Since 2007, sellers have been required to provide Home Information Packs (HIPs) when selling their residential properties. The contents of HIPs included property information, local searches and energy performance certificates (EPCs).

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced that it has laid an order before Parliament suspending the requirement for homeowners to provide HIPs when selling their homes, with effect from 21 May 2010. Primary legislation will be required to permanently abolish HIPs.

EPCs retained

Sellers will still be required to commission EPCs before marketing their properties. The DCLG has laid before Parliament the Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2010. The new regulations will impose:

* A new duty on the seller to commission an EPC before marketing the property. An EPC will be treated as commissioned when the seller:

• instructs an energy assessor to prepare an EPC; and

• has either paid for the EPC or given a clear undertaking to pay for it.

* A new duty on the person acting on behalf of the seller to be satisfied that an EPC has been commissioned before commencing marketing.

* A new duty on both the seller and a person acting on its behalf to make reasonable efforts to secure an EPC within 28 days.

* Fixed penalties for failure to comply with the new regulations.

Our View

Head of Residential Property Stephen Lansley comments:

” This is potentially good news for the property market. HIPS actually caused delays in some transactions and we hope that their suspension will give a boost to the market and encourage more people to sell. Investor sellers will, however, have to move quickly to sell properties as there is now a small period of time, before the introduction of higher Capital Gains Tax rates. We have already prepared for an initial surge in transactions across the whole market to ensure that we can offer our client’s the most efficient and cost effective service possible.”