New Guidelines: Update from the NTSELATJames Trafford
The National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) announced new guidelines at the end of February that require all property postings to contain the council tax band or rate, price, and tenure (for sales) by the end of May 2022.
A property’s council tax band or rate and the property price and tenure information (for sales) must be included on all property listings by the end of May 2022 and these data fields will start to appear on portals over the coming weeks. These changes represent the first phase of a project by the NTSELAT, in partnership with industry leaders and the UK’s major property portals, to define what constitutes material information for property listings.
One of the first steps toward defining what constitutes basic material knowledge has been taken with this announcement. It is also an important step toward required disclosure of all fundamental material facts, including factors that are unique to each property.
The Property Misdescriptions Act of 1991 governed real estate advertising for many years (PMA). PMA was abolished in 2013 because the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 20081 (CPRs) offered the same level of protection for property buyers and sellers as the PMA. The National Trading Standards ‘Guidance on Property Sales and Lettings’ provides more information on how the CPRs relate to property sales and lettings.
The NTSELAT formed a steering committee comprising several industry players, including redress programmes, property portals, government, and professional groups representing agents, to help firms in the advertising and marketing of property. The group’s goal is to make it easier for agents, software suppliers, and property websites to comply with the CPRs’ legal disclosure obligations by developing a framework for information sharing.
There are three parts to this list, the first of which is Part A, which lays out exactly what should be deemed “material information.” It’s a place to start, and the majority of estate agents are doing just that already.
Part B will be released in the near future and will Information that must be established for all properties. It applies mainly to utilities (and similar), where non-standard features would affect someone’s decision to look any further at that property. Part C 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.
Part A has been in effect since February and now well underway. The relevant data fields started to appear on portals from February 2022. By the end of May 2022, this information will be required as standard on all property listings.
After May deadline, if an agent leaves a field empty, this will be flagged on the listing and will link to advice for consumers on why that information is important and how it may be obtained. 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.
NTSELAT want all material information to be mandatory on property listings once all three phases of the project are complete. At that stage, agents will need to include all the required information before it is listed on a property portal. The Government has reiterated the importance of this project in its recent White Paper, Levelling Up the United Kingdom and signalled that legislation may follow.
Part A material information
Part A material information – of which most agents already comply with – includes:
- Tenure (applicable to sales listings only)
- Disclose as ‘freehold’
- Disclose as ‘leasehold’, and
- Current ground rent and any review period
- Current service charge information and any review period
- Length of lease
- If Shared ownership, disclose
- details of share being sold, and any additional liabilities or obligations
- If Commonhold, disclose
- Details of rights and obligations that apply between the unit holders, and between the unit holders and the commonhold association
- Council Tax (England, Wales & Scotland), or Rates (Northern Ireland) – disclose
- council tax band (E, W & S)
- rates payable (NI)
- Price or Rent For lettings, disclose
- the monthly rent, and
- any deposit payable
For sales, disclose:
- the price expressed as a single amount