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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005, 18:36 GMT
MSPs support house survey reforms
Houses
There was opposition to the overhaul of property rules
Compulsory "seller surveys" are to be introduced in Scotland from 2007 following a Holyrood vote.

MSPs passed the new housing bill which means sellers will have to provide a surveyor's report before they can put their property on the market.

They can then retrieve the cost of the survey from the buyer of the property.

The move forms part of wider reforms brought in by the Housing (Scotland) Bill, which was agreed in parliament by 116 votes to one with no abstentions.

The bill will strengthen the rights of councils to make sure private landlords keep their properties in good condition.

If there was a handbook on how not to legislate, the single seller survey would be the leading chapter
Mary Scanlon
Scottish Tories

It also reforms the law on multiply occupancy and will give disabled people more support to adapt their houses.

The Scottish Greens were disappointed that the bill did not set a target for improving the energy efficiency of homes.

However, MSPs approved an amendment requiring ministers to draw up a strategy on the issue.

The seller surveys will be brought in despite a voluntary pilot scheme being scrapped after seven months when 74 surveys were commissioned compared to a planned 1,200.

Multiple surveys

Surveyors and estate agents said the surveys and Purchasers Information Packs, which will cost up to 1,000, will deter people putting their properties on the market.

However, the Scottish Executive said it would avoid multiple surveys where potential buyers have to do survey after survey for bids they fail to win.

It said the seller's survey will provide everyone with a professional assessment of the state of the property and encourage householders to maintain their homes.
The purchaser will not be as well informed as he or she is at present
John Lints
Property lawyer

Objectors, who have called for the measure to be scrapped, said the failure of a voluntary scheme proved it was not something the public wanted.

They argued the shake-up - which they described as unwise, unwanted and unworkable - could mean that fewer properties would be put on the market, pushing up prices.

A spokesman for the ELPG group of property solicitors, John Lints, said: "The purchaser will not be able to discuss directly with the surveyor any issue arising from the survey report and will therefore not be as well informed as he or she is at present."

In evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Communities Committee, the idea of seller surveys was rejected by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the Association of Estate Agents and the Law Society.

Surveyor
Under the current system each potential buyer orders a survey

Scottish National Party social justice spokeswoman Christine Grahame said her party backed single seller surveys but raised concerns about their shelf life and conflicts of interest, pointing out that the principle purpose of valuations were for mortgage lenders.

Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm said the scheme was based on two years of research, deliberations and consultation.

This will greatly simplify the buying and selling process for everyone
Malcolm Chisholm
Communities Minister

"It's utterly bizarre that when you buy a can of beans you know more about it than many people do about the house they want to buy when you make an offer," he said.

He said the single survey would provide "in-depth, quality information" to buyers about the condition of the house.

"This will greatly simplify the buying and selling process for everyone," he said.

The bill will also bring in a tenancy deposit scheme which aims to resolve disputes over the refund of rent deposits more quickly.

Mr Chisholm added: "The bill is the cornerstone to our culture change and we're determined to make continuing efforts to make that change a lasting one.

"It's an important bill driven by the concern that people in Scotland should live in houses fit for the 21st century."




SEE ALSO:
House experts reject survey plan
19 Apr 05 |  Scotland
Low uptake for single survey move
21 Feb 05 |  Scotland
Launch for single survey scheme
14 Jul 04 |  Scotland
Warning over single survey plan
26 May 04 |  Scotland
Plan to banish multiple surveys
05 Nov 03 |  Scotland


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