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Last Updated: Friday, 17 August 2007, 14:33 GMT 15:33 UK
Hips extended to three-bed homes
Hips packs have drawn praise and criticism in equal measure
The government has said it will extend its Home Information Pack scheme (Hips) to cover three-bedroom homes in England and Wales from 10 September 2007.

Hips are intended to speed up house sales, but critics say it makes the process expensive and bureaucratic.

They were introduced on 1 August for four-bedroom homes and contain title deeds, local searches and an energy performance certificate (EPCs).

Hips packs cost the seller about 400 and take roughly five days to compile.

Following the expansion of the scheme, 60% of the property market in England and Wales will be covered by Hips, the Department of Communities and Local Government said.

Scotland is set to get its own version of Hips in 2008.

'As promised'

The introduction of Hips was beset by problems, and the government delayed their introduction because there were not enough qualified inspectors to produce EPCs.

Evidence of title
Copies of planning, listed building or building regulations consents
A local search
Guarantees for any work on the property
An energy performance certificate

Originally the government had wanted to introduce Hips for all houses put up for sale in England and Wales from 1 June.

However, in the end it pushed the starting date by two months and limited the initial roll-out to properties with four or more bedrooms.

On Friday, the government "confirmed there will be enough energy assessors, nationally and regionally, to roll out to three-bedroom homes next month, having taken into account the operation of Hips in the market".

It added that there would be a further announcement on rolling out Hips and EPCs to other properties "in due course".

Green savings

Communities Minister Baroness Andrews said: "We are now ready to start rolling out Hips and EPCs to the next part of the market as promised."

"Hips and EPCs can help families to save hundreds of pounds off their fuel bills, and cut a million tonnes of carbon a year," she continued.

Pushing ahead with Hips will just make life harder and more expensive for people buying and selling property
Shadow housing minister Grant Shapps

"They also have the potential to reduce the millions of pounds wasted by consumers when buying and selling a home, by increasing transparency and competition in a process that hasn't changed for a generation."

According to the Energy Saving Trust, the average consumer could cut their fuel bills by as much as 300 a year if they follow the recommendations in the EPCs.

Originally, Hips were also intended to include a survey, but this was dropped after objections from businesses involved in the property industry.

Some critics have also complained that there has not been enough research done into how Hips will affect the housing market.

Preliminary reports suggest a substantial reduction in the number of four bed properties coming onto the market
Jeremy Leaf, RICS spokesman

"The government has no idea how this will affect the housing market," said Jeremy Leaf, a spokesman for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

"We find it hard to believe that the government is pressing ahead with this policy at such short notice without first conducting a proper market impact study," he added.

"Preliminary reports suggest a substantial reduction in the number of four bed properties coming onto the market."

Opposition criticism

Opposition political parties questioned the wisdom of expanding the Hips scheme.

Shadow housing minister Grant Shapps called the plan "pointless red tape", adding that it would lead to extra costs and bureaucracy.

"Pushing ahead with Hips will just make life harder and more expensive for people buying and selling property," he said.

Liberal Democrat spokesman Andrew Stunell said the expansion was "just another stumbling step in implementing a flawed scheme".

"This is no way to ensure that the country's homes cut their carbon footprint," he added. "It is time for a completely fresh look at tackling climate change."

How the packs could affect the marketing of homes

HIP assessors waiting by the phone
01 Aug 07 |  Business
Q&A: Home information packs
31 Jul 07 |  Business
D-day for home information packs
01 Aug 07 |  Business
Home information packs under fire
01 May 07 |  Business
Home seller's pack trial starts
06 Nov 06 |  England
'Abolish home packs' say lenders
27 Oct 06 |  Business

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