Housing minister Caroline Flint today introduced a package of new measures that will lead to the introduction of a new ‘industry code’ governing the much-maligned Home Information Packs (HIPS).

The government has appointed the RICS and other bodies including the Law Society to help it establish a new set of standards to improve HIPS and ‘bring together best practice within the industry into a single set of standards that all consumers can expect from property professionals in the home buying and selling process, including redress arrangements, the provision of Home Information Packs and delivery of local searches’.

HIPS Extension

Flint also said the government would extend until the end of the year the provisions enabling consumers to market their home as long as they have ordered and committed to pay for a HIP, as well as the provision requiring the lease to be included in the HIP for leasehold properties.

The proposed new measures include: developing a new set of standards with industry on what consumers should expect from property professionals in the home buying and selling process;

building on the quality of information in the packs; ensuring that agents and HIP providers understand and act on the requirement to prepare the HIP as soon as the EPC is produced, so that it is available to potential buyers early in the process.

‘We want to do more to improve the HIP’

Flint said: ‘Home Information Packs are already bringing benefits to consumers…But we want to do more to improve the HIP and the home buying and selling process for consumers…We also want to ensure all consumers are seeing the vital information in a HIP early in the process so they can fully benefit.’

She said that more than 700,000 homes now have energy ratings as a result of HIPs which was helping home owners to save money on their fuel bills and cut carbon emissions.

Homeowners are required to provide a HIP when marketing their homes for sale. The pack must include evidence of title, terms of sale and standard searches.

An energy efficiency rating must also be included in the report, giving consumers the choice to assess the likely running costs of a property before they buy.