Consumer Confidence Guaranteed by April HIP Changes, says CoPSO

CoPSO represents private property search providers who offer a wide range of search reports for homebuyers and sellers, including those required for a HIP.

Today sees a number of headline changes to HIPs, including the introduction of the new Property Information Questionnaire and first-day marketing arrangements. But, more importantly, the day will also see the key “under the bonnet” changes to the way in which HIP information is gathered.

CoPSO says that the ending of transitional insurance provisions will mean that property search companies will no longer use insurance to cover instances when local authorities have not provided access to information. Customers will now have peace of mind that if information is not included in HIP searches, then it is not available. In those cases where official searches yield information previously described as unavailable, then CoPSO will consider legal action to ensure that that information is made available to customers, to allow them to access information whatever means is used for HIP searches.

Ahead of the changes, CoPSO published guidance to its members advising that they must make every effort to obtain property records held by the local authority or competent authority, regardless of cost or difficulty in accessing. That guidance urged them to eliminate the phrase “information not available” from their search reports and to replace it with “no answer” as a matter of last resort. The only time this phrase will now be used is where the property record does not exist or is not available under any circumstances.

Commenting, CoPSO Head of Communications Kate Nicholls says: “These changes mean that consumers can be more confident that ever that their HIP contains the fullest and most up-to-date information that’s available. At this crucial time for the property market, and just at the point when we’re might just be seeing the first ‘green shoots’ of recovery, it’s absolutely essential that transactions are both wholly transparent and that buyers and sellers have complete confidence in them.

“Our industry has fulfilled its side of the bargain. Our members will obtain information regardless of the time and cost involved. Now it’s up to local authorities to hold up their end of the deal and make sure they’re playing their part in guaranteeing the integrity of HIPs. If CoPSO finds that there is information in official searches than our members cannot get to, then will use that as evidence as obstruction of access and, if appropriate, consider legal action.”