The Council for the National Land Information Service (C-NLIS) is concerned that the range and accuracy of property search information contained in Home Information Packs (HIPs) may not be enough for the home buyer to make a fully informed choice.

As the property market approaches 100 days since the launch of the 3-bed home information pack and moves towards the full roll out of the packs today (14th December) C-NLIS CEO Alex Fraser said “Our interest is in the property search element of the HIP. Searches contain vital information about a property which may effect the buyer's decision to proceed with purchase. Most home information pack providers choose their searches on price grounds, this can affect the quality and depth of the information provided, which cannot be in the best interests of the home buyer.”

In a recent poll C-NLIS asked industry experts for their views on the accuracy and quality of search data, Peter Rodd, conveyancing partner at Boys & Maughan commented “We have concerns as to the accuracy of some of the information contained in personal searches. Some personal search providers limit planning history to 10 years whereas official searches direct from Local Authority go back much further.”

Paul Marsh, the Law Society's vice-president also raised concerns “I have seen a personal search where the question regarding building control approval was answered until such time as the Council allow us to access the records we are not able to answer the enquiry, therefore enquiry covered by insurance. That was not true, because the council in question did make the information available, but the personal searcher had to pay for access to the information. The search company avoided making a payment by exploiting the transitional regulations. The seller was left with a HIP that did not comply with the regulations and the buyer, with a useless search.”

Amanda Renshaw, chair of the Local Land Charges Institute commented that because the HIP is cost-driven and not information-driven, local authorities now spend a far greater amount of time answering enquiries from purchasers‚ solicitors who have received a HIP with a personal search in it and need to have the personal search information checked and clarified. “We are seeing an ever-increasing number of personal searches which contain wholly inaccurate information,” says Amanda Renshaw.