The power of the much maligned home information packs (HIPs) are to be strengthened in the new year with the requirement that they are provided as soon as a property goes on sale and with additional information.
Currently sellers have a 28-day grace period when putting a property on the market before they have to provide a HIP. From 6 April 2009, however, this ‘first day marketing’ exemption will be removed for all but the most complex parts of the pack, such as property searches.
From 5 April a Property Information Questionnaire will also be required which will contain information including flood risk, gas and electricity safety, service charges, structural damage, parking arrangements and a summary of the leasehold. Provision of a copy of the lease will also become a requirement where currently it is only an option.
"These measures are a logical extension of the government's thinking behind HIPs,” says property solicitor David Briffa (right) of London law firm Child & Child. “Having lived with them for a year or more now, I, along with 99.99% of conveyancing lawyers and estate agents, fail to see that they offer any real benefits and cannot understand why they have to be compulsory. If they are such a good idea, why not make them voluntary and see if the marketplace agrees?"
"Over the years some government initiatives have been very unpopular at first, only for them later to be generally accepted as sensible measures. Examples would include seatbelt-wearing in cars and smoking bans in pubs. I do not believe that the general public will ever come round to thinking that compulsory HIPs were a good idea."