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Agency left in dark by coalition agreement

The agency market has been left in the dark about future housing policy by the newly-created coalition government, which in an agreement published this afternoon [May 12] issued a range of new policies lacking both detail and any reference to timing.

According to the agreement issued by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition party, led by the newly-appointed Prime Minister David Cameron (pictured), capital gains tax will be hiked in line with income tax, which many industry pundits believe spells disaster for the private-rented sector and property supply.

The agreement also pledges to retain Energy Performance Certificates, as required under European law, but to scrap Home Information Packs.

The pledge was revealed as one of a range of bullet points within the 11-section document under the heading ‘environment', which also includes low-carbon and eco-friendly pledges to help boost home energy improvements.

But detail was lacking on both the timing of the planned abolition of the packs, and on what vendors and agents are supposed to do in the meantime, which some critics fear will prompt a breach of the HIPs regulation, with properties being marketed without HIPs in place.

Spicerhaart chief executive Paul Smith says: "We're now in limbo land. Do we sell HIPs until the law is changed, or don't we? We need a clear timetable for action and a period of transition to change all our software systems and paperwork.

"As usual, we're the ones footing the bill for this ill-thought-out mess."

The coalition agreement has been published ahead of an announcement about the appointment of a new housing minister.

And there is no indication whether Grant Shapps and Sarah Teather, Conservative and Liberal Democrat shadow housing ministers respectively, were sole contenders for the position.

Meanwhile, Mike Ockenden, director general of the Association of Home Information Pack Providers, refuses to believe that the statement sounds the death knell for HIPs.

He says: "There's nothing there that says the party is not going to consult on HIPs, which was the commitment that was given in the first place by Shapps.

"So this doesn't mean that if HIPs are scrapped there isn't a next stage of reform to be introduced."

He adds: "We're not rolling on our backs and saying ‘HIPS are gone, oh dear, woe is us.' There's a still a proper conversation to have with this new administration and we look forward to having that."

Ockenden claims that 3,000 jobs are under threat directly, and by extension up to another 10,000, if HIPs are scrapped.


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