By: Neil Fawcett
The government’s controversial HIP scheme has been put firmly on the back boiler. Not thrown down the drain yet but “delayed” from the scheduled start date of 1st June 2007 to 1st August 2007. And then it will only apply to properties with four or more bedrooms.

The original plan was that if you wanted to put your house on the market after 1st June this year you would have to have a pack to give to potential buyers containing a detailed report on the condition of the property and searches and copies of the title documents.

In mid 2006 the government said the home condition report would not be compulsory. In other words effectively dropping the report from the pack and replacing it with a compulsory energy performance certificate.

It has been a bit of a mystery since then whether there would be enough qualified energy assessors in time to provide these certificates. But ministers were insisting until a few days ago that everything was in place for the deadline and that the packs would definitely be compulsory from 1st June.     

Whatever sense there was in providing full information to prospective buyers about all homes on sale it is hard to see the logic of the new arrangements. The original scheme was publicised as being particularly helpful to first time buyers. The searches they have to pay for at the moment would be provided at the expense of the seller. The new arrangements announced in parliament by Ruth Kelly on 22nd May 2007 will hardly touch the first time buyer market as they only apply to properties with four or more bedrooms.   

Perhaps local councils who will have the job of enforcing the scheme are already pondering the question “what is a four bedroom house”. A large cupboard which might accommodate a small bed could be a “bedroom” according to one way of thinking. On the other hand three bedroomed properties with a boxroom, study, den, workroom, playroom, or a combination of these may be appearing on the market in greater numbers after 1st August.  

By August we shall have a new Prime Minister who is reportedly not enthusiastic about HIPs. Expect an announcement towards the end of July that the scheme has been further delayed so that it can be implemented even better, and that it will only apply to homes built at an altitude of more than 1345 metres above sea level. 

Fawcett & Pattni Solicitors at http://fp-law.com Links