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Pre-HIP deadline extended to spring 2008

In yet another government U-turn, properties that go on the market before the Home Information Pack implementation date June 1 will now be able to stay HIP-free until March 2008 rather than the original October 2007 deadline.

When the government first produced the guidelines for HIPs last summer it allowed that properties put on the market before June 1 2007 could continue to be marketed until October 31 2007 without the need to produce a pack.

This was to ensure that the market wasn’t disrupted by a massive demand for the production of packs in the weeks before June 1.

However, changes to the guidelines for HIPs, revealed by the government on January 25, include a proposal that properties marketed before June 1 can continue to be marketed without a HIP until March 31 2008.

Other changes include what documents must be in a pack when the house goes on the market.

Sellers are now able to market their home as soon as an Energy Performance Certificate and key legal documents are provided as long as searches and leasehold documents have been “commissioned”.

Previously, a HIP had a to contain a local searches before the property could go on the market and HIPs for leasehold properties were required to contain leasehold documents, unless these have not been received within 14 days.

The government describes these changes as “transitional arrangements”, which will be reviewed after six months to see whether they are still needed.

Another new measure is that fines for estate agents who fail to produce HIPs will be reviewed in the light of experience from June 1 and could be raised from £200 to £500 if agents fail to meet their commitments.

Some industry commentators say this is a sign that the government is concerned that estate agents, many of whom have far from embraced HIPs, will rebel against the legislation.

A larger fine could therefore be introduced to discourage estate agents from flouting the law.

Trevor Kent, former president of the National Association of Estate Agents, says: “Rarely has there been a more inept, inefficient and unprofessional legislative intervention in an open market scenario, than has been witnessed with this HIP fiasco.”

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