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Ministers Urged Not to Repeat HIP Fiasco

By Monidipa Fouzder – Conveyancers are counselling caution on reform of the homebuying process after confirmation of a government review rekindled memories of the much criticised home information packs (HIPs) scrapped in 2010.

The Department for Business, innovation & Skills will publish a ‘call for evidence’ later this year, it was confirmed last week at a Westminster Hall debate.

During the debate, Tory MP Kevin Hollinbrake alluded to the ‘ill-fated’ HIPs introduced in 2007 and suggested any change to legislation should involve consultation with the estate agent industry and legal profession.

Beth Rudolf, director of delivery at the Conveyancing Association, said there is consensus that ‘earlier, upfront delivery of the right information can make a big difference.’ Resolving issues around leasehold sales and closing legal loopholes to deliver a leasehold redress scheme would make big differences, she said, while ‘ridiculous delays’ in the delivery of local authority information also need to be addressed.

Law Society president Jonathan Smithers, a conveyancing specialist, said he understands BIS will be looking at aspects of the whole process including wasted costs when transactions do not proceed to completion.

He said: ‘There is a wide variety of reasons for sales not proceeding including change in circumstance, the discovery of new information during the process and the necessity to comply with lenders’ requirements. Giving consumers more detailed explanations of the process, and making sure that they are aware they have the ability to break chains and enter into pre-contract agreements to prevent gazumping and gazundering may warrant some further consideration.’

Other ideas floated in an online Gazette debate include bringing back HIPs minus local authority search and surveys, ‘scale fees’ and separate representation for purchasers and lenders.

(Courtesy: Law Society Gazette)