Sunday 12 April 2009

HIPs "upgraded" from 6 April

Now that HIPs must include a PIQ, there is another hurdle to leap before marketing a property, but we at Nelsons Property Lawyers think we can help

There are different versions of the PIQ for existing homes and for new homes - a new home for these purposes is a home that is being designed or constructed or which has never been occupied. – and different versions for freehold and for leasehold properties.

The forms produced by the government do not have to be used; so long as the same information is collected. This gives those who want to prepare a more comprehensive HIP an opportunity to make the PIQ more useful than the minimal form would be, but the current trend with HIPs is to do as little as possible to comply with the legal requirements, rather than as much as possible to expedite the sale process, so I will not expect anyone to try very hard to improve on the “basic” PIQ.

It should take most sellers less than ten minutes to complete the basic PIQ for freehold properties, but completing even the basic PIQ for leasehold property will be a longer, more daunting process.

The PIQ says, “The Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 (PMA) does not apply where the form has been completed solely by the seller.” There is, therefore, a clear implication that an agent who helps a seller complete the PIQ could be liable for property misdescription if the PIQ contains errors. Accordingly, it would be best for the estate agent to get the seller to complete the PIQ alone, or to get the HIP provider to deal with it or to enlist the assistance of a local solicitor or conveyancer.

Most sellers will, after some initial grumblings, complete the freehold part of the PIQ without too much resistance. However, the leasehold part is another matter completely and I anticipate that many sellers may feel the need to speak to a solicitor or conveyancer - ideally, the solicitor or conveyancer who acted when they bought the property.

Where they cannot (or will not) do that, we will be happy to help. We will spend up to half an hour at our office free of charge, helping a local seller complete the PIQ and guiding them on where they can find any information they are lacking. If more than half an hour is involved, we reserve the right to make a charge (probably £50), but would normally waive this - our aim is to build relationships with local agents and prospective clients, and to help streamline the conveyancing process, rather than to make a profit out of this quasi-legal work.

If you want help in completing the PIQ, please contact Sam (Samantha Robb) or Anne (Anne Browne) at Nelsons Property Lawyers in Tenterden: telephone 01580 767100

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