Experts Squabble Over Hips Schedule

With Just 100 days to go until home information packs (Hips) become mandatory for all sellers in the UK, the government has come under fresh pressure to postpone the scheme.

Hips are designed to speed up the buying and selling process, which currently loses ?1 million a day through collapsed sales.

The idea is for sellers to compile the packs themselves so that buyers have everything they need to know about a property without needing to carry out costly surveys themselves. In addition, the Hips are supposed to increase transparency in a market that is often said to be clouded in misrepresentations.

But the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) believes that there are still major problems with the provision of the packs and that there is not sufficient time to rectify the process with adequate testing.

In particular it claims that research published in January does not justify the benefits of Hips and the upcoming regulatory impact assessments, due to be released next month, will come too late for proper scrutiny before the June 1 st deadline.

Also the CML is concerned that there will not be enough green assessors as of June 1st and so sellers will have to hold their properties off the market while they try to find a qualified firm to compile the obligatory energy performance certificate (EPC).

Jackie Bennett, CML's head of policy, said: "No-one would dispute that the house-buying process is slow in the UK and could usefully be speeded up to benefit consumers. But there is no clear evidence that Hips will solve the problems.

"There are still far too many unknowns about the potential market impacts. We call on the government to postpone the introduction of Hips until they have been properly trialled and reviewed."

This statement brought a swift and cutting response from the Association of Home Information Pack Providers (AHIPP), the organisation responsible for implementing the scheme.

Mike Ockenden, director general of AHIPP, criticised CML for its "mischievous reaction" that will "create further uncertainty in the minds of the public".

As today marks the end of the government's consultation period, AHIPP believes the CML should have come up with its criticisms sooner.

Without going into specifics, Mr Ockenden added: "To our minds the CML has not got its act together and if they wish to see proof that both the public and industry have embraced Hips during our initial dry run we would happily share this information with them."

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