Home Information Packs
An investigation has claimed that Home Information Packs (HIPs) are 'not worth the paper they are written on.'
The report by Birmingham Trading Standards says that five out of six packs are misleading home buyers.
The HIPs were introduced August 2007 to inform buyers of key information about properties they wanted to buy, however the investigation states the packs are wrong.
At about £350, the Government hoped the documents, which contain an energy performance certificate, local searches, title deeds, leases and local planning applications, would speed up the process of selling a house.
Trading standards officers examined HIPs from 15 Birmingham estate agents and found information was either not available or contained answers 'not as far as is known' despite the information being available from local authorities.
Information that was included was found to be wrong, contained inaccurate planning histories or inaccurate planning proposal dates. Others incorrectly said there were no planning restrictions or that a house was not inside a restrictive conservation area.
A property was even said to be in Worcestershire when it was actually in Birmingham.
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Lisa Shenton from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "In theory, HIPs packs should speed up the conveyancing process. However, this investigation demonstrates that HIP searches don't always provide accurate information and could mislead buyers which in turn may lead to a delay in exchange of contracts. Customers should shop around for reputable HIP providers that provide a thorough and reliable service."