Since May 2022 estate and letting agents have been required to provide “material information” when they’re listing a property for sale or rent.
These guidelines are designed to make sure agents provide the necessary details you need to make an informed decision. Let me explain......
The definition of material information
According to The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs), material information is information an average consumer needs within the context of the product, service or, in the case of property, housing.
The scheme was brought about by the National Trading Standards Estate and Lettings Agent Team (NTSELAT).
What is the material information on property listings?
Material information refers to details about a property that could significantly impact a buyer or renters’ decision-making process.
In the past, property listings on portals often lacked essential details leading to potentially being caught off guard by unexpected problems after entering into a transaction.
In response, the NTSELAT now requires property listings to include all essential details, agents must therefore provide all necessary information before listing a property on a portal.
Divided into three stages, below, we’ll explain each to help you understand what they involve:
1. Part A: essential information
Starting from May 2023, property listings must include material information such as the cost to buy or rent the property.
For shared ownership properties, the details of the share being sold, along with any liabilities or obligations, such as additional payment amounts, must also be included.
The listing should also tell you about the council tax, any extra fees like ground rent or service charges, and the purchase price. It’s important to know if the property is freehold (you own it outright) or leasehold (you have a lease from the freeholder).
The rental amount for the property must appear as a numerical figure, and the listing should specify the related period, such as per calendar month. For monthly rent payments, the listing can also show the equivalent weekly rental amount for information. However, if weekly rent payments are not an option, the listing must clearly state this.
The aim is to help you understand the costs and the legal aspects of the property.
2. Part B: property details
From November 2023, agents are required to also list a property’s basic features as part of to include:
The property type (i.e. house or flat) and physical characteristics (i.e. detached or terraced house)
Number types and sizes of rooms
Utilities in use i.e. water, electricity, heating, sewerage and broadband installation
Parking information and any known costs or issues in obtaining permits or accessing car parks. If the property lacks dedicated parking, the listing must disclose this.
3. Part C: additional considerations
Sometimes, there is other information you need to know and only if they apply to the property in question.
Any safety concerns (for example, if there’s cladding on the building that’s not safe, or if there’s asbestos),
Restrictions on use – this is information on things that might restrict the use or rights of other people over the property and land. E.g. public right of way access, listed building, conservation area rules,
Flooding or coastal erosion
Planning permission or permitted development – any known proposed developments or recent house extensions that could impact your decision on the property.
Adaptations to the property
Who is responsible for displaying the information?
Anyone advertising residential property in the UK is responsible including estate agents, new home developers and private landlords.
This includes property portals, websites, social media, window cards, printed brochures, and newspaper adverts. Portals will flag any empty fields in the listing alerting consumers to be aware of gaps so they can request further details.
How accurate is material information on a property listing?
Property websites now must display the date when someone last checked the key details about a property. This ‘last verified’ date lets you know how recent and reliable the information is to make sure buyers and renters have the latest information.
What are the benefits?
For anyone buying or renting, these changes are a positive step forward.
Firstly, you get clearer information, with all important details upfront therefore, you get a better understanding of a property with less need for extra questions further down the line.
Secondly, this change aims to speed up transactions. Having more accurate information up front means it should reduce the risk of materially relevant information coming to your attention during conveyancing or once you’ve moved in.
Lastly, it seeks to build greater trust in the process of buying, selling, and renting a property.
Knowing that this is a legal requirement should give you confidence that you know more about a property you’re considering viewing.
If you’re preparing to sell or rent a property and feel confused about material information and your obligations, don’t panic! look for an experienced agent who will be able to assist you. Such as me!
You can call on 01209 711118 / 07968 641892 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org