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HIPs – some updates to the law

Posted by Mark Harrison on March 12, 2009

In about three weeks time, some minor changes will apply to the way that Housing Information Packs (HIPs) work. If you are thinking of selling any property next month, then you should be aware of these changes now, since you may need to take action before the 6th April!

As I reported at the time, HIPs were introduced about 16 months ago, supposedly to make the process of selling a house easier. I think that the jury is still out on whether it has worked, but it has led to a nice little hidden extra tax, and it’s certainly been good for the association of housing pack providers 🙂
Anyway, the rules changed as of last week – the changes were announced back in December, and come into force on the 6th April.

Up till now, you could market a property, provided you had applied for a HIP. You then had a grace period of 28 days to get the HIP together (and with the exception of water companies, things pretty much worked.)

As of next month, however, the grace period disappears. You have to have a complete HIP before you start marketing the property. That means you have to apply for the HIP and get all the information back, before you can even put a ‘for sale’ piece of card in a window, or place a free ad in a newspaper… let alone instruct an estate agent.

There are some other changes, which to quote from the government press release, mean that extra information about the following is required:

[…] include flood risk information, gas and electricity safety, service charges, structural damage and parking arrangements […]

I’m broadly in favour of the “extra info” changes, but enforcing a wait for HIP providers to get all the information they need back? About the only possible reason to be pleased with that is if you want to see house prices decline further!

Of course, from a purely selfish perspective, because I intend to be a net buyer, I do want to see house prices carry on going down (and my reading of the economics tells me they will)… but extra legislation to suppress a market further in the middle of what is looking like the biggest recession since the 1929 one??? Please?


4 Responses to “HIPs – some updates to the law”

  1. Richard Large said

    Corrections to this article:

    They are called Home Information Packs, not Housing Information Packs.

    A “complete” HIP (ie one containing all the statutorily “required” documents, is NOT needed to allow marketing to commence. The only items that are required to allow marketing to commence are:
    HIP index (obviously a generic document)
    Property Information Questionnaire (PIQ)completed by or on behalf of the seller
    Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) or, for a home under construction, a predicted energy assessment.
    Sale statement setting out what is being sold & by whom.
    Title evidence & plan from the Land Registry, or if unregistered, a search report of the Land Registry index map.

    This is contained in Regulation 14 (as amended) of the HIP Regulations (2) 2007.

    No local authority or water/drainage searaches are required in the HIP at the first point of marketing. They must be ordered before, & included in the HIP, within 28 days of the first point of marketing; if they are not available within the 28 day period the responsible person must continue to use “all reasonable efforts” to obtain them.

    The only requirement to “include flood risk information, gas and electricity safety, service charges, structural damage and parking arrangements” is through the responses to the questions in the PIQ, completed by the homeowner; there is no requirement to include an environmental search, survey or other such information outside the PIQ.

    In the vast majority of cases, it will be possible to obtain all the HIP information required at first point of marketing within 3 working days, often more quickly. Anyone who says otherwise is using an inefficient or incompetent HIP compiler.

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