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What is material information for a property listing?

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Material information for a property listing can be both positive and negative in nature, with National Trading Standards stating that “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 the estate agent doesn’t publish or omits to disclose material information on a property listing? 

Breach of the legal obligations has serious consequences ranging from an unlimited fine, a lifetime ban, or even up to 2 years imprisonment.

That’s why the NTSELAT guidance advises estate agents to ask their sellers to contact their conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor at an early stage to prepare the upfront material information pack.

How can conveyancers help the estate agent comply?

By providing and helping the sellers complete their protocol material information property firms.  There are various. Those user by solicitor called Law Society TA6 Property Information Form and TA7 leasehold information forms. Those by BASBI after many years of consultation under the Home Buyers and Sellers Group.  Those forms published by other organisations, including AVRillo conveyancing which is a hybrid of these bringing together in one place questions to answer any other protocol form including TA6, TA7 and Basbi and material information under the Cprs and national trading standards.

The aim of the forms to collate material information upfront before sold subject to contract but at listing stage. 

Firstly, is to allow buyers to make informed decisions on whether to buy a property. Secondly, to reduce time to completion from the average of 5 months, to as low as 40 days. Thirdly, by delay, to reduce the likelihood of the sale and purchase falling through at a later stage, which happens in 39.8% of transactions.

Therefore, Material information should be prominently and clearly displayed in the property listing and “should not be hidden, unclear or ambiguous”. Estate agents who fail to properly disclose material information could be liable for making “a misleading omission”, which is an offence 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. 

Material information included in TA6 Property Information Form

March 2024 saw the announcement by the Law Society of their release of a new TA6 property information form and TA7 leasehold information form that collates material information from the seller to comply with the National Trading Standards material information guidance.

Why have the TA6 and TA7 been updated? The updated TA6 and TA7 form incorporate questions to extract the information the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) clarifies should be disclosed on property listings in its material information in property listings (sales) guidance. This National Trading Standards material information guidance is designed to interpret the words ‘material information’ to be disclosed upfront under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs). This requirement is on the estate agent to publish, not omitted or hide, or provide late, all material information before a property is listed, is put on the market. The material information includes everything about a property in marketing the estate agents’ brochures, other written materials, on their websites or property portals such as OnTheMarket, Zoopla, or Rightmove. This is a legal obligation to allow buyers, consumers, to make informed decisions on where to view, put an offer in or buy the property.

About the changes The fifth edition of the TA6 Property Information Form is published as a form but in parts 1 and 2:

  • Part 1 gathers key details for estate agents to advertise a property effectively. This info will also come in handy for solicitors and conveyancers during the property selling process.
  • Part 2 asks for more in-depth information that might be needed to complete the sale.

Here’s what’s new in the TA6 Property Information Form:

  • Property basics like its unique ID number and the council tax category it falls under.
  • Ownership details such as if the property is fully owned, leased, shared, or under a commonhold agreement, along with any related costs like ground rent.
  • Parking specifics, including if you need a permit or if there’s a charging point for electric vehicles.
  • A rundown on the property’s condition, highlighting any problems or repairs needed.
  • Info on any rules that limit how you can use the property.
  • Flood risk and if the coast is eroding nearby, which could affect the property.
  • Features that make the property easier to get around in, for those with access needs.
  • Whether the property has any history of or current issues with mining.
  • Details about solar panels and how they’re set up, which might interest buyers or lenders.
  • Updates on the property’s heating and water systems, now also covering air and ground heat pumps.
  • Questions about the property’s sewage system, like where wastewater goes and if there’s a special system

Using the updated law society ta6 and ta7 forms

The forms were released by the law society in March 2024, to their  suppliers, who will be updating their systems in the next few weeks, and to be used by conveyancing solicitors by June 2024. 

Material information included in other firms such aw the BASBI Protocol Form and AVrillo material information and exchange ready pack. 

What do all these forms do?

Whether BASBI, ta6 or ta7 or the avrillo upfront material information form and exchange ready pack is used, they all serve as a critical tool for estate agents and conveyancers to ensure the estate comply with the National Trading Standards’ Material Information guidelines, which in turn comply with Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs). 

What do these forms aim to do, which is the most useful? 

Key Features of the Protocol Forms:

  1. Comprehensive Data Collection: The form is structured to gather all relevant material information about a property, including but not limited to tenure, price, council tax band/rates, any special conditions (like flood risks or building safety concerns), and necessary legal disclosures. This ensures that all parties have access to the same detailed property data from the outset.
  2. Guidance on Disclosure Requirements: they refer, to various degrees, what constitutes material information, aiding estate agents in identifying which details must be disclosed to avoid misleading omissions.
  3. Enhanced Transparency: By requiring the disclosure of comprehensive property details, the forms enhances transparency in the estate market. Buyers receive crucial information early in their decision-making process, enabling informed choices and reducing the likelihood of disputes or transaction failures.
  4. Risk Mitigation: For estate agents and solicitors, using the form reduces the risk of non-compliance with the CPRs. By following the form’s structure, professionals can ensure they are meeting their legal obligations, thus avoiding potential fines, legal action, or damage to reputation.
  5. Facilitates Early Legal Involvement: The form encourages estate agents to involve solicitors or conveyancers early in the listing process. Early legal involvement ensures that any complex material information, such as leasehold details or restrictive covenants, is accurately reported, further reducing the risk of transaction delays or collapses.
  6. Supports Consumer Protection: Ultimately, the Protocol Forms supports the overarching goal of consumer protection by ensuring buyers have access to all material information before making a commitment. This aligns with the aims of the National Trading Standards by fostering a fair, transparent, and trustworthy estate market.

The ‘Avrillo material information forms’ and ‘exchange ready pack’ takes it a step further with intelligently coded interactive forms and automatic data collection of material information, in the 103 days during listing, updating material information, republishing these for all buyers in PDF and web versions, finding solutions, title checking, including Land Registry and Local Search Local Land Charges Register, and as it’s all upfront before the seller accepts an offer, it aims to use material information to the full outcome effectiveness of completing in 40 days.

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