Local authority searches are crucial components of Home Information Packs (HIPs) which have become mandatory for all residential property put up for sale from December 2007. Since their introduction, concern is now being expressed within the organisations who has the responsibility of retrieving searches from local authorities. Prior to its launch, the National Association of Estate Agents and others spoke up, highlighting the practical issues that would result.
With more properties requiring HIPs and the number of searches steadily increasing weekly, providers of HIPs are seeing more restrictions and delays. A review of the way local authority’s searches are handled is now needed in an effort to speed up the property buying process.
Providers of HIPs have claimed some institutions were making life difficult for the search companies amid criticisms that some dragged their heels. Others imposed restrictions on when providers can visit the offices while others have been limited to the number of searches they are allowed to do each day.
Also emerging from data compiled is the wide variation across the country with regard to the time it takes to complete a search. The best local authorities can provide it within hours, but the worst council can take up to two weeks. Charges also range from £40 up to £280. A campaign for councils to respond to search requests within 24 hours and charges to be more uniformed is seen as the way forward.
The Government had anticipated that the packs would speed up the UK house buying and selling process. The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the ones responsible for the implementation, will have to come up with a decisive action.
Editor: Simon Weston myfirsthomeltd.co.uk
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