Sellers' Packs: Enter the HIP to a barrage of criticism

Home information packs (HIPs) came into force last week in England and Wales – initially only for properties with four or more bedrooms.

The sellers' packs, designed to speed up the housing chain, contain key details about a property, including title deeds, local searches and an energy performance certificate.

The original launch date for the scheme was 1 June, but this was put back because there were too few qualified inspectors to produce the "green" certificates. The packs also faced a legal challenge from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Although the initial rollout is limited to properties of a certain size, the Government plans to extend the scheme to all homes that are put on the market.

Critics have rounded on HIPs, citing a shortage of inspectors and the risk that information in the packs could go out of date. They also argue that the packs bring little benefit to consumers, and could have an adverse effect on the property market.

But housing minister Yvette Cooper (pictured) insists that housebuying will be faster with the packs – due to the requirement for information from the vendor at the outset. She said the energy performance certificates in the packs would also play a role in tackling climate change.

Mike Ockenden, from the Association of Home Information Pack Providers (AHIPP), said: "HIPs are finally here and should be welcomed by consumers, environmentalists and the industry alike."

Last Tuesday, the Office of Fair Trading warned estate agents that they could be put out of business if they fail to comply with HIP rules.

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