Q. How long is my Home Information Pack valid for - and does it make a difference if I have to take my home off the market temporarily?

ASK THE EXPERT

A. This is one of those HIP-related issues which, thanks to the rather ambiguous wording of the regulations, continue to cause a certain amount of confusion – and not just amongst the general public, either. In fact, a quick trawl through some of the literature and websites dealing with the subject reveals a worrying degree of inconsistency – not to mention downright mis-information. So, in order to be doubly sure, I’ve checked with the relevant Government department.

According to the housing section of Communities and Local Government, the situation is as follows. For a period of 12 months after putting your home up for sale for the first time, you can take it off the market and put it back on again as often as you like, for any reason you care to mention, and still use the original HIP. Moreover, if at the end of that year you still haven’t found a buyer, you can continue to market your property for as long as it takes to sell, without the need for a new HIP, but only if you do so without a break – except where an agreed sale subsequently falls through. In this case, you can still return to the market with the original HIP – but only if you do so within a period of 28 days.

Finally, while we’re on the subject of confusion, there is also a widespread belief that local authority searches and evidence of title are only valid for 3 months. In reality, the rules simply stipulate that both these sets of documents must be no more than 3 months old when the HIP is first compiled. Thereafter, they can be used for as long as the original HIP remains valid, as described above. Whether a buyer’s solicitor, or more importantly, their lender, will accept searches that could be at least 15 months old is another matter – but under the HIPs regulations, you as the seller are not actually obliged to pay for anything more up to date.