It was confirmed last week that the Home Information Pack (Hip) scheme will be extended to three-bedroom homes, amid further criticism of the programme.

The communities department announced that the controversial system would be extended to three-bedroom houses on 10 September. Four-bedroom houses have been sold with Hips since 1 August.

The rollout means 60% of the housing stock will be covered by the scheme. Only 17% was covered when Hips were limited to four-bedroom houses. Hips are expected to be extended again to smaller properties by the end of the year.

The RICS said the government was acting hastily. A spokesperson said: “The government has no idea how this will affect the housing market. It is yet to publish the findings from last year’s flawed ‘dry run’ exercise, where the packs were handed out for free. Perhaps the results were not to its liking.”

The government has no idea how this will affect the housing market

RICS spokesperson

Meanwhile, the National Audit Office (NAO) published a report damning the introduction of Hips and accusing the communities department of using consultants with a “potential conflict of interest” in planning the scheme.

The NAO report states: ”On 25 May 2006 RICS raised the department’s attention to a potential conflict of interest. The directors of PIR [Christopher Legrand and Richard Theobald] developing the certification scheme continued to retain a financial interest in NES, the parent of SAVA, a company seeking approval to run a certification scheme.”