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OFT warns estate agents to comply with HIPs

The Office of Fair Trading has warned estate agents that a failure to comply with the new Home Information Packs regulations could result in a ban from estate agency work.

From August 1 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.

OFT head of consumer protection Mike Haley says: ‘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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