Minister for housing and planning Yvette Cooper today announced that the controversial home condition report would not be a compulsory component of home information packs as originally planned

The unexpected move has provoked consternation among HIPs' biggest supporters, who claim the government’s U-turn to make home condition reports voluntary will undermine the success of the entire initiative, which comes into effect next June.

The U-turn means house sellers will no longer be obliged to conduct a basic building survey on their property before it is put on the market.

Vendors will still have to provide evidence of title, relevant warranties and guarantees for fixtures and fittings, copies of planning consents and building control certificates, as well as lease documents if the property is leasehold.

Paul Smith, chief executive of estate agency Spicerhaart and a member of the Association of Home Information Pack Providers, said: ‘Making the home condition report voluntary is a complete cop-out.

‘It diminishes one of the main objectives that the HIP sets out to achieve – reducing the number of failed transactions by improving transparency.

‘The government has been once again completely ineffectual, bowing down to unsubstantiated and incorrect anti-HIP campaigns.’

But not everyone was convinced that HIPs would deliver the perfect housing market they promised. Philip Davies, chief executive of Linden Homes, is one of many anti-HIP campaigners who are delighted with the news.

‘Finally the government has accepted that the introduction of [the] home condition report on a mandatory basis next June would have crippled the housing market and led to a shortage of supply, fuelling an increase in selling prices,’ he said.

‘There is little benefit in transferring the expense of the legal searches from the buyer to the seller, so the government should simply get on with introducing the energy performance certificate under the European Directive, and consign the rest of the HIP fiasco to the scrap heap.’