In 2007, Home Information Packs (or HIPs as they are often referred to) are became mandatory for anyone who put their home up for sale within England and Wales, this was changed again in 2010 and it was no longer a legal requirement but you could still come across them.

This article was written when they first came out and contains information in what was required by previous legislation, this article should be used only as a historical guide regarding this document.

What was a HIP?

The reasoning behind them was to try and help cut down the number of house sales that “fell through” due to the condition of the property, or the legitimacy of any of the documentation. Problems that were normally only discovered after the sale had been agreed – often after great expense to the buyer. As well as the cost, there was there time needed to hire surveyors, property conveyancing solicitors, as well as other professionals. All of which often led to long delays in the exchanging of contracts, or the complete collapse of the sale.

HIP’s give the buyer the chance to see all the documentation free of charge before placing an offer on the property, allowing them to make a more informed decision before too much money has been paid out.

The Home Information Packs are made up of compulsory and optional documents, and shouldn’t contain advertising or marketing – it is a source of official information only.

When the buyer has seen a property they like, they have the right to ask for a copy of the Home Information Pack. The seller (or their agents) must give a copy of the pack for free, but are allowed to make a reasonable charge for the copying and posting of it. HIP’s should be received within 14 days of requesting it and a potential buyer doesn’t have to have made a formal offer on the property to be able to see it.

There are a few cases where a HIP may be refused, this is usually when a seller considers that the requester isn’t really interested in the property, couldn’t afford the property or isn’t a person the seller would wish to sell the property to. If the buyer is refused a copy of the HIP and they can see no legal reason for the refusal, then they should approach their local Trading Standards Office.

When the buyer receives it, they need to make sure they check the index to ensure all of the compulsory documentation is included. If anything is missing then assurance should be obtained that there is a good reason for it not being included and that the missing items will be provided as soon as possible. If they decide to proceed with the negotiations to buy the property, their solicitor will find the HIP useful when making their pre-contract enquires, so the buyer should be sure that the HIP is passed on to them at this stage.