New Rules to Clarify Property Listings

The government is to bring in new rules to the property market in order to provide consumers with essential information and to standardise the way properties are advertised. The changes form part of a project by the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team and are due to come into effect by the end of May. National Trading Standards have come up with the new rules in consultation with property portals Rightmove and Zoopla, as well as industry experts including the UK Association of Letting Agents and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

The rules mean that all property listings in estate agents’ branches or online must in future include “material information” relating to a property, such as council tax band, property price and tenure. Listings must highlight any instance where this information is absent and advise consumers where missing details may be found. Two additional phases of the programme are being planned, which will include information on restrictive covenants, flood risk, ground rent, service charges and any other factors affecting the property concerned. Monthly rent and the deposit amount will be required information for rental properties.

The project has been developed in response to requests by estate and letting agents to clarify the information which should be included as standard when bringing a property to the market. Once these rules have been introduced estate agents anticipate a reduction in unnecessary enquiries, as well as quicker sales and fewer failed transactions. A survey of over 300 agents found that 91% were in favour of a list of essential basic property information in advertisements. Once all three phases of the project are complete, National Trading Standards expects that disclosing all material information on a property listing will be made mandatory.

James Munro, Senior Manager of the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team, said: “This represents an important milestone in the journey to improve material information on property listings. I’m delighted with the progress that has been made with the industry to help define and clarify what constitutes material information and I am grateful to the property portals and other industry leaders who have supported this work”.

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