Since 1st December 2008, houses coming to the market (subject to certain very limited exceptions) may only be advertised for sale if a Home Report is available. A Home Report consists of a pack of three documents: a Single Survey, an Energy Report and a Property Questionnaire. The Home Report is to be made available on request to prospective buyers of that home.
The Single Survey contains an assessment by a surveyor of the condition of the home, provides a valuation and gives an accessibility audit for people with particular needs.
The Energy Report contains an assessment by a surveyor of the energy efficiency of the home and its environmental impact. It also recommends ways to improve its energy efficiency.
The Property Questionnaire is normally completed by the seller of the home. The Questionnaire will provide useful information about the house itself, such as Council Tax banding, service providers, details of any significant works or alterations carried out to the property.
The Single Survey, Energy Performance Report and Property Questionnaire taken together make up the Home Report.
The Single Survey is carried out by a Chartered Surveyor and provides sellers with detailed information about the condition and market valuation of a home prior to it being marketed for sale. It also provides buyers with better information about the condition and value of a home to enable them to consider whether or not they wish to make an offer for any particular property.
The Single Survey includes an accessibility audit that makes Scotland the first country to provide details of the accessibility features of every home to potential buyers. This information can benefit parents with young children and older people, as well as disabled people.
The Energy Report gives a home's energy efficiency rating and its environmental impact in terms of carbon dioxide emissions.
It recommends ways to improve the building's energy efficiency and gives contact details for further advice and information about how to make a home more energy efficient and save fuel costs. The Energy Report helps home buyers to make 'green' choices, by comparing energy costs between homes and giving practical advice to reduce carbon emissions and save on energy bills.
The Property Questionnaire contains information for home buyers, solicitors and surveyors. It would include, for example: a home's council tax band, parking facilities, factoring arrangements, any local authority notices that affect it and alterations that have been made to the home.
This information will be useful for buyers before they decide whether to submit an offer to purchase a home. The Property Questionnaire will also reduce the risk of delay and difficulties in conveyancing.
Energy Performance Certificates
Since January 4, 2009, all EU member States have an obligation under the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) to promote improvement in the energy performance of new and existing buildings.
This means there will be a requirement to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to any prospective buyer or tenant of a property when it is either sold or rented out.
What is an Energy Performance Certificate?
An EPC is a document which states the energy efficiency of a building based on the standardised way the building is used and provides the building owner with a number of ways in which the efficiency could be improved.
Will this apply to all properties?
This requirement applies to all property types (both dwellings and non-dwellings) which are on the market at January 4, 2009. Dwellings sold and subject to a 'Home Report' after December 1, 2008, will have an EPC provided as part of the document package, and there will be no need to take further action.
However, even if the property is not subject to a Home Report, an EPC will usually be required.
Who can provide an EPC?
More information on EPCs can be found on the Scottish Building Standards website.
Home Report FAQ for Sellers
- What documents are included in the Home Report?
- The Home Report will include a Single Survey, an Energy Report and a Property Questionnaire.
- Who will compile a Home Report?
- The Home Report will be compiled by the seller's agent or the seller. A chartered surveyor or other provider (approved by Scottish Ministers) will provide the Single Survey and Energy Report. The seller of the house will normally complete the Property Questionnaire.
- I am a private seller, and do not plan on using a solicitor or estate agent to market my house. Do I need a Home Report?
- Yes, under Part 3 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, a person who is responsible for marketing a house must provide a Home Report to any prospective purchasers. To do this you will need to commission a chartered surveyor (or approved provider) to carry out the Single Survey and Energy Report. You must also complete a Property Questionnaire.
- Are there any circumstances where I do not need to provide a Home Report?
- Generally speaking, if you market your house for sale you must obtain a Home Report. There are certain limited exceptions where a Home Report need not be provided, and your Solicitor will be able to advise you as to whether any of these exceptions or exemptions may apply to your sale. For example, an agreement between individuals to buy/sell a property where the house has not been exposed to the market, can avoid the need for a Home Report, though an Energy Performance Certificate would still have to be provided by the Seller to the Buyer.
In general, however, properties which are occupied as residential homes will require a Home Report before they are brought to the market.
In General, a Home Report, once the property is marketed, must be provided to any prospective purchaser. The only circumstances where a seller might decline to provide a Home Report to a purchaser is where:-
1. The seller (or their agents) have a reasonable cause to believe that the person making the request for the Home Report either
(a) Is unlikely to have sufficient means to buy the house;
(b) Is not genuinely interested in buying the house, or
(c) Is not a person to whom the seller is likely to be prepared to sell the house (though this does not allow any seller to discriminate on grounds such as race).
In practice, it would not be in the interests of a seller to decline to provide a Home Report to a prospective purchaser and in the vast majority of cases requests will be met with the provision of a Home Report.
- Who pays for the Home Report?
- The seller is responsible for providing the Home Report. There is nothing in the legislation which requires a buyer to reimburse the seller for the cost of the Home Report. In practice, the seller almost always meets the cost of the Home Report.
- How much will a Home Report cost?
- The cost of a Single Survey and Energy Report will be set by individual surveying firms and will vary according to the size of the house. Sellers may wish to consider quotes from different providers before making a decision. There should be very little, if any, costs associated with the Property Questionnaire if it is completed by the seller of the home.
- How 'old' can the Home Report documents be when the house is put on the market for sale?
- The legislation says that the documents should be no more than 12 weeks old when the house is put on the market.
- Will the Home Report have a specified shelf life? (i.e. should sellers have to pay for "refreshed surveys" if their houses have not sold after a few months?)
- Whilst the legislation does not import a set shelf life or "validity period" for any of the Home Report documents, in practice, these Reports do have a shelf life of around twelve weeks. Decisions as to whether any aspect of the Home Report may require to be updated at any point, are decisions for sellers, buyers and their professional advisors to take. In general, it is not practice to update or refresh a Home Report on a property as a matter of routine, but only when an acceptable Offer is received for the property. The "refresher" will only normally be required if the Offer is received more than twelve weeks after the original Valuation/Survey has been carried out.
- How will I pay for the Home Report?
- This is a matter you should discuss with your Solicitor. There are a variety of ways in which Home Reports can be paid for, including the use of Deferred Credit Agreements.
- What happens if the Single Survey identifies a significant problem with the condition of the house such as dry or wet rot? Does the seller have to rectify the problem?
- That is a decision for the seller. The seller may choose to rectify the problem or may for other reasons, market the house immediately. There is nothing in the legislation forcing the seller down one particular route. From the Single Survey report, the seller will at least be aware that there is a problem and have the option to decide what to do about it.
Home Report FAQ for Buyers
- How can buyers receive a copy Home Report?
- A Buyer should ask whoever is advertising the house for sale for a copy Home Report. This is usually an estate agent/solicitor, but could be another business or individual.
- Will it cost buyers anything to obtain a copy Home Report?
- No, buyers will receive a Home Report free of charge, although they may have to pay a reasonable charge to cover the costs of copying and postage. If the seller isn't using an estate agent/solicitor, the buyer should be able to get a Home Report directly from the seller.
- How quickly must a seller or their agent comply with a request by a prospective buyer for a copy of any or all of the Home Report documents?
- A person responsible for marketing a house must provide a copy of any or all of the documents within 9 working days of the request being made.
- If I buy the house, do I have to pay the seller back for the cost of the Home Report?
- This is a matter between the buyer and seller. There is nothing is the legislation that insists that the buyer of the house should reimburse the seller for the cost of the Home Report. In practice, the seller pays for the Report.
- Are Home Reports required across Scotland?
- Yes. All houses marketed for sale in Scotland will require a Home Report, with only a few exceptions. Your Solicitor can advise you as to these exceptions.
- What can buyers do if a Home Report is not provided?
- Buyers should receive a Home Report within 9 working days of requesting it. Sellers may refuse to provide a copy in certain limited cases. These are where the seller believes that the person making the request (a) could not afford the house, (b) is not really interested in buying the house or (c) is not a person to whom the seller would wish to sell the house (but this does not allow them to unlawfully discriminate against someone) If a buyer believes that they are being denied a copy of the Home Report unlawfully, local authority trading standards officers are responsible for enforcement of these duties.