What is a home information pack and how is this used in the sale of a house?

What was the position before home information packs?

(nb: In May 2010 the new Liberal-Conservative Government made a decision to scrap Home Information Packs – known as Hips – with immediate effect.  This article is therefore for information purposes only.)

When attempting to buy a property potential buyers had to make a formal offer before they would be provided with certain information about a property. Now due to the introduction of Home Information Packs this issue is a thing of the past as certain information must be provided as soon as the house is put up for sale.

Advantages for buyers

Since the introduction of home information packs the provision of certain information is compulsory for anyone marketing a home for sale. This means that the process is much less stressful for potential buyers as they will be provided with all the information prior to making an offer.

Advantages for sellers

Selling a home can be equally as stressful as buying a home and prior to the introduction of home information packs this was made all the more stressful due to many potential deals falling through due to certain information only coming to light once a formal offer had been made.

Home Information Packs therefore reduce the costly inefficiency making home selling much simpler whether the seller chooses to sell privately or through an estate agent.

Home Information Packs

What is a Home Information Pack?

A Home Information Pack or HIP will contain essential information about the property which is being sold in England and Wales. This must be made available, free of charge, to those people who are interested in buying the property.

Do I have to get a third party to draw up the Home Information Pack?

You can draw up a home information pack yourself or you can get your estate agent or your solicitor to draw one up for you. However, you must ensure that it contains the following essential information.

What information must be included in a home information pack?

The following information must be included in a home information pack:

  • An energy performance certificate – this will provide details on how energy efficient your property is

  • A sale settlement – this will provide all the basic information about the property and will include such details as whether it is a freehold, leasehold or common hold and whether it is being sold with vacant possession

  • The provision of drainage and water services to the property

  • A property information questionnaire – this will be completed by the person who is selling the property and must provide a summary of information about the property. The property information questionnaire will include questions on gas and electricity safety, structural damage and parking.

  • Evidence that you own the property

For leasehold properties the following further information must be included:

  • A copy of the lease

  • Regulations made by the landlord or management company

  • The most recent service charge accounts and receipts

  • Building insurance policy details and payment receipts

  • Memorandum and articles of the landlord or management company

There will also be further questions in the property information questionnaire surrounding services charges and ground rent

Are there any properties whereby it is not necessary to produce a home information pack when they are sold?

A home information pack is not needed for sales of the following kinds of property:

  • Properties in Scotland and Northern Ireland

  • Private arrangements where the property is not offered on the open market – this can include situations where the property is sold to a family member, neighbour or friend

  • Properties sold with sitting tenants and not available for owner occupation

  • Portfolios of residential property

  • Right to Buy sales by local authorities or other social landlords

  • Mixed commercial and residential properties

  •  Properties with lease of 21 years or less left to run

  • Properties sold for seasonal and holiday accommodation

  • Properties sold for demolition or redevelopment

nb: The new Liberal-Conservative Government has made a decision to scrap Home Information Packs – known as Hips – with immediate effect.  This article is therefore for information purposes only.
Article written by...
Lucy Trevelyan LLB
Lucy Trevelyan LLB

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Lucy graduated in law from the University of Greenwich, and is also an NCTJ trained journalist. A legal writer and editor with over 20 years' experience writing about the law.