Wednesday, 17 December 2008

New blow to Lincolnshire’s housing market from new HIP fines and red tape

New Home Information Pack rules will hurt housing market

Giles McNeill, Prospective County Council Candidate for the Nettleham & Saxilby Division, expressed concern today at the announcement by the Government that Home Information Pack regulations will be tightened, pushing up the costs for Lincolnshire’s residents trying to sell their home. This will include forcing town halls to become more aggressive in issuing fines for breaching the burdensome rules. Home Information Packs became compulsory for all homes one year ago on 14 December.

Government research into Home Information Packs has recently found that there is minimal public knowledge and interest in HIPs; that the industry thinks they are a waste of time; that they duplicate costs and that buyers are not bothering to consult HIPs. Yet the Government has announced the following changes:

• Heavy-handed fines: Town halls will be instructed to “identify specific cases of non-compliance and enforce the requirements”. This raises the prospect that Lincolnshire County Council will be forced to start fining home owners £200 a time who do not follow the rules.

• Making it more difficult to advertise your home: From April 2009, the Government is cancelling the “first day marketing” provisions. These allow sellers to place their home on the market if a HIP has been ordered, but has not yet been completed. The cancellation will be mean that sellers will have to wait longer before they can put their home on the market. They will be fined if they advertise their property without a HIP.

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

Giles said:
“Home Information Packs have already harmed the market and discouraged sellers. The last thing Lincolnshire needs is the prospect of heavy-handed fines being levied by town hall officials.

“The housing market is on its knees and Labour’s response is to make it more difficult and 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 Lincolnshire’s ailing market.”

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