Rob Hailstone, CEO of home information pack provider Hipag, has welcomed the Department of Communities & Local Government’s announcement that area trials of HIPs have been successful. “It is heartening to learn that three quarters of customers surveyed are satisfied with HIPs. It’s specially welcome to hear that nearly one third of buyers plan to carry out the recommendations contained in the Energy Performance Certificate in order to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. However, I am surprised to learn that 81 per cent of sellers understood the documents. That probably means that 81 per cent understood what the documents were and not what the information contained in those documents would mean to them or their buyers.”

We did ask Mr Hailstone whether he actually meant to insult homebuyers by suggesting they were too dim to understand the HIPs documentation and this is what he replied…

“I think the use of the phrase '81% of sellers understood the documents' used by the CLG may have been a bit misleading. The implication is that a high proportion of the general public would understand some very dry legal documents written mainly for lawyers to interpret. What I suspect happened was that the public were asked if they understood what a Water and Drainage Search etc was, not what information that document contained, in exactly the same way as I would not expect to understand the contents of a medical document for example.

“As an ex property lawyer I would not expect most of my clients to understand the documents I was employed to explain. The guide I have produced is to help begin to explain the kind of information that you would find in the documents in a HIP if those documents were delved into thoroughly. I was most certainly not intending to be condescending. I am sure the majority of home owners are bright, however most have no legal training, nor are they expected to. The HIP (in its current form) without a guide or a lawyer to interpret is not really a document for the layman.”

Hipag do produce a comprehensive layman's guide to HIPs as part of their HIP package.