Improving the home buying and selling process

Home information packs (HIPs) have been scrapped from 20 May, pending primary legislation for a permanent abolition, but sellers will still need to provide an official energy efficiency assessment of their property. Improving the home buying and selling process was a Labour manifesto pledge in 1997 and HIPs were designed to do this.


The new Conservative-Lib Dem government has said that home sellers will no longer need to provide home information packs. But due to EU law an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) will still be required. Around 2.7m homeowners paid for a HIP, which was meant to contain all the information about the property, such as local authority searches and a ‘green’ rating.

The decision to scrap HIPs should cut around £250 off selling the average home. Housing minister Grant Shapps said: ‘The new government is ensuring that HIPs are history. This is a great example of how we are determined to get straight down to work and cut pointless red tape which is strangling the market.

‘By suspending home information packs, it means that home sellers will be able to get on with marketing their home without having to shell out hundreds of pounds upfront.

‘We are committed to greener housing so from now on all that will be required will be a simple energy performance certificate.’

One of the main criticisms levelled at HIPs is that the cost put homeowners off speculatively putting their properties on the market, further reducing the number of homes for sale.

HIPs included a set of documents showing the terms of sale, evidence of title and the energy certificate among others. The latter document was considered the most important in terms of the law, due to its mandatory status under EU law.

The remaining documents, while useful, were often surplus to requirement as buyers’ solicitors insist on carrying out these searches themselves, due to their liability if things go wrong. In practice, house buyers paid little attention to the documents unless they suspected a leasehold/land problem.