Estate agents who dodge HIPs could be banned

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The Office of Fair Trading has warned that estate agents who fail to comply with new Home Information Pack (HIPs) regulations could be banned from working.

On the eve of the introduction of HIPs, it said failure to comply with the regulations would be classed as an 'undesirable practice' , triggering the OFT to consider the agent's fitness to continue doing estate agency work.

From tomorrow, 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, Office of Fair Trading 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.'


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