Avoiding HIPs

From next Wednesday anyone starting to market their home will need a Home Information Pack if it has four or more bedrooms. If you use an estate agent then they will be responsible for ensuring that one has been ordered but with over 2.5 million properties marketed every year, how will anyone know if you have bothered. Can you save £300+ by not getting a HIP?
During the long and at times heated debate in the run up to Home Information Packs, there have been any number of suggestions about how you can avoid having to get a HIP. Here are some of the myths;-

I can describe my fourth bedroom as a study.
The RICS suggested doing this might save you the cost of the HIP but according to the property website Primemove.com, the difference between a three bedroom and a four bedroom house in London is about £160,000.

I can take out an advert before the end of July and even if I don’t market my house until next year, it will be exempt.
The transition period is for property on the market now but will extend to any property being marketed in 2008

The fine if you don’t have a HIP is only £200 so why bother?
Trading Standards officers have the power to refer an estate agent who fails to comply to the Office of Fair Trading who can take steps to ban an estate agent from practicing.

So long as I order one then I am covered. I can cancel it if I decide not sell.
An order made for a HIP cannot be cancelled unless previously agreed with the Pack provider. It seems unlikely that such an offer would be acceptable and the provider would successful sue to recover the cost though the Small Claims Court.

If I sell the house myself I don’t need a HIP.
The Act defines ‘the responsible person’ as either the homeowner or his agent if one is instructed.

No one is going to bother checking if every property has had an HIP.
By recording the details of every property advertised on the Internet and cross referencing them with the central register of Energy Performance Certificates it is possible to identify any qualifying property that requires a HIP and by extension which ones have not. The HiP Exchange offers a compliance service based on this model to larger solicitors and estate agents who want the reassurance that they are not missing any properties.