, in response to the Government’s oral
statement on HIPs, Shadow Housing Minister Michael Gove said:
I thank the minister for sight of her announcement which I received just
25 minutes before hand?
this has been a day for doing everything at the last minute.
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?
didn’t ministers take the opportunity we offered last week to think
it stubborn vanity, or sheer incompetence?
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
did ministers press ahead with a scheme which everyone who knows
anything about the housing market was telling them was flawed at the
those warnings, unlike this climbdown, did not come at the eleventh
this house, at this despatch box, a year ago we told the Government
their scheme was flawed. The Government told us we were scaremongering
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?
didn’t they take the opportunity then to work with us and others to
put the stability of the housing market first?
did ministers decide instead to ignore the growing chorus of concern,
shut out expert advice and carry on regardless?
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?
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
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
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?
even after today’s announcement key questions remain unanswered.
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.
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?
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?
did she know the real numbers? And why didn’t she inform the House
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?
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?
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
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.
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?
Monday, 14th May 2007
HOME INFORMATION PACKS AND WHAT THEY WILL MEAN TO YOUR CONSTITUENTS
Tuesday 1 May
Wake up call for
Government on HIPs
on today's report on HIPs by the Lords Committee on the Merits of
Statutory Instruments, Paul Marsh, Law Society Deputy Vice President,
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."
information call Melissa Davis in the Law Society press office on 020 7320
Interim Head of Press
Tuesday 1 May
Information Packs - The Government have got this wrong
on the publication of a heavily critical report by a House of Lords
Committee into HIPs Michael Gove, Conservative Housing spokesman, said:
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.
the Consumers Association to the Better Regulation Commission, from
mortgage lenders to family solicitors, the chorus of opposition to HIPs is
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.
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.”
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
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
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
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
to succeed, the Regulations
would have to be redrawn heralding a timely end to June 1
DAILY TELEGRAPH 25/4/07
DAILY MAIL 25/4/07
- 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
to News & Views - Number 5