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The Home Information Pack (HIPs):

Before reading this section please read the *News Update at the foot of this page.
The legal status of HIPs has changed as of 20th May 2010.

Although Gas work must be certificated under Gas Safe and electrical work must be according to Part "P" both as a legal requirement, neither are a direct part of the HIPs, but both gas and electrical alterations are examined closely by the buyers solicitors and questions asked when selling or purchasing a house, so they cannot be compromised at all costs.

Problems will be encountered when trying to sell a property which has had notifiable gas and electrical work carried out, but for which the appropriate certificate cannot be produced. You could be liable for prosecution and your house sale would be at risk.

Although HIPs are hated by sellers, buyers, estate agents, surveyors and solicitors alike, we have include the following, to try and explain the muddle created by the governments rules.

The Home Information Pack is compulsory in all homes from 14th December 2007. Housing Minister Yvette Cooper said that the extension of the scheme to one and two bedroom properties would help first time buyers. HIPs came into force in England and Wales for homes with four or more bedrooms on August 1st and three bedrooms properties on the 10th September 2007.

From the 6th April 2009, sellers will unable to put their homes on to the market before they have a completed HIP. Owners may also be sued for providing inaccurate information, even if the prospective buyer backs out and doesn′t go ahead with the sale.

Additional to this, sellers will now also have to fill in a Property Information Questionnaire (PIQ). This will include whether there is a damp proof course or a history of flooding.

As the PIQ is intended to give the prospective buyer enough information to take preliminary steps towards purchase, anyone who incurs expenses relying on inaccurate information could claim for damages including out of pocket expenses against the seller.

Local councils have been instructed to ′identify specific cases of non-compliance and enforce the compliances′. A £200 fine - which goes direct to council coffers - will be imposed for any breaches.

A completed Home Information Pack, is most likely to contain the following:

    Index of Contents, this must go at the front of the pack.

    Sale Statement. this details a description of your home along with any fixtures and fittings going with it, this will also include the sale price.

    An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This rates the energy consumption of your home.It looks at loft and cavity insulation, heat loss through windows and doors and the efficiency of the central heating system. It will give your home an energy efficiency rating and also suggests ways it can be improved.

    Standard Searches. from the local council, to cover existing or planned roads, any planning permissions which effect the property and sewage details.

    Title Deeds. these are available from the Land Registry and shows the overall area of the property, who owns it, details of mortgage and any other charges set against it, any restrictions or covenants and rights of way.

    Any additional information for Leasehold and Commonhold sales where appropiate, if the property is not freehold.

This pack can cost upto £500, but cheaper offers are around if you carry out some research first,
A small amount of estate agents are offering the pack free if you use their services, but in general if the agent does charge, they will charge higher rates than if you were to purchase the pack direct from an independent HIP provider.

Remember, although an estate agent might try and inform you otherwise, there is no law as to where your HIP comes from, as long as they are approved, so save money and go out and find your own.

For the best price direct, using a local HIPs provider, we suggest you search Google, by typing in ′cheap HIP′s (with your town name)′.

Optional Documents in the HIP may include:

    Home Condition Report (HCR) - This was once designed as a compulsory part of HIPs, but for the present time has now been changed to optional.
    The Home Condition Report will now be provided on a voluntary basis, this can include an environmental or flood risk search and other information that would be of interest to the potential buyer, including any gas safety and electrical "Part P" certificates. As defined in the regulations, these will be allowed to be included as an ′authorised′ document.

    It could be very useful in attaching this paperwork as there is a very strong chance that it would help in selling the property.

    • Legal summary,

    • Home use/contents forms,

    • Other relevant documents,

    • Where appropriate, additional information on leasehold and common hold sales.

Important notes on HIPs:

From 1st May 2008, it is compulsory for every new home in England to have a rating against the Code for Sustainable Homes and for information on this rating to be provided to prospective purchasers through the HIP.

As from the 1st October 2008, a letting agent, managing agent or landlord must produce HIP details when marketing the property being offered for rent.

From the 6th April 2009, before marketing your property, you must purchase a HIP pack, this document must be purchased first, you cannot place your property on the market whilst the HIP is being formed.

*News Update:

As of 20th May 2010, Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, and Grant Shapps, the housing minister, for the new Conservatives and Liberal Democrats coalition Government have stated that the HIPs is to be scrapped from midnight tomorrow the 21st May 2010. Estate agents were celebrating the Government's decision to axe the controversial packs just days after they came to power.

However, the announcement will mean that thousands of people who trained as home inspectors and rely on the packs for their income could lose their jobs. There are between 3,000 and 10,000 people whose livelihoods depend on Hips, according to the Association of Home Information Pack Providers. Many of these home inspectors have paid upto £10,000 of their own funds to attend the original courses to obtain their qualifications - which is now wasted.

Since Dececember 2007, every homeowner in England and Wales who wanted to sell their property, has had to paid an average of £500 including VAT for a HIP. Homeowners have wasted around £1billion. Although around 2.7million people were forced to pay for a HIP, in reality, few buyers ever even bothered to look at it.

Sellers will still be required to get an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), showing how energy efficient a property is, within 28 days of putting their home on the market, as this is a requirement under EU law.
The cost of these starts around £34, but is typically around £60.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) This rates the energy consumption of your home. It looks at loft and cavity insulation, heat loss through windows and doors and the efficiency of the central heating system. It will give your home an energy efficiency rating and also suggests ways it can be improved.

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