1) Your Penalty for Failing to Publish Material Info

Up to 2 years imprisonment, a lifetime ban, or an unlimited fine.

2) Liability has Changed to ‘Estate Agent Beware’ from ‘Buyer Beware’

You are now liable for paying compensation to the buyer and prosecution. On 30th November 2023, all loopholes were closed by the government and Trading Standards (NTSELAT). Estate agents must now publish, upfront, all material information that could influence a buyer’s decision to view, make an offer, or the offer amount. Wasting the buyer’s time, loss of opportunity, or financial loss on progressing on an unsuitable property is now your liability, for which you must compensate them.

3) Any loopholes or excuses?
Is Ignorance of the Law a defence?

No. There are no defences. Parts A, B, and C of the 30-page Trading Standards Guide define 82 pieces of ‘Material Information’ for you to consider publishing or face prosecution.

4) No defence to publishing material info on your case system supplier and portals (including Rightmove, Zoopla, or OnTheMarket).

NTSELAT makes you liable, not them. NTSELAT ask you to upload these manually or face prosecution even if they aren’t ready for automatic uploads.

5) NTSELAT asks you to consult a Conveyancer upfront. 

Even though they recognise you aren’t technical, they still make you liable to publish legal details such as covenants, easements, restrictions, rights of way, planning breaches, and rent charges. Thats why they advise you consult a conveyancer to reduce you being prosecuted. 

6) NTSELAT advises your seller to sign a disclaimer if they don’t also consult a conveyancer before you list their property or you risk paying compensation as well as risk prosecution.

7) Other FAQ’s.

Here’s a series of replies from National Trading Standards (NTS) to our estate agents’ common questions.

Can you rely on your pack provider to just send you office copy title deeds and protocol forms?

No. Trading Standards replied, “our viewpoint is that an agent cannot simply download, print off the title deeds and pass to a prospective buyer”. 

Do you need to read the deeds & material information?

Yes 100%. Trading Standards replied that agents must look for “.. potential issues on the back of any investigations.” E.g. restrictive covenants, flying freehold, restrictions, rights of way, easements, building safety act, short lease, etc. 

Do you need to investigate/ review upfront if you aren’t legally trained?

Yes. Trading Standards replied, “.. someone will review the documents, likely the conveyancer”. 

‘Estate agents are not being asked to become conveyancers” so “.. they should be advising their client (and) prospective buyer should always have been advised to engage with a solicitor (conveyancer) to help them understand ..”

Can you wait to see if a larger estate agent gets prosecuted first.

No. Being a smaller agent is not an excuse. Not having sufficient staff, money or recourses to find and publish information is no defence. The buck stops with the estate agent. Since 30th November 2023, not actively seek out, reviewing, verifying, updating and publishing Material Information risks imprisonment, a mightier ban or an unlimited fine. 

We asked what if the agent says ‘I don’t have time, the recourses or it’s too much for me to do’ or as a smaller agency.

Trading standards replied: “It is a criminal offence to omit material information, to hide material information, to provide material information ambiguously, or to provide material information in an untimely manner. A consumer’s transactional decision can be impacted before, during, or after having entered/concluded a contract. The implications of breaching the CPRs can be serious, not just regarding material information, but any breach of the CPRs. An individual/organisation can be fined an unlimited fine and serve up to 2 years in prison. They can be the subject of a complaint to a redress scheme and face penalties (which, if not paid, they can be expelled from the redress scheme and then are going to be trading illegally because it is a legal requirement to be a member of a redress scheme for engaging in estate agency work in the UK. This would then also open them up to enforcement action by local Trading Standards. They can also issue a prohibition order or a warning order against individuals or businesses – the prohibition order is a lifetime ban from engaging in estate agency work”

Where to find the law?

Click here to view the law making you liable to a fine, imprisonment or an unlimited fine. 

Do Trading Standards provide practical guides?

Yes. Click here to read the Trading Standards Practical Guide on how to comply and click here to read the estate agent saves losing an average £4123 in lost commission and the client losing £1571 in costs on each fall through  

Complete for your Free Material Info Pack