The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 require property agents to comply with obligations to include material information in property listings. The National Trading Standards Estates and Lettings Agency Team (“NTSELAT”) has been working with industry leaders and UK major property portals on a phased plan to provide clarity around disclosure of material information on property particulars for sales and lettings, writes Sarah Webster, Partner & Head of Agriculture and Rural Business, Furley Page.
In February, it was announced that certain information should be considered ‘material’ and contained within property particulars for sales and lettings. Part A provides that from May 2022 certain information should be included in property listings. Guidance published this month is available on the National Trading Standard’s website.
What information needs to be included for sales listings?
Council Tax Band
The seller should know this and it can be checked online.
Sometimes the council tax band may be due to increase after alterations. An agent should check with the seller if there have been any significant changes to the property which may affect the council tax band and this should be noted on the particulars.
If a property is exempt from council tax, this should be noted. Some exemptions relate to the occupation and use of the property, and so the exemption may not be permanent. If this is the case then the reason for the exemption should be disclosed.
In the case of new builds, the tax band may not be known at the point of listing. This should be clearly stated. If council tax rates become available later, the listing should be updated.
The purchase price should be stated as a numerical amount on the property particulars. A price range can be advertised as long as it is a true and accurate reflection of the property valuation and not just an attempt to increase the interest in the property. The NTSELAT believes that the use of ‘price on application’ (or POA) in a listing breaches consumer protection legislation and is unlawful. In the case of new developments where the price is not known, it is acceptable to advertise without the price, but as soon as the price is known the listing should be updated.
The tenure of the property must be included. The main types of tenure are freehold, leasehold and commonhold. There may be other aspects that need to be considered, for example a managed freehold where a freehold property has common areas which are managed on behalf of all the properties. In these circumstances there are usually estate management fees to be paid and potential buyers need to be aware of the financial contributions that may be required.
With leasehold properties, it is possible that the seller may own a share of the freehold and again this should be noted, together with service charge information. The length of the lease should also be stated.
In the case of shared ownership, this should be clearly stated on the listing, including details of the share being sold and any additional liabilities, payments or obligations.
What information needs to be included
Council Tax Band
The same principles noted above apply.
This should be listed as a numerical amount and connected to a time period, for example per calendar month or weekly. It should also be noted whether the rent includes bills and, if so, which. The nature of the occupancy and the price for tenancy of the occupied property should be detailed. For example, for a house share the overall rental amount of the property should be listed.
If a security deposit is required on lettings, details must be included. If the letting is not the type of residential tenancy which the consumer would expect, for example, an AST, then it must be made clear what kind of tenancy it would be and any consequences that may arise.
Any listings with missing information will be highlighted, but at the time of writing property adverts can continue to be uploaded, with material information required being added when available. This will not always be the case; at a date yet to be decided, listings without the minimum information will not be allowed to be uploaded, which will delay marketing.
While the guidance is primarily applicable to residential property, commercial properties are governed by similar regulations in the form of the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008, so you should consider the impact of this guidance in relation to any commercial listings.