Your guide to the new material information rules for property listings [+ video]

28 April 2022

The rules around the material information that estate and letting agents and landlords need to include in property listings are changing from May 2022.

The National Trading Standards (NTS) has announced changes to rules around the material information letting and estate agents should include in listings through property portals and their own sites from May 2022, with an FAQ on their site.

The government has highlighted the importance of this project in its Levelling Up White Paper, saying that it would legislate on the new rules if necessary - although feedback on the changes from lettings professionals has been generally "positive" according to recent reports.  

What is material information?

Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, estate and lettings agents can't list a property without sharing "material information" with their customers - or important information that tenants or homebuyers need to help them make an informed decision about renting or buying a property.

This can cover many details about the property, such as rent or sale prices, number of bedrooms, or even broadband speed and energy resources.

Keep your agency compliant:  Read our guide to lettings legislation  in the private rented sector 

What are the new rules?

The new rules will be introduced in three stages:

  • Part A covers information that affects the "unavoidable costs" that the tenant or homebuyer will pay once they occupy a property - the tenure information (for a sales listing), council tax band, and price of the property or the rent, including any deposits that may need to be paid.
  • Part B will cover information "established for all properties", such as utilities - which may affect the tenant's decision if it's a "non-standard" system.
  • Part C will cover additional information that may not be applicable for all properties, but should be included if it is. For example, if a property is at risk of flooding due to its location.

Full guidance will be made available "in due course, for all its parts."

Part A is the only part currently in progress. Between February and May 2022, property portals will implement fields to ensure agents and landlords can add the information outlined in part A. 

If agents leave any of the three fields empty, it will be flagged on the listing, with links to advice for the tenant or buyer on why the information is important and how they can get it.

Is it mandatory to include this information?

The NTS aims to create a system ensuring that agents can't list a property through a portal unless these details are added but has highlighted that it won't be mandatory for agents and landlords to complete the fields until all three parts of the new material disclosure rules are completed.

The NTS guidance also states that many of the software companies behind the property portals serve estate and letting agents too, so listings on agency sites should automatically include the new data fields. However, if this is not the case, agents sites will need to include the same information as the portals.

Legislation may follow, if the government believes it's necessary to ensure compliance. However, the NTS has shared that the technical updates made to the portals will mean that "compliance will be the default", as agents will be prompted to make the required changes. 

Why are the rules changing?

The NTS highlights inconsistency in the "practices around disclosure [...] across the industry".

A survey was launched in 2021 to ask agents what they thought should be included as material information in property listings, and 91% of agents agreed that a "defined list of basic material information" would help improve clarity.

The results of that survey were used to create the three stepped approach, outlined below.

Research by the NTS also shows that agents lose £4,123 on average in commission for each property sale that falls through.

Having a clearly defined list of the relevant information that a tenant or home buyer needs to make an informed buying decision upfront can help reduce this risk for all parties involved.

A recent survey by the Conveyancing Association (CA), found that consumers would even be happy to pay for that upfront information to help them with their buying decisions - an additional benefit.

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