A great deal of media attention has been devoted to the failings of Home Information Packs (HIPs), often at the expense of useful guidance as to what they actually involve. To help explain what they mean to homeowners. TakeLegalAdvice.com asks conveyancing solicitor Will Stisted, of Anderson Longmore & Higham to explain.
What does a HIP involve?
A HIP includes documents that are required when homes are bought and sold. Some documents are mandatory and others optional.
The mandatory documents are:
- An index (i.e. a list of the contents of the HIP)
- A sale statement (summarising the terms of sale)
- Evidence of title
- Standard searches (i.e. local authority enquiries and a drainage and water search)
- An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
- Commonhold information (where appropriate)
- A copy of the lease (where appropriate)
Documents that are optional include:
- A Home Condition Report (HCR)
- Additional leasehold, information
- Guarantees and warranties
- Other searches relevant to the particular area
Sellers have to provide a HIP within 14 days of a request from a buyer.
Why use a conveyancing solicitor to arrange a HIP?
Using a pack supplied by a conveyancing solicitor provides peace of mind. Birmingham Trading Standards recently reported that over 80 per cent of the HIPs that they inspected in local estate agents contained mistake or omissions.
A HIP from a conveyancing solicitor also allows the seller to share or transfer the property between estate agents if necessary. A HIP supplied by an estate agent is often branded and may not be acceptable to other agents.
The ‘diluted’ HIP that we currently have is a waste of time and money. At a time when the housing market has slowed so dramatically, the additional hurdle that HIP represents is particularly unwelcome.
Why have HIPs received such bad press?
The HIP was also originally to contain a Home Condition Report. Without this report, the only documents that are of any real use to a prospective buyer are the title information documents and the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). All the documentation, other than the EPC, would have been provided by the seller’s conveyancing solicitor at the outset of a transaction anyway.
Furthermore, although the HIP remains valid while the property is on the market, aspects of it, such as the Local Search, are considered to be out of date very quickly. The formula for production of EPCs is also open to too much personal interpretation by providers, there is not the necessary conformity.
Is there anything else that buyers and sellers should be aware of?
The required contents of a basic HIP are unlikely to make any real difference to a prospective buyer. In order to make the pack more useful, the seller is often well advised to spend a little extra money and provide a full local search rather than using personal searches.
Click here to read 'Using a conveyancing solicitor'
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