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.

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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 is precisely because I anticipated that the hon. Gentleman—whom I know well, and with whom I have jousted on many previous occasions—would take an interest in these matters that my speech includes what I hope will prove persuasive answers to those issues.

Dealing with these important issues administratively when approving a certification scheme involves doing so behind closed doors, but we feel that it is in everyone's interest that they be dealt with openly and on the record through regulations. The amendment should ensure that the register is kept in a proper way, while respecting privacy considerations. An electronic register of home inspectors and of home condition report data is essential to ensure authenticity and trust. I should emphasise that access to the register will not be a free-for-all and will be strictly controlled.

We envisage that access will be available to the seller and potential buyers, and to their professional advisers and agents, so that they can, for example, check the integrity of copies of home condition reports supplied to them. We also intend to enable access to certification schemes in order to assist with their operation, and to ensure that proper standards are maintained. We envisage that certification schemes will use the register of home condition reports to monitor, or to undertake, spot checks on the work of home inspectors to ensure that they maintain the required standards.

Allowing mortgage lenders online access to the register of home condition reports will assist with valuation assessments and help to avoid unnecessary valuation inspections. It will enhance the efficient operation of the home buying and selling process, and reduce costs for home buyers. We continue to work with the Council of Mortgage Lenders and other stakeholders to ensure that lenders can use the home condition report as a source of information from which a valuation can be derived, without the need for a separate valuation inspection.