Home Information Packs

Moving house is always said to be one of the most stressful events of a lifetime. In West Sussex, where the average detached house now costs nearly £380,000, it is also ruinously expensive.

Now it will involve an additional headache - and cost. From 1 June, everyone who puts their house up for sale will be legally obliged to produce a Home Information Pack. These will include copies of title documents, required searches and an Energy Performance Certificate.

The Government's original aim was respectable enough - to reduce the number of property sales which fall through by ensuring that as much information as possible is presented up front to the buyer.

But the key element of the plan, to make Home Condition Reports a compulsory element of HIPs, was dropped after lenders said they would not rely on them. Solicitors will advise buyers not to rely on the packs and to apply for their own full searches.

HIPs will not remove the need for a full structural survey in complex or older properties. Nor will they be required to include key information on flood risk, natural subsidence or land contamination. So they will be of limited use.

This week an influential Lords committee warned that opposition to HIPs is widespread. Most of my constituents who have raised the issue are opposed to the plan.  Some professionals believe that the packs will actually slow down the buying and selling process.

The Government's new justification for HIPs is that they are a green measure, since Energy Performance Certificates will rate homes depending on how well they generate and conserve heat.

But stinging homeowners for anything between £500 and £1,000 isn't a smart way to incentivise energy conversation. All HIPs will do is add an unnecessary layer of expense and bureaucracy to the process of moving house which is already quite difficult enough.

Michelle Taylor