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Home Information Packs

Volume 460: debated on Thursday 24 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her Department’s latest estimate is of the average cost of a Home Information Pack, including VAT, following the publication of the proposals in her consultation paper, Home Information Pack Update: towards 1 June. (129194)

The market price for a Home Information Pack (HIP) will vary depending on a number of factors including the size, value and type of the property. The only new element in the HIP is the energy performance certificate which is likely to cost around £100. All other elements are currently paid for in the home buying and selling process. For the purposes of the revised RIA which will be published alongside revised regulations, we have estimated the cost of a HIP for be £370 plus VAT. However, we do expect competition in the market to drive down prices. Some providers have said they will offer HIPs on a no sale-no fee basis, and others have said they will offer HIPs for free.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she plans to publish the findings of the Government-commissioned research monitoring the Home Information Pack trials; and whether the research will show (a) how many sellers chose to include the Home Condition Report in the Home Information Pack, (b) how many lawyers desired the inclusion of a Home Condition Report and (c) the values of the sampled transactions. (130747)

We will be publishing findings from the independent research into the area trials as the trials progress. The research will show how many sellers chose to include the home condition report in the home information pack. The decision whether or not to include a home condition report rests with the seller and is not a matter for conveyancers. We will not know the value of transactions involving HIPs until the transactions complete, which in many cases will not be until much later in the year. This information will be provided in the final report expected at the end of this year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much has been spent on the marketing and advertising campaign to promote home information packs and energy performance certificates which commenced on 25 March. (133579)

The total spend to date on the national marketing and advertising campaign to promote the home information pack that started on 25 March 2007 is £895,000. Of this, £825,000 has been spent on advertising and £70,000 on marketing.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent discussions she has had with the Treasury on the cost of implementing home information packs. (135647)

The two Departments have discussed Home Information Packs at key stages in the development of the policy. These discussions have included implementation costs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the re-mandation of Home Condition Reports will be considered as part of the review of the transitory arrangements for home information packs scheduled for December 2007. (135947)

I refer my hon. Friend to the statement made to the House by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 22 May.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many inspectors are trained to carry out the environmental survey for home information packs. (136345)

There are more than 1,500 home inspectors and domestic energy assessors who are either accredited or have applied for accreditation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what mechanisms are in place for monitoring the accuracy and completeness of home information packs. (136471)

Those responsible for marketing will be under a duty to make sure that home information packs comply with the Home Information Pack Regulations 2007. Local authority trading standards officers, who have considerable expertise at their command, will be responsible for enforcing the duties including the investigation of complaints that packs do not comply with the regulations. Enforcement authorities will have a range of enforcement options, including the service of a fixed penalty charge of £200.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps she has taken to establish an effective scheme to provide professional indemnity insurance for home information pack inspectors. (136474)

The insurance standards, set out in the Standards for Certification Schemes, were drawn up after extensive research and consultation with stakeholders, including the surveying and insurance industries. The standards specify minimum terms for acceptable indemnity insurance which will ensure that consumers are protected while being commercially viable for insurers and home inspectors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions she has had with HM Treasury on how much value added tax is expected to be collected via Home Information Packs in the first year of operation; and if she will make a statement. (137416)

[holding answer 16 May 2007]: VAT is already payable on most elements of the Home Information Pack (HIP) in the current buying and selling process. The only new element of the pack is the Energy Performance Certificate which is required as a consequence of European legislation. The Energy Savings Trust has established that Energy Performance Certificates could save homeowners around £300 a year on their fuel bills.

Any additional costs imposed are expected to be broadly offset by savings, including savings made as a result of reductions both in the number of failed transactions and the amount wasted each time a transaction fails. As we expect that, overall, any additional costs will be broadly offset by cost savings we expect that the VAT impact of HIPs will be broadly neutral.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 20 April 2007, Official Report, column 792W, on home information packs, which organisation the concession agreement has been made with; what the total value is of the concession agreement contract; and if she will place a copy of the concession agreement in the Library. (137514)

The concession agreement was awarded to Landmark Solutions, part of Landmark Information Group Ltd to operate the register of Home Condition Reports and Energy Performance Certificates for dwellings. Landmark operate this facility of behalf of Communities and Local Government by the way of a concession contract.

The value of the concession agreement is entirely dependant on the volume of home condition reports and energy performance certificates lodged in the register. A lodgement fee of £1.15 is paid by a certification scheme or accreditation scheme each time a home condition report or energy performance certificate is lodged in the register.

We intend to place a copy of the concession agreement in the Library once we have obtained agreement from Landmark and removed any commercially sensitive information.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether her Department has been invited by the National Audit Office to comment on its draft report on the use of consultants on the home improvement pack programme. (137551)

Officials have had a number of discussions on the draft report with National Audit Office officials.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the potential effect of the introduction of home information packs on the number of house sales prior to 1 June 2007. (137572)

Given that a number of estate agents are running promotional campaigns to get sellers to list properties early, it would be no surprise if the number of properties marketed for sale in advance of home information packs were affected. However, short term fluctuations in the volume of new listings are already a common feature of the housing market. Factors such as interest rates are likely to be a far more important determinant of the number of house sales.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether domestic energy inspectors will be required to have Criminal Record Bureau checks. (137576)

The standards set for accreditation schemes prescribe a Criminal Record Bureau check as mandatory requirement to be undertaken on all potential Domestic Energy Assessors when they apply to join an Energy Assessor Accreditation Scheme.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many (a) home inspectors and (b) domestic energy inspectors have been both trained and accredited. (137577)

I refer to the hon. Gentleman to the statement made to the House by my right. hon. Friend, the Secretary of State on 22 May.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of whether the cost of home information packs will be higher than the national average figure in (a) London and (b) the South East. (137578)

The price of a Home Information Pack will be set by the market and not by Government. The cost of compiling a Home Information Pack will vary depending on a number of factors including the size, value and type of the property.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effect of the disclosure of information in home information packs on the security of personal identity; and if she will make a statement. (137921)

[holding answer 17 May 2007]: We have consulted with the Identity Theft Unit at the Home Office, who are satisfied that Home Information Packs do not pose a significant risk in this area.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what advice she has received on the compatibility of the provision of architects’ and surveyors’ flat layout drawings in leases as photocopies in home information packs with copyright law. (138070)

The Home Information Pack regulations provide that the pack must include a copy of the lease where a leasehold property is marketed for sale. The lease will usually include a description of the property and a plan of its layout. The regulations provide that the lease can be an official copy of the lease obtained from the Land Registry, the original lease or an edited version of the lease if it is only available in that form. Where a potential buyer asks for a copy of the lease, this can be provided without breaching copyright law. As would be the case currently, sellers who wish to provide copies of other information that is subject to copyright restrictions should seek permission to reproduce the material.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the Good Practice Guidance for local authorities on delivering property searches will be available by the time home information packs become mandatory on 1st June. (139263)

An announced in the House on 22 May, Home Information Packs will be introduced from 1 August 2007 on a phased basis. The draft good practice guidance for local authorities and personal searchers ‘Delivering Property Searches’ was issued for consultation by the Department on 1 May 2007. The period to receive responses ends on 26 June 2007 and we intend to issue the final guidance shortly afterwards.