So what is ‘Material Information’ and how does this affect the property purchaser?
“The fact that you needed to know was not known at the time the now known need to know was known” (Yes Minister)
Under current legislation, as set out in the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, estate agents are legally obliged not to omit material information from consumers on property listings – but ‘not a lot of people know that’!
To define what constitutes ‘material information’ for property listings, National Trading Standards kicked off last month with ‘Part A’ of a three-phase project: this requires agents to disclose information that, regardless of the outcome, is always considered material for all properties regardless of location. As well as tenure and council tax information, agents are required to quote the price for a property – so no more hiding behind ‘POA’ (price on application) or ‘offers invited’!
Parts B and C are yet to come:
- Part B will require agents to publish details of utilities (where non-standard features would affect someone’s decision to look any further at that property)
- Part C will require agents to publish ‘additional material information that may or may not need to be established, depending on whether the property is affected or impacted by the information’. This applies to properties affected by the issue itself because of, for example, the location of the property – so we assume that the proximity of nearby roads, railways, flight-paths or power lines will have to be made clear.
Trading Standards can be expected to be vigorous in taking action on obvious breaches of their guidelines – caveat property professionals!