Following persistent criticisms of Home Information Packs (HIPs), Housing Minister Caroline Flint has announced new proposals 'to improve the quality and flow of information consumers receive through the HIP'.

A consultation has been launched proposing the inclusion in the HIP of a 'Property Information Questionnaire' (PIQ), which is designed to provide additional information for buyers and which will be easy for sellers to provide without professional help. The main purpose of the PIQ is to reduce the chances of information coming to light further down the line that could cause delay or even cause a transaction to fail. The PIQ will be freely available to download from the Internet.

Changes re leaseholds

The consultation paper also sets out proposals for finalising leasehold requirements for HIPs.

Under the new proposals, the lease and summary of key information will form the mandatory leasehold requirements for leasehold properties. This will ensure buyers can make more informed decisions when considering making an offer on a leasehold property.

Leasehold information will be included in the proposed PIQ and will capture what a potential buyer wants to know about the cost and use of a property and remove the need for leaseholders to provide large volumes of information before marketing, saving them time and money.

At the same time a consultation aimed at improving the quality of local authority property searches has been launched.

First HIPs Penalty

It was also announced this week that the first penalty for failing to join an approved HIPs redress scheme has been levied against an Oxfordshire estate agent.

Estate agents in England and Wales marketing homes for sale with HIPs must belong to an approved redress scheme for HIP related complaints, giving consumers guaranteed access to redress for HIP related complaints against estate agents.