Scrapping Home Information Packs – Ins & Outs

The Conservative and Liberal Democrats have published their initial coalition agreement which will be followed in due course by a final coalition agreement.

The Lib-Con Coalition Agreement published makes reference to Energy Performance Certificates and Home Information Packs under section 11 on the environment.

The agreement states;

“Retention of energy performance certificates while scrapping HIPs.”

So what does that mean for Home Information Packs (HIPs) future?

Home Information PackFor now it indicates uncertainty and as has been made abundantly clear during the election campaign; uncertainty is rarely good for anyone.

It is of interest that the Home Information Pack reference is not ‘grouped’ together in the agreement with civil liberties and points regarding a repeal bill in section 10. David Cameron mentioned in a pre-election interview that he would put forward a “great repeal bill” soon after being elected.

This would scrap ID cards, home information packs and dozens of rarely enforced criminal offences introduced by Labour over 13 years.

Does this still apply with the new arrangement with the Lib Dems or has its priority and impact been re-evaluated?

The HIPs’ reference is there but its significance, the intention and immediacy to act upon is far from clear.

The past and problems faced by Home Information Packs (HIPs)

Unfortunately, it is a story of vested interests where those opposed have vested interest in the demise and those in favour vested interests in their success. (Yes, we supply HIPs direct, we are not a re-seller so have an interest in their success.)

Those who are anti-HIPs soon gained or already had a good relationship with the Conservatives and this translated into wide spread media dislike for the packs from the outset. The media (uneducated on the subject; the BBC election channel even made factual errors yesterday) ran with the anti-HIP hype which rubbed off on the general public.

From our experience the publics’ initial opposition has massively weakened as they have slowly learned and gained the benefits of the HIP to the point where they are generally widely accepted. With a little explanation most can see the concept is sound even if the implementation has left a lot to be desired.

Whilst ‘people’ have undoubtedly learned about certain aspects of the HIP; the main concept still appears to have been lost and this has got to be acknowledged as a failure by those in support of and promoting the HIP.

The HIP is a vehicle to supply upfront information about a property for sale.

Both pro and anti HIP groups can argue regarding the validity and value of certain documents within a HIP. However, it is hard to disagree that the concept of having information about the biggest purchase of our lives before we are expect to commit to purchase, is ultimately sound.

To suggest we would remove upfront information about other purchases or activities would be deemed an outrage to the rights of consumers.


The food industry saying, ‘Yes, we will provide nutritional information regarding food, but only once you have bought it, or even better once you have eaten it.’

The car industry saying, ‘Of course we will tell you what tax band the vehicle is in and the MPG you can anticipate, but we need you to commit to buying first.’

The local school saying, ‘Yes, there was an OfSted report recently carried out on our school, but before you can read it we need you to enrol your child in our school.’

An appliance retailer saying, ‘Yes, we have the energy rating of this fridge. We will give you details once you have paid at the till.’

The impact if they scrap HIPs

It is likely that property conveyancing costs will rise to pre-HIP levels and the fees that are currently being paid to HIP providers will simply revert to being paid to conveyancers.

We have previously looked at detailed issues relating to scrapping HIPs of which we have yet to see any strategy being put into place to tackle.

Whilst those blinded by the anti-HIP hype and those with vested interests revel in the home information pack being abolished, spare a thought for the thousands who will lose their jobs. It is estimated there are approximately 10,000 directly or indirectly involved in the industry.

It will most likely give rise to companies and individuals who have invested large amounts of time and money to seek compensation from the government.

So should I still buy a HIP?

We discussed whether the Conservative Home Information Pack policy would stall the property market? back in December 2009 and gained a response from the then shadow housing minister Grant Shapps on how he would consult on Home Information Pack Policy. However, the response was far from conclusive and further answers were not forth coming.

All we can say is at present, a home information pack is still legally required to market your home for sale. Whether this will be the case tomorrow, a months time, six months time or in four years time it is hard to say.

Should I wait to sell my house and save the HIP costs?

That really is a decision you will need to make yourself though you should consider…

… by not selling now when I want to and saving HIP fees …

  • will I pay more for conveyancing ?
  • will VAT go up ?
  • will the cost of the house I would like to buy have increased therefore the cost to change will have increased?
  • will stamp duty fees rise?

Waiting to enter the property market until the government scrap HIPs  may prove to be a false economy. You could also question putting your life on hold for a few hundred pounds when you consider other related costs in the buying and selling process.

If Lib-Con coalition scrap Home Information Packs what next?

Again, there is no answer at present though the home buying and selling process has never been deemed ‘acceptable’ and is likely to receive another review if HIPs are completely scrapped and not adapted.

If this is the case expect the anti-HIP parties to step forward again to protect and promote their vested interests and a ‘new sellers pack’ to come to the forefront.

It has been rumoured TV star Kirsty Allsopp will be prominent as an adviser to the new government though it is yet to be confirmed if Nick Clegg would actually prefer Phil Spencer.

How quickly can they scrap HIPs?

Unfortunately for everyone involved in the industry or considering buying or selling it is unclear. There is lot of  speculation in regard to what is legally possible and what process is required to suspend or scrap the HIP.

The speculation ranges from immediate suspension to previous statements that the intention would be to hold a consultation before any changes would be made.

With the country in an apparent reported state of financial and economic fragility and the challenges which are undoubtedly ahead; it does raise the question of whether those closely monitoring the HIP’s future are being too insular. Would the Home Information Pack be a high priority if you were the new Prime Minister?

Time will tell, though indecision and uncertainty on the issue does not seem a good environment which would be allowed to form and foster.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Comments are closed.