Industry News James Wood 01/12/2023

Trading standards publishes new guidance on property listings

This week, Trading Standards published new guidance for letting agents on the ‘material information’ that should be contained in property listings. Our Head of Policy James Wood explains what you need to know.

The new guidance expands on the guidance for Part A material information published last year, by adding Parts B (information for all properties) and C (information that may be relevant).

The material information is more detailed than typical listings, and agents are expected to verify the information. As a result, landlords should expect their letting agents to require more information before listing a property. 

To ensure your letting can progress without delay, landlords should familiarise themselves with these requirements and gather the information required if necessary.

What is material information?

Material information is defined as “information which the average consumer needs, according to the context, to take an informed transactional decision” under the consumer protection regulations.

This information should include any positive or negative elements that may influence the average consumers decision. 

Which listings should material information be included on?

All residential property listings should include material information, including those on property portals, property agent websites, third-party websites, and printed material.

Where space is limited in the advert, reference should be made to how the consumer may access the information.

Part A material information should be included on the first page of listings. Parts B and C are not required to be included on the first page of listings but should still be prominent and accessible. For online listings, Parts B and C information should be no more than one click away from the main listing.

What is Part A material information?

Part A information is the most important material information and covers the most common elements of a property listing.

The following material information falls under Part A and must be included in the front page of a listing:

•    Rental amount per rental period and details of any bills that are included within the rent;
•    Council tax band and any exemptions that might apply; and
•    The amount of security or holding deposit required.

What is Part B material information?

Part B covers information that the agent should establish for all properties. It will be material information where the information may involve some cost of maintenance or repair, knowingly impact a tenant’s enjoyment of the property, or affect the availability of relevant insurance products.

Part B information that should always be included:

•    The number of bedrooms; 
•    The property type (semi-detached, terrace, flat, etc); and
•    Where the property is located in a larger building, the floor on which it is located.

Part B information that might need to be included:

•    Non-standard electricity, water and sewerage (septic tanks, private water supplies such as wells, etc);
•    The heating supply (particularly whether electrical heating is used or communal heating systems are in place);
•    The broadband supply;
•    Any issues that may affect mobile phone signal; and
•    Whether parking is available.

What is Part C material information?

Part C material information concerns itself with risks to the property condition. Typically, if information is required then it will have either been included in the conveyancing checks prior to purchase, or through communications with the local authority.

These include:

•    Building safety risks (unsafe cladding, presence of asbestos, unsafe flooring, etc)
•    Restrictions and rights (listed building status, restrictive covenants, lease conditions, etc)
•    Flood and erosion risks (whether the property has been flooded recently, whether it has sea defenses, etc)
•    Planning permission and proposals for development that may affect the property
•    Whether the property is in a coalfield or mining area
•    Whether the property has been adapted with things like wet rooms and step-free access. 

Property listings do not have to include this information unless it affects the property being advertised.

What about the EPC?

The energy performance certificate is not considered to be part of the material information but in most cases it must be included at the earliest possible opportunity.

Verifying the information

Letting agents will be expected to verify much of the information contained here. As a result, it may lead to some increased costs or a longer timeframe before the listing is published.

To help mitigate this, landlords should collect as much of this information as possible ahead of requesting the listing. This will help to reduce delays.

James Wood

James Wood Policy Manager

James Wood, LLB, is the NRLA’s Policy Manager. James has provided legally sound advice to thousands of landlords for over 6 years, along with producing the organisation’s guides and documents and training the organisation’s highly rated advice service.

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