A GOVERNMENT decision extend the controversial Home Information Packs to those selling three-bedroom houses has been branded a stealth tax on selling property.

From yesterday anyone selling a property with three or more bedrooms will have to compile one of the packs, introduced in an attempt to speed up the house buying process.

Opponents of HIPs say that the Government could face a backlash, while some claim that there has been a drop in the number of four-bedroom homes coming on to the market since the packs were introduced for them on August 1.

Property lawyer Michael White said: "Now the Government has extended HIPS to three-bedroom properties I expect there to be a huge public backlash. The Government is introducing a stealth tax, effectively charging people to find out the value of their own home."

But government officials believe that the introduction of HIPs has already reduced costs and improved transparency in the market.

A spokesman said: "It is a ridiculous to present normal patterns in the housing market as being linked to HIPs. The notion that people are making major life decisions on the basis of the £300 cost of a pack - less than 0.1 per cent of the price of an average four-bedroom home, and far less than estate agent fees - is simply ludicrous."