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Latest guide to property listing material information rules

Table of Contents

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The National Trading Standards (NTS) has issued guidance aimed at assisting letting agents and landlords in enhancing the property listing material information in.

This comprehensive guidance was initially launched with Part A in May 2022, which was subsequently complemented by Parts B and C in November 2023. According to the guidance, listings material information must include Part A requirements, such as details on rent, deposit, and council tax or rates, directly within the advertisement.

Meanwhile, the information required under Parts B and C should be readily accessible, not exceeding more than a single click away from the main listing. All rental properties must feature this essential material information across all forms of advertising, including property portals, agency websites, the windows of your business premises, other third-party websites, or any printed materials

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What is material information for property listing?

Material information in a property listing encompasses all the details a letting agent offers that could aid a customer in making an informed decision about a property. This ranges from the initial steps of scheduling a viewing to submitting an offer and encompasses every stage of the rental process.

Understanding that material information can have positive and negative aspects is crucial. According to National Trading Standards, agents should not omit information from listings due to concerns that it might reduce interest or delay the process of securing an offer.

This information’s transparency ensures that potential renters have a comprehensive understanding of what a property offers, enabling them to make decisions based on accurate and complete details.

What do letting agents need to do?

Letting agents must follow a series of essential steps to maintain transparency and accuracy in property listings. These steps include:

  • Actively seeking out material information and specifics about the property: This involves gathering all relevant details that could influence a potential tenant’s decision-making process.
  • Conducting thorough verification checks to confirm the accuracy of the information provided: This could mean consulting the landlord for confirmation, cross-referencing details with HM Land Registry records, or conducting a Local Authority search to verify facts.
  • Promptly updating all property listings and notifying interested parties whenever there’s a change in material information: This includes updating property portals, the agency’s website, and any other platforms where the property has been advertised.

Failing to disclose material information on a property listing can have serious implications. It can lead to potential tenants making uninformed decisions, which could ultimately result in legal repercussions for the letting agent.

Not disclosing material information may be viewed as misleading, potentially breaching consumer protection laws and regulations set by the property industry. This could result in sanctions from regulatory bodies, damage to the agency’s reputation, and the possibility of financial penalties or compensation claims.

Ensuring all material information is disclosed, accurate, and updated is crucial for letting agents avoid these outcomes and maintain trust with their clients.

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What happens if I don’t disclose material information on a property listing?

Material information must be displayed prominently and clearly in property listings, ensuring it is neither hidden, unclear, nor ambiguous. Letting agents who neglect to properly disclose material information risk committing “a misleading omission”, which constitutes an offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. This regulation underscores the importance of full transparency in property listings to protect consumers from misleading practices.

Should you identify any listings lacking the essential material information outlined in Part A, it’s imperative to update them as soon as possible. Nonetheless, this requirement does not inhibit consumers from lodging complaints regarding incomplete or absent information in property listings. Such complaints are valid and recognized under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, highlighting the established expectation for comprehensive disclosure.

The ultimate goal of the National Trading Standards (NTS) is to reach a point where letting agents and landlords are unable to advertise properties on any portal without furnishing all the required information. This initiative aims to enhance the integrity of property listings, ensuring that all potential tenants have access to the full spectrum of material information necessary to make informed decisions.

Should EPC ratings be included on property listings?

To stay compliant, Trading Standards highlights that letting agents must include all Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings in a property listing unless the property is exempt from this requirement. This ensures potential tenants are informed about the energy efficiency and environmental impact of the property they are considering.

What material information do letting agents need to provide in the listing under Part A?

Council Tax or domestic rates

  • In England, Scotland, and Wales: Listings must display the Council Tax band. Should the rental price include Council Tax, this detail must be explicitly stated in the listing. In such cases, it’s not necessary to display the Council Tax band separately.
  • In Northern Ireland: When tenants are liable for paying domestic rates, listings must clearly indicate this responsibility, along with the amount they are expected to pay. Conversely, if the landlord is responsible for paying domestic rates, the listing should also clarify this.

These guidelines ensure that potential tenants understand their financial obligations beyond rent, enabling them to make more informed decisions when considering a rental property.

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Rent

The rent for a property must be clearly stated as a numerical figure alongside the corresponding period, for example, per calendar month. If the rent is typically paid on a monthly basis, you may also provide the equivalent weekly rental figure for informational purposes. However, it is essential to clarify whether weekly payments are an option in the listing.

The displayed rental amount should accurately represent the nature of the occupancy and the price per tenancy agreement. For instance, the total rental cost for the entire property should be listed in properties with multiple occupants, such as student house shares let under a single tenancy agreement. Should the listing offer a comparative price per individual or room, the total price for full occupancy must also be clearly indicated.

The listing should specify the rental cost per room and the type of occupancy allowed (e.g., single or double occupancy) for properties rented on a room-by-room basis.

Moreover, if the rental price includes any utility bills, this information must be explicitly stated within the listing. If the property portal lacks a specific field for this detail, it should be included within the free text section of the listing. This approach ensures potential tenants comprehensively understand what their rent covers, enabling them to make well-informed decisions.

Holding deposit

When a holding deposit is necessary for a property, this must be prominently disclosed in the listing. Additionally, compliance with the specific legislative requirements of the devolved nations concerning the holding deposit amount is crucial. This includes adherence to the Tenant Fees Act 2019 in England and the Renting Homes (Fees, etc.) (Wales) Act 2019 in Wales, which regulates the handling and amounts of such deposits.

Similar to how rent details are presented, the holding deposit amount must accurately reflect the occupancy arrangement. In cases of properties with multiple occupants under a single tenancy agreement, such as student accommodations, the total holding deposit for the entire property should be specified. If the listing offers a breakdown of the holding deposit on a “per person” or “per room” basis, it must also clearly state the aggregate holding deposit required when the property is at full occupancy.

For properties that are leased on a room-by-room basis, the listing should clearly outline the holding deposit amount required for each separate tenancy agreement. This transparency ensures potential tenants are fully aware of the financial commitments involved from the outset, facilitating a clearer understanding of the tenancy terms.

Security deposit (tenancy deposit)

The inclusion of security deposit details in the listing is mandatory. It’s also essential to adhere to the specific legislative requirements concerning deposit amounts in the devolved nations, such as the Tenant Fees Act 2019 in England, which sets clear guidelines on how security deposits should be handled.

Similar to the rules surrounding the presentation of rent and holding deposit amounts, the security deposit amount must accurately reflect the property’s occupancy terms. In cases of properties with multiple occupants under a single tenancy agreement, the total security deposit for the entire property should be clearly stated. If the listing provides a breakdown of the security deposit on a “per person” or “per room” basis, it must also clearly articulate the total security deposit required for full occupancy.

For properties rented on a room-by-room basis, the listing should specify the security deposit amount required for each individual tenancy. This clarity ensures potential tenants are fully informed of the financial requirements associated with securing and maintaining their tenancy, promoting transparency and trust in the letting process.

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Part A: Essential Information

Category Description
Rent Rent amount and period (e.g., per calendar month). If included, also specify if the rent includes council tax or other bills.
Council Tax/Domestic Rates In England, Scotland, and Wales, include the council tax band. In Northern Ireland, indicate if the tenant pays rates and the amount.
Holding Deposit State if a holding deposit is required, its amount, and any specific legal requirements.
Security Deposit Include details of the security deposit and comply with specific legal requirements.

What material information do letting agents need to provide in the listing under Part B?

Part B of the material information requirements focuses on aspects of properties that often require maintenance, repair, or specific insurance coverage. It emphasizes the importance of providing potential tenants with a comprehensive understanding of a property’s physical characteristics.

Physical characteristics of a property

  • Type of Property: A clear and accurate description of the property type should be provided. This means specifying whether the property is a house, flat, bungalow, or another type of dwelling. If the property is an apartment, the listing should also indicate on which floor it is situated.
  • Construction Materials: The materials used in the construction of the property should be outlined. While detailed descriptions can be helpful, high-quality photographs that accurately represent the property’s construction and materials are also crucial. This visual representation aids tenants in gaining a thorough understanding of the property’s structure and aesthetic.

These details are essential as they give potential tenants insight into the property’s layout, structure, and potential maintenance or insurance considerations. Providing this information upfront helps in setting realistic expectations and contributes to a smoother tenancy process.

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The number and type(s) of room

The listing must include the number and types of rooms within the property, as this information is critical for potential tenants to understand the space and layout. Trading Standards suggests that floor plans are a more effective method of conveying this information than written measurements, as they provide a clearer visual representation of the property’s layout, including the location and size of each room. Additionally, floor plans can more easily illustrate areas within rooms that may be impacted by structural features such as eaves, which could affect the usable space.

It’s also important to consider that local authorities may have varying definitions of what constitutes a “bedroom.” This means when listing a room as a bedroom, the classification should align with the local standards and definitions. This attention to detail ensures that the information provided is accurate and compliant with local regulations, helping to avoid misunderstandings or misrepresentations about the property.

Utilities

Clarifying whether bills are included in the rental payment is crucial for potential tenants. While it’s not mandatory, certain details become significantly important, especially if the property lacks a connection to mains supplies. These details should be transparently communicated in the property listing:

  • Electricity Supply: An accurate description of the electricity supply should be provided, detailing whether the property is connected to the national grid or relies on alternative sources.
  • Water Supply: Information on the water supply, including whether it is metered or not, should be made clear. This is particularly important for budgeting purposes and understanding the property’s water source.
  • Sewerage: The nature of the sewerage system should be described. If the property uses septic tanks or cesspits, it should be indicated whether the tenant or landlord is responsible for the emptying and maintenance costs.
  • Heating: A detailed description of the property’s heating system is essential. This includes how the heating is charged, whether the tenant can choose the provider or control the heating system, and the type of heating installed.
  • Broadband: The broadband situation should be addressed, including whether there is an exclusive supplier, particularly common in new build estates, or if there is no broadband infrastructure at all. This information can significantly influence a tenant’s decision.
  • Mobile Signal and Coverage: Any known issues with mobile signal and coverage should be disclosed. This can affect tenants who rely on mobile connectivity for work or personal communication.

Providing these details helps ensure tenants comprehensively understand the property’s utilities and services, allowing for an informed decision-making process.

Parking

A property listing must transparently disclose the parking situation. This includes clearly stating if parking is available, the types of parking options offered, and any necessary details that potential tenants need to know. Essential parking information to include in the listing comprises:

  • Availability of Parking: Indicate whether the property has parking facilities and the nature of these facilities (e.g., off-street parking, dedicated parking space, garage).
  • Parking Permit Requirements: If parking requires a permit, the listing should inform potential tenants about the need to obtain a parking permit, including any costs associated with acquiring one.
  • Location of Parking: The parking area’s proximity to the property should be described. This information is crucial for tenants to assess convenience and accessibility.
  • Disabled Parking Spaces: If the property offers parking spaces designated for disabled users, this should be clearly mentioned. This information is vital for tenants who require such facilities due to mobility issues or disabilities.

Including comprehensive parking details in the property listing helps ensure that potential tenants are fully informed about the parking arrangements, allowing them to consider this aspect when making their rental decisions.

Part B: Physical and Functional Characteristics

Category Description
Type of Property Specify whether it’s a house, flat, etc., and the floor if it’s an apartment.
Construction Materials Outline materials used in construction, supported by good photography.
Number and Types of Rooms List the number and types of rooms, including floor plans to show room sizes and shapes.
Bills Included Clearly state which bills (if any) are included in the rent.
Parking Details Detail the availability of parking, any permit requirements, and the parking location relative to the property.

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What material information do letting agents need to provide in the listing under Part C?

Part C of the material information requirements delves into specifics that might be relevant based on the unique circumstances or characteristics of a property. Letting agents are advised to seek expert guidance when necessary to ensure the accuracy and relevance of the information provided.

Key areas of focus under Part C include:

  • Building Safety: This encompasses any issues that could compromise the safety of the occupants, such as unsafe cladding materials, structural integrity risks, inadequate emergency lighting, or insufficient fire and smoke alarm systems.
  • Restrictions and Rights: This category covers any legal or practical restrictions affecting the property, including leasehold restrictions, real burdens (specific to Scotland), restrictive covenants, policies on pet ownership, and the tenant’s ability to conduct a business from the premises.
  • Flood and Erosion Risk: Information should be provided on any known flood history within the past five years, sources of flooding risk, frequency of such events, and any known risk of coastal or other forms of erosion impacting the property.
  • Planning Permission and Development Proposals: Details of any current or upcoming planning permissions or development proposals that could affect the property or its use should be disclosed.
  • Property Accessibility and Adaptations: Listings should detail any features that enhance the property’s accessibility, such as step-free access or level access showers, catering to individuals with mobility issues or disabilities.
  • Coalfield or Mining Area: Indicating whether the property is located in an area with historical or active mining, which could influence insurance premiums or pose potential subsidence risks, is important.

Part C: Additional Considerations

Category Description
Building Safety Information on unsafe cladding, structural risks, emergency lighting, fire/smoke alarms.
Restrictions and Rights Lease restrictions, real burdens, restrictive covenants, pet policies, business use.
Flood and Erosion Risk Flood history, sources and frequency of flooding, coastal erosion risks.
Planning Permission and Proposals Current or upcoming planning permissions or development proposals affecting the property.
Property Accessibility and Adaptations Step-free access, level access showers, and other accessibility features.
Coalfield or Mining Area If the property is in a coalfield or mining area, affecting insurance or subsidence risk.

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Conclusion

Letting agents must thoroughly investigate and disclose these details, as they can significantly impact a tenant’s decision-making process and quality of life in the property. This guide aims to provide an overview, but consulting with legal or professional experts for specific advice tailored to each property’s circumstances is essential. Visiting the National Trading Standards Guide Page is recommended for more comprehensive information on material information guidelines.

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