New Rules for Home Information Packs

"Expensive waste of time” or welcome clarity in a difficult market?

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Further rigorous regulations were introduced for the much-maligned Home Information Packs (HIPs) this week.

The new rules, which took effect on April 6th, mean that home owners now have to have a Home Information Pack ready before they put their property up for sale. In the past, vendors only had to order a HIP before putting their property on the market. Sellers also now need to put more details into the pack, including the council tax band of the property.

There have been criticisms of HIPs, with some claiming they are an “expensive waste of time”. However, the Government says the changes give buyers in England and Wales (where HIPs apply) more clarity, and they welcome them.

Mike Ockenden, director general of the Association of HIP Providers, told property website Hot, “HIPs provide buyers with a great deal of important information that should be taken into consideration before making an offer, from the home's energy efficiency to local search information.”

Mr Ockenden also said that the new Property Information Questionnaire (PIQ) would give vital information to buyers in their search for a new home. It includes details on parking arrangements, utilities, any structural changes and the property’s council tax band.

Fines for people who put a property up for sale without a HIP and PIQ could start at £200 for estate agents or private sellers.

Many estate agents remain unhappy with HIPs, and say the new rules will make things worse. Chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), Peter Bolton King, said, “An expensive waste of time is counterproductive at the best of times, but in a housing slump HIPs are downright damaging.” He said the scheme had been a costly failure and added an unnecessary burden to vendors.

April 16, 2009