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Failure to offer seller&#39s pack will not be a criminal offence

The Government has ditched controversial plans to impose criminal sanctions on homeowners who sell their property without a seller&#39s pack after succumbing to industry pressure.

In the new Housing Bill, published this week, the measure to criminally punish non-compliant homeowners has been dropped in favour of civil sanctions, likely to take the form of a fine.

Previously, homeowners selling without a pack – now called a home information pack – could face sanctions equivalent to those for minor criminal offenses.

The National Association of Estate Agents says the packs could still spell disaster for the housing market, claiming that they have been poorly researched and place a restrictive cost of around £600 on sellers. It fears this will deter speculative homeowners from putting their property on the market.

Mortgage brokers believe lenders will not accept the packs&#39 home condition report – a survey carried out by the seller, creating the need for two surveys.

Housing minister Lord Rooker says: “We have a ridiculous system where key information is not available until after terms and conditions have been agreed. We are going to put this right.”

London & Country mortgage specialist David Hollingworth says: “The initial cost will put people off selling their house and the doubling up on surveys is another problem. Nothing much has changed from the original proposals.”

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