Your guide to Part A of the material information rules for property listings
National Trading Standards has published guidance for letting agents and landlords on complying with Part A of the process to improve material information in property listings.
The National Trading Standards (NTS) has published guidance to ensure letting agents and landlords are meeting their requirements under Part A of the three-phase process to improve material information in property listings. Part A of this process covers information considered material when advertising properties for let, which includes the rent, deposit, and council tax band or property rates information in Northern Ireland. This information has been required on property listings since May 2022.
What is material information for a property listing?
Material information is any information "which would impact the decision that a consumer makes in relation to the property, such as arranging a viewing, putting in an offer to rent and proceed with any other aspect of the process", according to the NST's guidance. "Material information can be positive or negative in nature and you should not avoid including information on a listing because you think it will deter interest or take longer to secure an offer."
What happens if I don't disclose material information on a property listing?
Material information should be prominently and clearly displayed in the property listing and "should not be hidden, unclear or ambiguous". Letting agents who fail to properly disclose material information could be liable for making “a misleading omission”, which is an offense under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
If you become aware of any listings that do not include the material information covered by Part A, you should update these as soon as possible. However, this does not mean that consumers are prevented from making complaints about incomplete or missing information from property listings, as this is already an established requirement under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
Eventually, NTS' aim is that letting agents and landlords will not be able to list properties on portals without providing the required information.
What material information do letting agents need to provide under Part A?
Council Tax or domestic rates
In England, Scotland, and Wales, listings must include the council tax band. If the rent includes council tax, this should be this information should be included in the listing and the council tax band doesn't need to be displayed separately.
In Northern Ireland, if the tenant is responsible for paying rates, this must be made clear in the listing and the amount they'll be required to pay must be displayed. If the landlord is responsible for paying rates, the guidance also recommends making this clear in the listing.
The rent for the property should be listed as a numerical amount with the time period that it relates to, e.g. per calendar month. If rent is paid monthly, the equivalent weekly rental amount can be shown for information purposes, however, it must be made clear in the listing whether or not the rent can be paid weekly.
The rental amount displayed must reflect the nature of the occupancy and the price per tenancy. For example, in a multi-occupied property, like a student house share that is let on a single tenancy, the overall rental amount for the property should be listed. If you provide a comparative “per person” or “per room” rental amount, it must be clear in the listing what the overall price is when the property is fully occupied.
If a multi-occupied property is rented on a room-by-room basis, then the rental amount per room and associated occupancy should be listed, for example, whether it is a single or double.
If the rent includes bills, the listing should clearly state which bills are included. If the property portal doesn't include a field for this information, this should be included in the free text for the listing.
If a holding deposit is required, you must ensure this is clearly stated on the listing and comply with any specific requirements in the devolved nations that apply in respect of the holding deposit amount, for example, the Tenant Fees Act 2019 in England and the Renting Homes (Fees etc.) (Wales) Act 2019 in Wales.
Just like the requirements for displaying rent, the amount of the holding deposit must reflect the nature of the occupancy. For example, in multi-occupied properties, the total holding deposit for the property should be listed. If you provide a comparative “per person” or “per room” figure, the full amount of the holding deposit must be clear.
If a multi-occupied property is rented on a room-by-room basis, then the amount of the holding deposit per tenancy should be listed.
Security deposit (tenancy deposit)
Details of the security deposit must be included on the listing. You must comply with any specific requirements in the devolved nations that apply in respect of the deposit amount, e.g. Tenant Fees Act 2019 in England.
Just like the requirements for the holding deposit and the rent, the deposit amount displayed must reflect the nature of the occupancy. For example, in a multi-occupied property, the total deposit amount for the property should be listed. If you provide a comparative “per person” or “per room” deposit amount, the full amount of the security deposit must be clear.
If a multi-occupied property is rented on a room-by-room basis, then the deposit amount per tenancy should be listed.
What will Phase B and C include?
Guidance in Part B and Part C will be released in due course. 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.
However, NTS notes that "even without these categories being released, you are still under an obligation to provide all material information in relation to your day-to-day business activities".
This article is intended as a guide only and should not be construed as legal advice. For more information on material information guidelines, visit National Trading Standards.
Want the latest lettings new delivered straight to your inbox every week? Sign up to our mailing list and stay up to date.