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Estate agents could face severe penalties over failure to disclose material information under newly published requirements

Under UK Law, Estate Agents are required to, among other things, carry out rigorous anti-money laundering checks, conduct customer due diligence, maintain accurate records and report suspicious activity. There are increasingly stringent compliance obligations and regulations being placed on estate agents which, if not adhered to, could result in severe penalties such as civil or criminal sanctions being imposed.

One such set of obligations was published last week by National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT). The comprehensive new guidance covers the process to improve material information disclosure in property sales on the 30th November 2023.

James Munro, Senior Manager at NTSELAT commented that “since the introduction of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations in 2008, all businesses in the UK have been under a legal duty not to omit or hide information which is material to a consumer’s transactional decision”.

He added that “by adopting this guidance, property agents will help to improve the home buying and renting process. This will lead to more informed customers, fewer complaints, and ultimately greater trust and compliance in the industry and those who work in it”.


What does the new guidance contain?


The new guidance comes as a result of NTSELAT establishing a steering group in 2020 made up of various industry stakeholders to improve the provision of material information in property listings. Part of this process involves creating a framework of information disclosure to help agents to comply with the legal requirements of the Consumer Protection Regulations (CPR).

The framework is broken down into 3 parts – parts A, B and C:

Part A involves disclosing material information about unavoidable costs such as Council Tax, sale price, tenure and rent and service charges. Information relating to Part A was required as standard on all property listings from the end of May 2022.

Parts B & C were launched on 30th November 2023 and set out new requirements for agents regarding the information that should be supplied to potential buyers of a property.

Part B will cover information that applies to every property such as availability of utilities to the property, the availability of parking and restrictions to mobile coverage and broadband.

Part C will include additional information that may or may not apply to a property such as flood risk, whether the building is in a conservation area and rights or restrictions affecting the property.


What are the agents' responsibilities regarding Material Information?


The new guidance from NTSELAT states that:

a. Property agents should ensure that they proactively request material information to create the property particulars. Verification checks should also be carried out on the information that is provided to ensure that it is accurate (e.g., obtaining title information to confirm ownership, or verifying with local knowledge).

b. The material information should be prominently and clearly displayed in the property listing and should not be hidden, unclear or ambiguous as any of these failures could cause liability for a misleading omission which is a criminal offence under the CPRs.

c. It is also an offence to provide material information in an untimely manner; property listings should be updated, and interested parties informed, as soon as possible when material information becomes known or has changed - including on property portals, an agent’s own website, and any property particulars.

Property information questionnaires (PIQs) (e.g., the Law Society’s TA6 form, the Home Buying and Selling Group BASPI, or the Propertymark PIQ) can be used to request the details needed to list the property. If an agent has their own questionnaires, then current documentation should be reviewed to ensure that material information is being obtained prior to the property being listed.

d. The published guidance also recommends that “property agents take steps to ensure their clients are identified as the person or people with the right(s) to sell the property. This might be achieved by checking clients’ identification against the property title or deeds, or by checking relevant lease agreements or contracts.


How can we help?


Our online portal uses the latest technology and provides you with a user-friendly, secure, fast and cost-effective online solution to obtaining the information and documentation to assist with your compliance requirements.


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More information regarding the new guidance can be found here - Material Information - National Trading Standards

Richard Joy
  • Director
  • Solicitor
  • Head of Residential Property

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