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Government makes HIPs requirement u-turn

The UK government will not include home condition reports as an obligatory part of its initial roll-out of the controversial home information packs (HIPs) as it believes that there will not be enough home inspectors ready in time to fulfil demand.

Shadow minister for housing and planning, Michael Gove said: The government’s ongoing plans for home information packs are now a complete shambles. After the U-turn on police mergers and the delay over identity cards, this is the third Whitehall farce in a week.

The home condition report (HCR) is a survey of the house, carried out by a certified home inspector that must be provided to potential buyers interested in a property as part of the HIPs legislation being introduced by the government. However, the report has been criticized by some in the housing industry for potentially deterring buyers and burdening the seller with extra costs.

The shortage of home inspectors, in addition to evidence from the Council of Mortgage Lenders which shows that many lenders will not be in a position to use the report as a valuation, led to the decision according to the government. The packs, with searches and energy performance certificates, will still be available from June 2007.

Although the home condition reports will not be compulsory, the government is hoping that sellers will want to include them in the packs to make the transaction smoother. Housing minister Yvette Cooper said: This market-led approach has the added benefit of giving industry more flexibility to innovate and adapt to consumer preferences.

However, Ms Cooper added: Mandatory HCRs will remain on the table if the industry fails to make a success of the roll out of HCRs.