I have today laid before Parliament the Home Information Pack Regulations 2006, made under the Housing Act 2004. This is a key milestone for the introduction of home information packs throughout England and Wales from 1 June 2007.
The Regulations prescribe the contents of home information packs. They provide for exceptions from the Home Information Pack duties, and make provision for the approval of certification schemes in connection with home condition reports. The Regulations also make transitional provision for homes already on the market when the Home Information Pack duties come into force, and specify the level of penalty charge that may be levied where these are breached.
Making the Regulations a year ahead of the Home Information Pack duties coming into force ensures that the industry has good time to prepare for the introduction of packs, including processes for assembling and supplying pack documents which comply with the Regulations and bring genuine benefits for consumers. It also enables the Secretary of State to approve certification schemes required to ensure that there are enough home inspectors qualified and able to prepare home condition reports.
The Regulations and the principles underlying them have been the subject of extensive consultation with the industry and consumers. Consideration of consultation responses and drafting of the Regulations have been undertaken in close consultation with consumer and industry organisations including Which?, The Law Society, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, National Association of Estate Agents and the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
The detailed content of home information packs prescribed in the Regulations will be tested fully during the dry run or phased implementation being undertaken over the next few months, as well as through further discussions with stakeholders, so that lessons can be learned and any changes made in time for full implementation next year. Home information packs aim to deliver:
A reduction in waste and duplication because different buyers won't have to pay several times for the same information - especially when sales fall through;
A reduction in the number of failed transactions because information on the condition of the property is available at the beginning, rather than problems emerging late in the day;
Fewer delays because information is provided at the beginning;
Increased competition and transparency in the market;
Better energy efficiency information on homes with practical information on how to cut fuel bills and costs for first time buyers;
Reduced costs for first-time buyers, who will get HIPs for free as costs are transferred from buyers to sellers: and
Improved redress arrangements for consumers when things go wrong. All estate agents marketing homes with home information packs will be required to belong to an approved independent redress scheme.
The industry is already developing home information pack systems and intends to market these well in advance of the packs becoming mandatory. An increasing number of estate agents and property professionals are already providing partial packs on a voluntary basis. These developments, backed by the Regulations, mean that sellers and buyers will not have to wait until June 2007 before they can benefit from the improvements that the packs will deliver to the home buying and selling process.
The Government have also published the standards for the Certification Schemes for home inspectors. These will ensure that home inspectors are properly qualified and have proper industry insurance so that buyers, sellers and lenders can have full confidence in the home condition report.
Once the Certification Schemes are in place later in the year, the dry run of voluntary home information packs will accelerate. The Government will ensure there is extensive assessment and monitoring of the dry run.
Guidance on the Regulations and an assessment of the impact of the introduction of home information packs are being published on the dedicated website http://www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1500716.
Copies will be available in both Libraries of the House.