New Guidance for Part A of the Material Information for Residential Properties

Earlier in 2022 the National Trading Standards Estate and Lettings Agency Team (NTSELAT) announced that by the end of May 2022 all residential property listings would need to contain specific material information. This was Part A of a three-phase project to enhance the mandatory information given when a property is listed for either rent or sale. In July 2022 they released a 19 page document giving detailed guidance on Part A of the Material information required. In this guide we will take a closer look at that guidance.

What is Material information?

In this context material information is defined by the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) as “information which the average consumer needs, according to the context, to take an informed transactional decision”. In essence this means that if a consumer did not have this information, they would not be able to make an informed and rational decision making the transaction potentially unfair.

What Material Information must be supplied?

There are subtle differences depending on whether the listing is for a sale or for rent. We will take a look at both

Sales listings

When listing a property for sale the following material information must be supplied:

  • Council tax band for the property. For new builds, this information might not be available if the property is being purchased off plan. If this is the case, this must be clearly shown and the band given at point of sale at the absolute latest
  • Purchase price. This can be a price range as long as that is a true reflection of the property value. The NTSELAT has given a legal opinion on using Price on Application (POA) rather than an actual value. In this opinion, they make it clear that this practice contravenes consumer protection legislation.
  • Tenure – The tenure must be displayed and the types that would be considered acceptable are:
    • Freehold, known as Heritable title in Scotland
    • Leasehold, including shared ownership. In this case the information should also clearly state the remaining term of the lease, any service charges that are applicable and any ground rent payable. For shared ownership the listing must state the share being sold and any additional payments required to the landlord such a rent.
    • Commonhold

Lettings Listings

When it comes to Lettings there are some similarities and the listing must contain:

  • Council tax band. If council tax is included in the rent, then the listing should make this clear
  • Rent payable – this has to be shown as a numerical amount and also show the periodicity of payments, e.g., per week or per calendar month. If bills are included, the listing must clearly show what bills are included. If the listing shows the rent per week for information, but the rent cannot be paid weekly, then this should also be made clear
  • Deposit payable. If a holding deposit is required then this must be made clear in the listing.

All material information must be supplied in a timely manner, ideally at the first drafting of the listing. If this is not possible then this has to be made clear in the listing with reasons why the information is not available. The information must also be clearly and prominently displayed and not be hidden, ambiguous or unclear.

Part B and C

Currently Parts B and C of Material Information for Residential Properties are still being considered. Part B will mainly relate to utilities and similar “where non-standard features would affect someone’s decision to look any further at that property.”

Part C, Trading Standards have described as: “Additional material information that may or may not need to be established, depending on whether the property is affected or impacted by the information. Applies to properties affected by the issue itself because of, for example, the location of the property.”

On their website Trading Standards state that: “The list of material information for Parts B and C is being developed in conjunction with industry partners and full guidance will be available in due course, for all parts.”

These key changes are welcomed throughout the industry as with more information readily available at the listing stage, buyers and renters are able to make more informed decisions, saving time for all parties. If you have questions regarding the new guidance for part A of the Material Information for Residential Properties and would like assistance making sure your property is marketed in accordance with these requirements get in touch with our local property experts, we have branches across the UK.