Home Information Packs
Love them or loathe them, Home Information Packs (HIPs) are now part and parcel of the property market in England and Wales. The Government's aim when it introduced HIPs was to make the process of buying and selling a home faster, simpler and easier to understand.
At the moment, 25 per cent of property transactions collapse before contracts are exchanged, wasting time and money. HIPs include essential information about properties and are given to potential buyers free of charge, so the chance of nasty surprises later on in the buying process is reduced. The Government believes this will result in a fall in the number of transactions that collapse.
For those interested in buying an investment property, HIPs have to be seen as a bonus. The cost is met by the seller, and each pack must contain:
- Sale statement.
- Evidence of title.
- Standard searches.
- Energy Performance Certificate.
- HIP index.
- Information for leasehold and commonhold sales, where needed.
The sale statement should provide basic information about the property, including the address, whether it is registered or unregistered, freehold, leasehold or commonhold, and when the present occupants will move out.
Proof that the seller owns the property and has the right to sell it is contained in the evidence of title, while standard searches will explain the provision of drainage and water services to the property, disclose planning decisions and road building proposals relevant to buyers and list any charges detailed on the local land charges register.
The Energy Performance Certificate rates how energy efficient the property is on a scale of A-G. The most efficient homes are in band A and should have the lowest fuel bills. The same scale is used to show the property's impact on the environment, with better-rated homes likely to have less impact through carbon dioxide emissions. The average UK property is in bands D-E for both ratings, and the certificate includes recommendations on ways to improve energy efficiency.
A copy of the lease is included in HIPs if the property for sale is leasehold, and if it's commonhold, the individual register and title plan for the common parts is needed, as is the commonhold community statement. All the documents in the pack will be listed in the index.
Although sellers are not obliged to include any other documents, packs may include:
- Legal summary
- Home Condition Report
- Home use and contents forms
- Non-standard searches
A legal summary can make the more complex documents in the pack easier to understand, while a Home Condition Report has to be carried out by a qualified home inspector and can be relied on legally as an accurate report of the physical condition of the property.
Fixtures and fittings and other contents that are included in the sale can be listed in the home use and home contents forms, which may also contain information on boundaries, services, notices, planning permissions and sharing with neighbours. Non-standard searches can include a coal mining search, actual or potential environmental hazards such as contaminated land and flooding, rights of way and ground stability. Sellers may also include warranties and guarantees for work carried out on their homes.