Five out of six Home Information Packs (HIPs), which were launched last August to give information to homebuyers, are just misleading them, according an investigations by Trading Standards officers.
Details that were meant to be in the pack to aid buyers making a decision on whether to buy a home or not, were inaccurate, incomplete or simply missing.
The packs, which cost about £350 to produce, include an energy performance certificate, local searches, the title deeds, leases and information about any planning applications in the area.
The intention was to speed up the buying process and give relevant details to buyers, hopefully, saving them money and hassle in the long run.
But, the enquiry by trading standards officers in Birmingham, who analysed HIPS from 15 estate agents in the city, found they contained serious errors.
Many said information was not available or replied to questions with ‘not as far as is known,’ even if the information was readily available from the local authority.
Inaccurate dates were given for planning proposals and incorrect declarations were made regarding whether the home for sale was in a conservation area.
Trading standards officers called five of the six HIPs chosen at random unsatisfactory, suggesting that private search companies are taking shortcuts when gathering details to save money.
Birmingham Trading Standards have written to the companies concerned, requesting them to explain the inaccuracies and missing details.
Nick Salmon, head of the SPLINTA campaign (Sellers’ Pack Law is Not the Answer), says there is no substitute for proper legal advice and carrying out due diligence.
‘It is regrettable there have been errors in the packs, but it won’t make much difference, as nobody bothers reading them anyhow.’