Make sure your HIPs are in good shape.

Officers went into 15 estate agencies in Birmingham and asked to see the HIP for each property. They randomly selected six from the fifteen and subjected the local searches contained in the documents to detailed inspection. Trading Standards classed five out of the six as being unsatisfactory.

The HIPs falsely claimed that information was not available or answered questions with the statement 'not as far as is known' when the information was readily available from the local authority.

Commenting on the findings Paul Broadhead, deputy director general AHIPP said ‘I welcome the robust policing of the HIP regulations in Birmingham. It is not surprising given the explosion of non HIP Code registered providers recently that mistakes are being made and corners are being cut'

Home Information Packs produced under the HIP Code may only contain Searches provided by local authorities or personal search companies that subscribe to the Search code. Subscribers of both of these codes are regularly inspected and assessed by an independent body, the Property Codes Compliance Board.

Broadhead concluded ‘I am not privy to the names of these firms and would state that all members of AHIPP must subscribe to the HIP Code. This provides independent redress arrangements to consumers, estate agents, conveyancers and lenders in the event of errors or non compliance by registered firms.'