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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Home packs face legal challenge
Viewing a house
Home Information Packs will become mandatory in June 2007
The government is facing a legal challenge to the launch of compulsory home information packs (HIPs).

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said it would seek a judicial review because the government had not consulted properly on the law.

Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly called RICS "anti-consumer and anti-green".

From 1 June, homes put up for sale in England and Wales must have a HIP with title deeds and an energy performance certificate, costing sellers 400-600.

"RICS has not made the decision to commence judicial review proceedings lightly," said Teresa Graham of RICS.

"We have exhausted all the alternatives and greatly regret that we were left with no other option if we are to protect the public's property interests."

Criticism

HIPs are very controversial, with a host of housing industry bodies calling for a delay to their introduction in England and Wales.

PACKS WILL INCLUDE
Evidence of title
Copies of planning, listed building or building regulations consents
A local search
Guarantees for any work on the property
An energy performance certificate.

On Wednesday, the introduction of HIPs is to be debated in Parliament.

Recently, a House of Lords committee described the opposition to the introduction of Home Information Packs as "striking" and "widespread".

Critics have said that the industry and consumers are not ready for the introduction.

In particular, there are concerns that there are not enough qualified people to carry out the inspections necessary for the issuing of energy performance certificates - a key component of HIPs.

However, proponents of HIPs and the government are adamant that there is no shortage of inspectors and expect the introduction to go smoothly.

Ms Kelly it called the legal challenge "groundless" and said the government would vigorously oppose it.

"We expect energy performance certificates to save nearly one million tonnes of carbon each year by 2020," she said and warned that the proposals outlined by RICS would put this "at risk".

Rush of sellers

According to April's survey of RICS members, the imminent introduction of HIPs is having a slight distorting effect on the housing market.

Surveyors report that increasing numbers of sellers are listing their properties early in order to avoid the upfront cost of assembling the pack
RICS report

Homeowners, it was claimed, are rushing to put their property up for sale before the introduction of HIPs in order to beat the deadline to avoid the estimated 400-600 cost of a pack.

Property marketed before the deadline does not have to have a HIP until 2008.

The report said that new instructions to sell property rose for the second consecutive months and "surveyors report that increasing numbers of sellers are listing their properties early in order to avoid the upfront cost of assembling the pack."

As a result, RICS said the stock of unsold property had risen for the first time since last November.

Price growth

Nevertheless, house prices are still growing in most parts of the UK and in particular Northern Ireland and London.

This could increase the chances of further rises in UK interest rates, RICS said.

"Last week's interest rate rise may not be the last as the housing market has not slowed as quickly as expected given the initial round of rate rises," Ian Perry, RICS spokesman said.

The RICS report is in line with other housing market surveys from the Nationwide and Halifax, which have shown prices continuing to grow.




SEE ALSO
Q&A: Home information packs
01 May 07 |  Business
Home seller's pack trial starts
06 Nov 06 |  England
'Abolish home packs' say lenders
27 Oct 06 |  Business
Six locations to test home packs
11 Aug 06 |  England
'U-turn' claim over house packs
18 Jul 06 |  UK Politics
Why buyers distrust house surveys
26 Feb 05 |  Business

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