Hips or The Home Information Pack is now a statutory requirement when selling any residential property since 14th December 2007. The idea behind the packs is to make the purchasing process more simple with searches already done, the supply of an Energy Performance Certificate or EPC and a property questionnaire stating inter alia, title to the property.

The need for a Home Information Pack has come about to ease the home buying process, to introduce greater clarity and transparency as well as complying with European legislation on energy efficiency of new houses in response to climate change issues. Initial reaction and consumer feed back to the full mandatory pack since the summer of 2007 has been positive.

Home Information Pack

Hips must contain the following, which must be no more than three months old when the property is first marketed:

* Index
* Energy Performance Certificate
* Sale Statement
* Title documents for the property
* Local Authority and drainage searches

If the property is leasehold or commonhold, then the pack must also include the following:

* Copy of the lease
* Building insurance policy
* Contact details for the landlord or management and any legal details
* Regulations that apply
* Recent service charge receipts and accounts

For a transitional period sellers can market their homes without the searches or leasehold documents as long as the pack contains evidence that they have been commissioned and will be included as soon as practicable but certainly within 28 days.

The pack may also contain some or all of these authorised documents:

* Home Condition Report
* Two sellers questionnaire forms called Home Use Form and Home Contents Form
* Legal summary
* Other searches such as a mining search

What's required is that the seller now has to pay for a Home Information Pack to be done before the property is put on the market which means that apart from costing around £300, the pack needs to be produced preferably directly from a registered Home Information Pack provider. It is possible that a seller can prepare most of the pack themselves but either a Domestic Energy Assessor or a registered Home Inspector has to prepare the Energy Performance Certificate or EPC.

From October 1st 2008 every new rented property must have an EPC. These EPC's will last for ten years and must be made available to any prospective tenant prior to them renting out the property, although a landlord does not have to show an EPC to anyone if he believes that they are not able to afford the rent. An EPC by itself is expected to cost around £100.

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