<acronym title="Home Information Pack">HIP</acronym>s - <acronym title="Office of Fair Trading">OFT</acronym> advises estate agents on their obligations

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The OFT has today advised all estate agents in England and Wales that a failure to comply with the new Home Information Packs (HIPs) regulations could result in a ban from estate agency work.

From 1 August 2007, all homes for sale with four or more bedrooms in England and Wales will need a HIP with details of the property title, energy performance, planning permissions and searches for prospective buyers. Under the Estate Agents Act and HIPs regulations, the OFT has the power to assess whether an estate agent is fit to practise.

The OFT can impose a ban on an estate agent found to be in breach of the Act and can also issue a Warning Order. Once a Warning Order has been issued, if the agent continues to breach the Act, the OFT can make a Prohibition Order banning the agent from practising as an estate agent in the future.

Mike Haley, OFT Head of Consumer Protection said: "The new HIPs come into force tomorrow and it is important that agents are aware of their obligations and the possible consequences if they fail to comply. If an agent fails to comply, this could trigger an investigation into an agent's fitness to continue estate agency work".


1. The OFT enforces the Estate Agents Act 1979 and regulations, including the Estate Agents (Undesirable Practices) (No.2) Order 1991, made under it ('the Act'). Where an estate agent breaches certain laws including provisions of the Act or has been convicted of certain criminal offences he can be banned by the OFT from doing estate agency work if we consider him unfit to carry on such work. The OFT can also issue a Warning Order against an agent who has breached certain provisions of the Act, where such a breach is not serious enough to cause him to be prohibited but if repeated would be.

2. A failure to comply with the HIPs regulations by an estate agent will be an 'undesirable practice' and hence a 'trigger' for the OFT to consider the agent's fitness to continue doing estate agency work.

3. The Act covers anyone who, in the course of business, is engaged in 'estate agency work'. This means introducing to someone else a person who wishes to buy or sell land or property, and being involved in negotiating the subsequent deal. The work must be in the course of business, whether as employer or employee, and as a result of instructions from a client. The land or property may be commercial, industrial, agricultural or residential.

4. As of tomorrow, sellers of four or more bedroomed homes will be required to provide potential buyers with a HIP, including an Energy Performance Certificate. HIPs for smaller properties will be required from a later date yet to be decided.

5. Information on HIPs for Estate Agents can be found on the Department of Communities and Local Government website.