Clause 145 — Home Condition Reports

Part of Orders of the Day — Housing Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:50 pm on 8th November 2004.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Keith Hill Keith Hill Minister of State (Housing and Planning), Office of the Deputy Prime Minister 7:50 pm, 8th November 2004

It may be for the benefit of the House if I explain that amendments Nos. 123 to 127, 129, 131 to 134, 136, 138, 139, 141, 146, 150 and 260 are technical amendments that clarify or remove ambiguities or repetition in the Bill, and improve the definition of the word "marketing". Amendments Nos. 142, 145, 147, 148 and 149 would make provision for an estate agents redress scheme. I do not propose to dwell on those amendments at great length, as there seems to be a high level of agreement about the proposals in them—although I shall, of course, be happy to return to them if they are raised by other speakers.

Amendments (a) to (d) in lieu of Lords amendment No. 140 would ensure that adequate safeguards are placed on the register of home condition reports. If the House will forgive me, I shall say a few words about those, because this is new matter for this Chamber.

It will be vital for the public to have confidence in the new home condition reports, and a register for home condition reports will help to ensure that. The register will prevent unscrupulous people from tampering with home condition reports once written, because paper copies can be compared with the register. The register will also ensure that the home condition report can be prepared only by a member of the certification scheme. Someone fraudulently passing himself off as a home inspector —or, indeed, a former home inspector who has been expelled from the scheme—will be unable to register a home condition report.

To guard against the possibility of a seller "shopping around" and obtaining a number of home condition reports from different home inspectors, we propose that the home information pack include copies of all home condition reports obtained on the property within the previous 12 months. The register would ensure that that requirement could be enforced. It would be an important resource to help the certification schemes ensure the competence and probity of home inspectors, and that the inspectors were properly insured. Taken together with the checks and balances already in the Bill, this should enable buyers and sellers to rely with confidence on home condition reports.