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HIP also hip

noun [countable] British

home information pack: a collection of documents which provide legal and other official information about a house, and which are provided by the owner to someone interested in buying the house

'A £200 penalty can be issued daily by the Trading Standards Institute to those estate agents and private sellers who market a home before a HIP is in place.'

Daily Express 18th May 2007

'The Government says hips will help the seller decide on a realistic asking price and give the buyer the essential information needed to make a well-informed offer.'

Wales on Sunday 13th May 2007

If you've recently overheard someone talking about how they've got problems with their 'hip', then remember that in 2007 they're just as likely to be talking about the house they own as they are about mobility problems.

From 1st August 2007, it will be compulsory for anyone selling a large house in England or Wales to provide prospective buyers with a Home Information Pack, more commonly referred to as a HIP. The HIP (often simply written as lower case hip, and sometimes also referred to as a seller's pack), is a collection of documents which are basically intended to prove that what the seller claims about a property is true. (HIPs will be mandatory for homes with four or more bedrooms from the 1st August 2007, and phased in for smaller homes in subsequent months.)

A HIP has five components: a HIP index, which explains exactly what's in the information pack; an energy performance certificate, which rates the property according to energy efficiency and environmental impact; a sale statement, which gives legal information about ownership of the site; a searches document, which provides information about issues surrounding the house and local authority, such as water, drainage, and nearby planning proposals; and an evidence of title document, which proves that the seller actually owns the property.

the controversy surrounding the HIP concept has fuelled a range of tongue-in-cheek news headlines, such as Hip, hip Hooray …, Time for a HIP replacement …, and £200 fine if you break your HIP

Perhaps surprisingly, a structural survey (a document which gives a detailed assessment of the physical condition of a property), is not a compulsory part of the HIP, and is something that a buyer arranges separately. The decision about whether a survey should be included in the HIP has proven to be a rather controversial issue. When the concept of the HIP was first proposed, it was thought that a survey would be the most important part of it, but the government were forced to withdraw it after lobbying by various organizations, notably the National Association of Estate Agents, who argued that buyers were unlikely to trust a survey arranged by the seller.

Another problematic area is a shortage of inspectors trained to carry out the assessment necessary for the energy performance certificate. This involves evaluating a home's energy efficiency by looking at lighting, heating systems and insulation, etc. and must be undertaken by an officially-registered energy efficiency surveyor.

The controversy surrounding the HIP concept has fuelled a range of tongue-in-cheek news headlines, such as Hip, hip Hooray …, Time for a HIP replacement …, and £200 fine if you break your HIP.

Background – HIP

The concept of the HIP was introduced by the UK government as part of the Housing Act in 2004, and it was intended to speed up the process of house buying and selling by making all essential information available at the start.

A HIP costs around £500, and residents of England and Wales could be fined at least £200 if they try to sell their house without having one when required. An official website giving detailed information about HIPs can be found at here.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 11th June 2007.

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