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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 May 2007, 19:55 GMT 20:55 UK
Home info packs delayed to August
Viewing a house
Critics say Home Information Packs will add to the cost of selling
The introduction of Home Information Packs is to be delayed until 1 August - when they will be brought in for sales of homes with four bedrooms or more.

The packs were due to become compulsory for all home sales in England and Wales from 1 June.

But Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly told MPs the packs would be phased in.

She also said that initially sellers would only have to have commissioned a pack, rather than have a completed one, before marketing their property.

The delay comes after a judge, ruling on a legal challenge from surveyors, said the energy performance certificates should be left out of the packs "for the time being".

The legal challenge from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) was based on what they said was a lack of proper consultation on the packs.

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.

Ms Kelly told MPs that RICS and the government had reached "a pragmatic way forward that gives certainty and allows us to get on with implementation".

However, a spokesman for RICS denied they had agreed to drop the legal challenge and questioned how the packs could be introduced from 1 August, when the 12-week consultation agreed to would still be taking place.

Ministers have increasingly used the energy certificates to justify the packs, saying they would help to persuade people to make their homes more energy efficient and thus cut carbon emissions.

'Misinformation'

Ms Kelly said that, in the wake of the legal ruling, it was worth delaying the packs rather than launching them without the energy certificate.

She said the two-month delay would give more time for energy assessors to be trained, admitting that there were only 520 fully trained and accredited assessors - rather than the 2,000 or more needed.

She blamed the shortage of assessors on uncertainty about packs as a result of "misinformation" from opponents and the legal challenge.

There were plenty more assessors currently being trained and the packs would be brought in for smaller properties after August "as rapidly as possible - as sufficient energy assessors become ready to work", she said.

HAVE YOUR SAY
We have put our house on the market a month early simply to avoid the cost of these packs
Laura Berbank, Medway

Shadow housing minister Michael Gove described the delay as a "desperate last-minute retreat".

"How can ministers ever again ask to be taken seriously on the environment when they have comprehensively mismanaged a measure they argued throughout was vital to fighting climate change?"

The Liberal Democrats said the government had shown "complete incompetence" over the packs.

Its local government spokesman Andrew Stunell said: "The piecemeal implementation of this jinxed scheme will only result in yet more confusion for buyers and sellers.

"Tackling climate change requires improving the energy efficiency of existing homes, but the one measure proposed by ministers is now delayed because of their bungling."

The National Association of Estate Agents said the phased implementation was "confusing thing even further" for sellers, and expressed disappointment that the government had not listened to its concerns about the lack of qualified assessors earlier.

Environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth called the energy performance certificates "a crucial measure that will help householders tackle climate change and cut energy bills".


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VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Home Information Packs explained



VOTE RESULTS
Are Home Information Packs a good idea?
Yes
 22.31% 
No
 69.39% 
Not sure
 8.30% 
18976 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

SEE ALSO
Tories fail to scrap home packs
16 May 07 |  UK Politics
Home packs face legal challenge
15 May 07 |  Business
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

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