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Advice

Obtaining a Home Report

There are two ways to commission a Home Report:

  • through your selling agent or
  • direct with a chartered surveying firm.

If you are selling your house without using a selling agent more information can be found in Marketing Your Own Home.

Your Home Report must be no more than 12 weeks old when the house is put on the market. This ensures that potential buyers get the most up-to-date information.

You can take your house off the market for up to four weeks on any number of occasions and put it back on the market without having to get a new Home Report, as long as it has not been sold in that time. This can be useful if you want to go on holiday or if you want to make repairs to your home.

This flowchart provides further information about commissioning a Home Report and what to do if you would like to take your house off the market for a short period of time.

 
Providing Copies Of The Home Report To Prospective Buyers

You or your agent must provide, upon request, a copy Home Report to a prospective buyer within 9 days. You may charge a reasonable charge to cover the costs of copying and postage.

It is possible for you to refuse to provide a copy Home Report if you reasonably believe that the buyer:

  • is unlikely to have sufficient means to buy the house in question
  • is not genuinely interested in buying the house;
  • is not a person to whom the seller is likely to be prepared to sell the house, but this does not allow you to act in a discriminatory manner.
 
The Home Report Documents

A Home Report must include:

  • a Single Survey which is a report prepared by a survey provider on the condition and value of a house;
  • an Energy Report (likely to be prepared by the surveyor who has inspected the house) which will provide you will an energy efficiency rating (including an Energy Performance Certificate) of a house together with useful advice to cut fuel bills and increase the home's energy efficiency; and
  • a Property Questionnaire that contains further information about the house such as alterations that have been made, factoring costs and council tax banding.
 
Home Report Costs

You should check with your selling agent to determine what the cost will be and whether there are any payment options available. You should shop around to find the best available product for your needs.

Marketing Your Own House

If you do not use a selling agent and instead you market your own house, you will need to instruct a surveyor registered with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors to prepare a Single Survey with an Energy Report. You must also complete a Property Questionnaire. Once you have all the documents that you need, you can then commence marketing your house. You must provide a copy Home Report, upon request, to prospective buyers, with the exceptions above.

 
Shelf Life

The legislation does not prescribe a 'shelf life' specifying a period of time for which a Home Report is valid. If your house has been on the market for some time, you may find that a buyer may wish to have the survey or valuation refreshed in the later stages of the transaction in order to satisfy their lender that it is still a sound basis for releasing money. Any instruction to 'refresh' a Single Survey by the buyer or you will be a matter for you both to decide and the charge, if any, will be determined by the surveyor or Home Report provider as part of their service.

Penalties For Breach Of The Home Report Duties

Trading Standards are responsible for enforcement of the duties to provide Home Reports. If an enforcement officer believes that there has been of a breach, by a seller or selling agent, of the duty to possess or provide a Home Report, they may issue a penalty charge notice. The notice requires payment of a penalty charge, set at £500, within a specified period of time.

A seller or selling agent can appeal against the penalty charge notice and should seek advice from Trading Standards about how to go about this.

Properties That Don't Need A Home Report

A seller or their agent who markets a house from 1 December onwards must provide a copy of a Home Report, but there are some exceptions. These are listed below.

New housing - New housing includes homes that may be sold 'off-plan' to the first purchaser or sold to the first occupier. Any subsequent sale of a home will not be exempt even if it has a certificate from, for example, the National House-Building Council (NHBC).

Newly converted premises - This means a property which is being, or has been, converted to a home if it has not previously been used in its converted state.

Right to Buy homes - As the sale of a home to a tenant under the 'Right to Buy' does not involve marketing, the duty to provide a Home Report does not apply. A separate package of information is being developed for Right to Buy purchasers.
Seasonal and holiday accommodation - This exception refers to seasonal and holiday accommodation (as defined in planning legislation), which only has permission to be used for less than 11 months in any year. It does not include second homes or holiday cottages that could be used all year if the owner so chose.

A portfolio of residential properties - This means a home which is to be sold with one or more other homes and where it is clear from the manner in which the homes are marketed that the seller does not intend to accept an offer to buy one of those homes in isolation from another. Sales of a portfolio of residential properties are considered to be commercial transactions. A home which is ancillary to a principal property may include, for example a 'granny flat', or butler's cottage that is attached to a larger property on a country estate.

'Mixed sales' - This occurs where a home is sold with one or more non-residential properties (provided it is clear that the seller does not intend to consider an offer to buy the home separately from the non-residential property). This might include farmhouses that are part of a working farm, or flats above shops or pubs that are sold with the shop or pub.

Dual use of a dwelling house - This describes the situation where the home is, or forms part of, a property most recently used for both residential and non-residential purposes, such as a commercial studio where the owner also lives in the home.

Unsafe properties - Unsafe properties are evidently in a condition that poses a serious risk to the health or safety of occupants or visitors, or where the way the home is marketed suggests it is unsuitable for occupation in that condition. There is little point in a condition survey being undertaken on a home that is unfit for occupation in any case, and is being advertised as such.

Properties to be demolished - There is an exception for homes to be demolished where it is clear the home is suitable for demolition and all the necessary consents have been obtained for demolition and consents obtained for redevelopment. There is little point in a condition survey being undertaken on a home that is to be demolished and is being advertised as a development site.

The Home Report duties do not apply to non-residential property.