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Goodby HIPs, Hello EPCs: a homeowners guide

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 21 May 2010 at 10:15 am

Until yesterday, home sellers had to have a Home Information Pack (HIP) in place before they could put their home on the market. HIPs have now been suspended, pending primary legislation for a permanent abolition. Before the election, the Conservative Party promised a consultation on their complete removal, but this isn't mentioned in the official announcement.

Reactions to the announcement from the Department of Communities and Local Government are varied with some saying they weeded out the serious sellers from time wasters, and others saying HIPs discouraged people from selling

The HIP was generally available at low charge, or free, via the seller's estate agent. Agents providing them free of charge normally required the seller to pay back the cost of the HIP if they took their property off the market, or instructed another agent, so some sellers chose to pay for their own HIP to avoid being “tied in” to one agent. Without the HIP in place, the cost of assembling this information will now fall on the buyer, not the seller – a return to the situation that existed before the introduction of the HIP.

From yesterday, if you intend to sell your house you no longer need to have a HIP in place, but you do need an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). To comply with the new law, you need to have instructed a Domestic Energy Assessor to prepare an EPC, and either to have paid for it, or given a clear undertaking to pay, before marketing your house.

If you are selling through an agent, he or she must be satisfied that an EPC has been commissioned before starting to market your home. Both parties must make reasonable efforts to secure an EPC within 28 days, and all of the new duties carry fixed penalties where somebody fails to comply.

Estate agents may replace their earlier offers of free or reduced price HIPs with similar offers relating to EPCs. Before choosing to take up the offer from the agent, though, sellers should consider whether they may get a better service, and possibly a cheaper price, by buying direct from a local DEA.

Another approach, if you think you may be selling your property at any time in the future, is to have an EPC prepared in advance. An EPC is valid for 10 years at present, so there's no reason not to. One advantage is that you may find out that you can very cheaply improve the energy efficiency of your home as part of your preparation for selling. This would improve your home's EPC rating, and provide an immediate reduction in your fuel bills. If you make changes to your home that were suggested in the EPC, most DEAs will update it and issue a new one for a small additional fee.

You can easily find a local DEA by any of the following methods:

  • searching online using any search engine;

About the author: @linniR is a consultant, a freelance writer and a Domestic Energy Assessor accredited with the NHER scheme, and she enjoys all three.  She tweets regularly on issues relating to energy efficiency and renewables and provides consultancy, especially in relation to training needs.

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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