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Home Information Packs

Volume 503: debated on Thursday 7 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment he has made of the level of compliance of (a) estate agents and (b) home-sellers with requirements relating to home information packs. (308256)

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 8 July 2009, Official Report, columns 902-03W, to the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Jackson).

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Meriden of 18 May 2009, Official Report, column 1211W, on home information packs, (1) whether rules on misleading omissions apply to property information questionnaires constituting a marketing communication between a home seller and a home buyer; (308603)

(2) whether estate agents are liable for misleading omissions made by a home seller producing a property information questionnaire; and what obligations estate agents have to check the (a) accuracy and (b) truthfulness of property information questionnaires.

Section 155 of the Housing Act 2004 provides that the person responsible for marketing is under a duty to have a Home Information Pack (HIP) in his possession which complies with the Home Information Pack (No. 2) Regulations 2007. Where the person responsible for marketing is an estate agent, Regulation 36 provides that he cannot be held in breach where a document (other than the Index and Sale Statement) fails to comply with the Regulations and the agent believed on reasonable grounds that it did comply.

Estate agents are under a duty under the Home Information Pack (No. 2) Regulations 2007 to ensure that the HIP includes a completed Property Information Questionnaire (PIQ) but are not under a duty to ensure that the answers given by the seller are accurate and truthful. An estate agent could be in breach of the Consumer Protection Regulations (CPRs) if he failed to act on information in the PIQ which he knew to be inaccurate or untruthful, because they are required by the CPRs to act in accordance with honest market practice and good faith.