Latest News On The Proposed Home Information Pack - August 2006

Home Information Packs

The UK Government has announced changes in the implementation of its Proposed Home Information Packs which will be required to be produced by the seller for every home in the UK.

It has announced plans for the introduction of Energy Performance Certificates as part of the phased introduction of the new Home Information Packs due to become mandatory in June 2007.

Home information Packs are being introduced to help consumers cut costs and waste when buying a home and to help to protect the environment.

The Government has now announced new proposals to phase the introduction of HIPs, prioritising the delivery of energy efficiency information. There will be further testing later this year on the other aspects of HIPs

HIPs will be introduced in June 2007 with searches and energy performance information, which will enable buyers and sellers to get A-G energy ratings on their homes. These will be similar to the familiar fridge ratings. The pack will also contain a list of practical measures to enable owners and prospective purchasers to cut their fuel bills and carbon emissions as well.

It is estimated that the average homeowner will save £300 a year on fuel bills. The Government also believes that the information could be used to support the growth of 'green mortgages' and other incentives.

However the Government has decided to phase the roll out of other aspects of Home Information Packs, introducing the rest of Home Condition Reports on a market-led basis in the first instance, in order to ensure a smooth implementation with clear benefits for consumers. This decision has been based on detailed consultations with industry and the latest market and testing information.

This means that the proposed Home Condition Report will no longer be a compulsory element of the HIP.

However, mandatory introduction of Home Condition Reports remains on the table, but the Government wants to encourage a market led take up first, in order to allow a more flexible roll-out that responds to consumer demand.

The Government aims to ensure that HIPs deliver the maximum benefits to consumers by looking at costs, the savings from avoiding waste and duplication, consumer attitudes to the Packs, failed transactions and transaction times, and people's willingness to sell properties with HIPs in place.

However, the latest information casts doubts on the readiness of the industry to be able to pass on the benefits to consumers from next June. There are still serious concerns about the number of home inspectors who will be in place in time.

What will now be Included in the Home Information Packs?

  • Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)
  • Searches
  • Legal Documents - which are all mandatory, and, if appropriate, a voluntary Home Condition Report which has been the most controversial element of the HIPs.
  • Area Trials - will set up in Bath, Newcastle, Southampton, Northampton, Huddersfield and Cambridge and are to start in November of 2006.

There is still a predicted shortage of both Energy Assessors and Home Inspectors but the Government now hope to have an appropriate number of assessors certificated and in place ready for the area trials. All Home Inspectors and Energy Inspectors will need to be qualified and members of an approved Certification Scheme. There will also be a separate qualification for Energy Assessors. The government are also in the process of setting up complaints schemes which all estate agents will need to belong to from next June. The intention is that from consumers will have a single point of access for all complaints affecting the buying and selling of homes.

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