Home information packs will also have to be produced before homes are put on the market

Information on flooding and parking will have to be included in home information packs (Hips) under plans announced by the government today.

Additional information will have to be included on, gas and electricity safety, service charges, and structural damage, to help buyers make decisions on whether to view and purchase a property.

Speaking today, housing minister Margaret Beckett said that Hips will have to be produced before a property is marketed.

She said: "Home information packs are potentially a vital aid to consumers who are seeking to purchase a home, and I am firmly committed to ensuring they work as well as possible.

“That is why the changes made today will make sure consumers are better protected, better informed and better assisted when buying a home."

Gillian Charlesworth, director of external affairs for the RICS, welcomed the “joined-up” move by government. She said: "This is the sort of approach we have been calling for. We are pleased to note that the government is clearly listening to the responsible end of this industry and has said it will look again, both at aspects of Hips that are not working well for consumers and the need for consistent, decent standards amongst estate agents.”

The development of Hips will be informed by an Office of Fair Trading inquiry into the house selling process.