HIPs providers challenged by Trading Standards

'Serious flaws' found in five out of six Home Information Packs

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In a recent investigation, Trading Standards officers found 'serious flaws' in five out of six Home Information Packs.

An investigation by Trading Standards has found that house buyers are being misled because vital information supposed to found in Home Information Packs (HIPs) is inaccurate, incomplete or missing.

Trading Standards officers found incorrect information in searches, and information that could have been supplied by the local authority was falsely said to be unavailable. It is understood that the faulty searches were not official searches but provided by personal search firms.

Officers went into 15 estate agencies in Birmingham and asked to see the HIP for each property. They randomly selected six from the 15 and subjected the local searches contained in the documents to detailed inspection. Trading Standards classed five out of the six as unsatisfactory.

Independent Pack Providers Association

Officers suspect that private search companies are making short cuts to save money leading to problems highlighted later by solicitors.

Christian Harper, of Chiswick based estate agent Oliver Finn: “The results of the Trading Standards survey are appalling but unfortunately they’re not surprising. If our vendors want to pick their own provider, that’s fine by us, but there is no redress if something goes wrong. It comes down to trusting an untraceable stranger to pick up keys and access your property."

Oliver Finn use the only IPPA accredited HIP provider covering Chiswick: “He is known to us personally, has done a good job for our clients in the past, and can be trusted with a set of keys. This service costs £350 but sometimes vendors get drawn in by the promises of cheap online HIP providers that operate nationally. You can get a HIP for less but this investigation proves you get what you pay for."

Sometimes it is better to stick with a small local provider who can handle the work load and deliver with quality. Birmingham Trading Standards has now written to the companies involved asking them to explain the inaccuracies and missing information.

Christian Harper Oliver Finn

October 16, 2008