News: HIPs changed on April 6th

Thu, 16 Apr 09

Reminder. The rules around Home Information Packs (HIPS) have changed - vendors will now need to get a HIP before marketing a property.

Formerly, sellers had to have ordered a HIP when they first put the property onto the market but they can make it available to agents and buyers up to 28 days later.

From April 6th, it will be compulsory to provide a HIP to buyers from the very first day of marketing a property and agents are worried that this change in legislation may impact negatively on housing supply.

The new ‘first day of marketing’ rule has come about as a result of Housing Minister Margaret Beckett saying that ‘it is essential that all buyers are able to see the HIP as early as possible to ensure that they are benefiting from the important information.’

She argues that it will not hinder the market as many agents expect as they will still be able to ‘advise potential clients about properties they expect to be coming onto the market.’ But, even giving out details that may identify a certain property may not be allowed.

The new rules may initially slow down property sales as HIPS and Energy Performance Certificates can take up to a month to be processed. HIPs cost anywhere in the region of £200 to £700.

From the same date, April 6th, sellers now need to fill out a Property Information Questionnaire (PIQ) which is a set of mandatory questions about the property.

As the PIQ is intended to give the prospective buyer enough accurate information to take preliminary steps towards the purchase of the property, a prospective buyer who incurs expenses in reliance on inaccurate information provided in a PIQ can claim for damages against the seller who completed the PIQ.

Such charges could include engaging a conveyancing lawyer, arranging finance and obtaining a valuation.

You may be excluded from needing to follow the new first day marketing rules as your property may not need a HIP.
Properties with more than 12.35 acres of land may not require a HIP if the land is or was most recently used for horticulture or cultivation, the breeding or keeping of animals and livestock, grazing or woodland.

Non-residential properties, derelict properties, property portfolios and homes bought under shared ownership schemes are also exempt from needing a HIP, but in most cases they will still require an energy performance certificate.

See also: Home Information Packs

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