Property lawyers back call to make HIPs voluntary
A Midland property lawyer has endorsed the findings of a major report that home information packs are not working and are “the worst of all worlds”.
Frances Lees, head of residential property at Stratford-upon-Avon law firm Lodders welcomed recommendations from Sir Bryan Carsberg, former head of the Office of Fair Trading, that HIPs should be made voluntary.
“I am of the same view as Sir Bryan that home information packs have turned out to provide the worst of all worlds in a slack housing market,” said Ms Lees. “The introduction of HIPs by the Government last year was the biggest recent change in England and Wales to the sale of residential property.
“They were originally designed to provide much more information up front to potential house buyers – and to cut short the often frustrating process of buying a home.
“It is clear that this has not happened and most of the good intentions behind the introduction of HIPs have misfired.”
In his report commissioned last year by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the National Association of Estate Agents and the Association of Residential Letting Agents, Sir Bryan recommends that HIPs should become purely voluntary because the new system is not working.
He states: “Some would summarise the position by saying that the HIP provides the worst of all worlds – it omits much of the most useful information but still imposes significant costs on the property transaction.”
He also recommends that HIPs should not, as was once intended, include a survey of the property that is being sold.
“It is simply not appropriate for legislation to lay down how consumers should conduct transactions unless there is a substantial public interest in the transaction – and I do not think there is in the case of buying and selling residential property,” he said.
Sir Bryan’s report, which contains 30 recommendations to improve the way the residential property market works, was commissioned to look at ways to improve regulation, standards and methods of redress for people buying or renting property.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has welcomed the report as the basis for “major reform” of the industry.
Miss Lees added: “The report has clarified the situation in the residential property market and as a lawyer specialising in the field I do hope it receives serious consideration from the Government.”