Sunday, September 09, 2007


Britain's homeowners find that their government is interested in their bedrooms:

'The men came to do the HIP - two of them - and I am still in shock," says Stanley Parr. "We were interrogated about the date of construction, our central heating and loft insulation, and whether or not we used low-energy light bulbs. They photographed everything - I was amazed."

For the 73-year-old pensioner, from Pershore, Worcestershire, the stressful ordeal of selling a house has been made even more unappealing since the arrival of Home Information Packs (HIPs), which were introduced for houses with four or more bedrooms last month.

"The whole process is extremely unnerving because strangers can now come into my home on government orders to take all these details and enter them on a national database," he says. "Burglars will have a field day if they access it, which, no doubt, they will."

Mr Parr has chosen to carry on with his sale, despite the difficulties. But many more have not. ....

Fifty-three per cent of chartered surveyors reported a drop in the number of four-bedroom houses put up for sale in August, compared with the same month last year. The average reported drop was 51 per cent - rising to 67 per cent in London and 62 per cent in the North-West.

Apparently due to the simple expedient of removing a bed from a room, and calling the room something else:

Canny sellers can avoid the packs in a number of ways.

One is to remove a bed from a bedroom to create a three-bedroom house with a study or boxroom; another is to cancel a pack after it has been ordered - a pack need only have been "ordered", not purchased, to market a property; a third is paying the £200 penalty fine if caught without one - far cheaper than a HIP, and getting caught is unlikely in any case, as trading standards officials have admitted that they don't have the resources to enforce the packs.

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