Ministers ‘ignoring’ Hips fears

The government has been accused of ignoring industry concerns over the forthcoming introduction of home information packs (Hips).

Industry representatives requested a meeting with housing minister Yvette Cooper earlier this month and after that was refused have now sent a second letter outlining their concerns.

The group, made up of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) and Law Society, argue Hips will disrupt the housing market and could have wider economic repercussions.

From June 1st this year, all homeowners must have a pack prepared, including deeds and an energy performance certificate, before they can legally market their property.

Charles Smailes, president of the NAEA, said: “We support the government in their policy objectives, to improve the home buying and selling process, and are prepared to work with them on this.

“However, it is clear that there is considerably more work to be done if Hips are to be a workable solution, and there is simply not enough time for the issues to be resolved before the 1st June.

“In their current format, Hips will prove to be ineffective and vastly impractical.”

However, the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) claims it has been in “continuous consultation and discussion” over the introduction of Hips, including meetings with Rics, the CML, the NAEA and the Law Society.

A spokesman said: “Hips will save costs and improve the operation of the housing market by providing better, faster information and greater transparency about services to consumers and by improving price competition, which does not operate effectively in many parts of the market.

“There is no evidence to suggest that Hips will damage the housing market. However, they will clearly bring in new providers and competitors into the market and understandably that makes some existing providers rather nervous.”

The Conservatives, however, accused the government of “burying its head in the sand” over opposition to Hips.

Shadow local government secretary Caroline Spelman said: “So far the government has tried to ignore the concerns of both industry experts and the general public, but with just a few months to go before these packs are meant to be introduced, none of those criticisms have been addressed.

“It became clear months ago that they were pushing ahead with the packs as a face saving exercise for ministers. But this expensive red tape will not deliver the improvements the housing markets needs.”