HIPs - Current Position
Home Information Packs (previously called 'Sellers' Packs') have been in the public eye for several years now. The first Home Information Packs (HIPs) were rolled out on a trial (voluntary) basis in November 2006 in Bath, Newcastle, Southampton, Northampton, Huddersfield and Cambridge. The feedback from these trials will be critical in determining the form of the final HIP.
The Secretary of State is being given the power to abandon the scheme if it proves unworkable. The original intention was to create a comprehensive document pack as including a property survey and searches. It is likely that, no matter what is dropped between now and June 2007 (when HIPs are scheduled to be launched nationally), the elements relating to energy efficiency will remain.
What follows is based on the original intentions, though how much of the original HIP information will eventually become compulsory is anyone's guess.
HIPs are not required for tenanted property where the lease is for less than 21 years. Sales of a number of properties as a block, sales of land without buildings and sales of property outside England and Wales will not be covered by the legislation.
The seller of a property will be required to provide potential purchasers on request with a copy of the HIP (or any document it contains) and also to ensure that any documents in the HIP which are shown or provided to a prospective purchaser are valid documents. The responsibility for the HIP will extend to the estate agent dealing with the marketing of the property and this responsibility will exist even where the estate agent does not market the property formally – for example, where he simply tells contacts that the property may be available for sale.
Not everyone requesting to see the HIP has a right to see it: a request may be legitimately denied in certain circumstances. These are:
- when the person requesting is thought to have insufficient means to complete the purchase;
- when it is thought that the person requesting the information is not a genuinely interested buyer; or
- when the person requesting is not someone to whom the seller would be likely to be prepared to sell.
The vendor can impose a reasonable charge for making the HIP available and can impose restrictions on the disclosure of the documents contained in the HIP or any information in it.
Persons offering a property for sale without a HIP will be liable for a fine of up to £200 per day once they become compulsory.
For the latest on HIPS, look at the Home Information Packs website.