UK Home Information Packs

Homeowners are Legally Required to Have an HIP on Houses For Sale
Love them or hate them; Home Information Packs, or HIPS, are now a legal requirement when selling any house in the United Kingdom says Greg Maloney, owner of
HIPs were first introduced in 2007 when it became compulsory for houses with four or more bedrooms to have the packs carried out before it could be marketed for sale. You can read more about it here.
A month later it became compulsory for all properties to be subjected to a HIP before being put on the open market. The British Government hoped the scheme would mean more information was readily available to prospective purchasers, therefore speeding up the buying process.
The Home Information Pack also contains details of the Energy Performance Certificate, or EPC, of a property. This report looks at the property’s energy use, carbon dioxide emissions and provides recommendations as to how these can be reduced.
The HIP also contains local and drainage searches, proof of ownership, and a copy of any leases if the property is leasehold.
Fines for Ignoring Legal Requirement
A property information questionnaire is also now required when selling a house. Introduced in April, 2009, it provides information about the property’s history in relation to matters such as flooding and insurance claims.
A HIP is not needed if a property is sold through a private arrangement or under the “Right to Buy” provisions.
Commercial premises are exempt from the legal requirement to have a Home Information Pack, although an Energy Performance Certificate is still needed. If no such certification is completed, the Local Authority may fine the owners 12.5% of the property’s rateable value, with a minimum fine of £500 and a maximum fine of £5,000.
Owners of residential property on the market without a HIP will receive a penalty of £200. Repeat offenders will find legal action is taken through the courts.
The Cost of HIPs
When looking for a company to produce a HIP, homeowners can either contact specialist providers or estate agents. It can cost anything between £200 and £600 for one to be completed and sellers can even compile their own. However they must pay for an energy performance assessment.
The need to have an inspection carried out by a qualified Domestic Energy Assessor is the biggest stalling point in getting a pack compiled. The failure to have enough assessors ready by June 1 2007, has been blamed by the Government for the delay.
Opposition to HIPs
There has been much criticism of HIPs as the searches included in the Home Information Packs may be too old to rely on by the time a sale has gone through. This means the buyer may well still end up paying for their own searches anyway.
Despite the opposition to the packs, HIPs are now a fact of life for those wanting to market and sell their property in the traditional way.