From 1st June 2007, it will be mandatory for owners of residential property within England and Wales to commission Home Information Packs (HIPs) if they wish to sell their property. A similar scheme is also planned for Scotland, which has a different system for buying and selling property.
The Government has defined the mandatory parts of a HIP.
While this is not the place to debate the merits or otherwise of the concept, it is interesting to note that for the first time, English and Welsh home owners will be given the actual floor area of their property (in square metres). The floor area will eventually appear twice in the HIP – once in the Home Condition Report* Summary
and once in the Energy Performance Certificate
It remains to be seen how long it will be before estate agents start quoting the floor area, and if so, whether they will use square metres (which is mandatory within the report) or whether they will convert to square feet (which will not appear in the report).
Further information on HIPs, including a proposal for a “homelabel” can be found on UKMA’s website at http://www.ukma.org.uk/press/releases/pr030630.htm
* Editorial Note: the Government has postponed the Home Condition Report, which for the time being will be voluntary.
8 thoughts on “Home information packs”
UK estate agents have never quoted floor area for residential property, in imperial or metric units. The main unit of housing in the UK seem to be the “bedroom”, or “bed”. No other headline information is ever given about the size of a property. Room sizes are given as length and width (even for L-shaped rooms). It can therefore be hoped that when they do start calculating area for the HIP, the public are not going to start demanding square feet or yards, but are just going to get used to a single measurement in mÂ².
The whole Home Information Pack scheme looks likely to descend into farce following the announcement that HIPs will initially be required only for properties with 4 or more bedrooms.
The fact that there is no legal definition of a “bedroom”, means that sellers of 4-bedroom homes will be able to make up their own descriptions for their properties, such as “3-bedrooms + 1 HIP-replacement room”, in order to avoid the cost of providing a Home Information Pack.
How much more sensible it would be if homes were legally required to be described in terms of total floor area (in square metres). It would then have been a simple matter to set the value for total floor area of a property above which a HIP would be required.
Since this was posted, the Government announced a delay in its implementation – HIPs would only be required for houses with four or more bedrooms after 1st August. There has of course been considerable discussion as to what constitutes a “4-bedroom house”.
There was a debate in the House of Lords on the matter. (See http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200607/ldhansrd/text/70522-0006.htm ). In particular, Lord Tebbit brought the matter up and it was Baroness Gardner of Parkes who suggested that “square footage” be used as the cut-off point. hopefully if this suggestion is taken up, then the legislation would require that the area be specified in square metres.
On 11-Jun-2007, legislation was laid before Parliament to formally postpone the introduction of HIPs until 1st August for 4-bedroom houses. The legislation can be viewed at http://www.homeinformationpack.gov.uk/pdf/Hips_Order.pdf.
It appears that the Minister ignored the advice from the House of Lords (see above) and also from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors that there was no legal definition of what consituted a “four bedroom house”. After all, a couple nearing retirement might well have a house with four upstairs rooms which they use as “Master bedroom”, “Guest room”, “His study”, “Her study”. It becomes even more confusing if they had a large bungalow where there is no clear-cut distinction between bedrooms and reception rooms.
We will wait and see what happens on 2nd August 2007.
I think you will find that there is enough legal grounds for defining what is a 4 bedroom house, please see my blog entry and others on the same 4-bedroom loophole tag.
BTW: Wonderful blog 🙂 I support your ideals 100%
As a non British (Iâ€™m Spanish from Barcelona) living in England (in Bath to be precise) Iâ€™ve been always surprised that about the fact of not showing house/flat sizes in square meters, especially when some estate agents call a double room anything where they can feet a double bed, even if you have to jump over the bed to get to the other side of the room. In Spain, property prices are given per square meter and you pay more for a bigger house and less for a smaller one (of course there are other factors involved, like quality and most important location), doesnâ€™t it make sense?
By the way, thereâ€™s already a date for the 3 bedroom homes to need a HIP, that is from the 10th of September 2007.
New regulations, effective from 6 April 2012, will require that the first page of an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is included with sales particulars. Hitherto, many estate agents have avoided giving this information, claiming that it was not needed until exchange of contracts. The first page includes the floor area of the house or flat (in square metres), which should ensure that would-be buyers and tenants will be better informed.
I was able to find this link describing the changes to the regulations regarding the furnishing of the EPC:
I’m sure there are others, too.