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Disclosing property details before the deal is done – what is ‘material information’?

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 obliges Agents not to omit any ‘material information’ on property listings – but what constitutes ‘material information’ has always been somewhat of a grey area. New plans announced by the Government are a move toward improvifsteng this.

National Trading Standards are keenly aware that for most people, the journey to buying or renting a new home is one of the biggest purchasing decisions that a consumer will make in their lifetime, that often begins with an online search on property portals. They go further to acknowledge that,

"for too many, finding out material information about a property after entering into a property transaction can be devastating, causing significant emotional and financial distress." (Material Information - National Trading Standards)

As a result, on the 30th of November 2023 the Government announced a plan to improve on information that is provided to prospective Buyers and Renters at the outset of a transaction, in order to allow them to be better informed before they make any commitment.

In a bid to streamline the moving process, increase transparency and mitigate any last-minute discoveries, the guidance is aimed Sales and Lettings Agents. However, collating the information is likely to need the input of your Conveyancer or Property Solicitor.
It is essential for Sellers to engage a quality Solicitor or Conveyancer as early as possible to help ensure that correct and accurate information is available for the Agent in readiness for marketing the property.

The information comes in 3 parts:

  • Part A mainly relates to sale transactions and covers key information such as the Council Tax Band/ Rate, the price of the property / rental value and the tenure of the property (i.e. whether it is freehold or leasehold), length of the lease, service charges and ground rent.
  • However, Parts B and C are more detailed, with information such as, the type of property and construction materials used, number of rooms, parking arrangements and utility information (Part B) as well as the flood risk level and impact of any restrictive covenants (Part C) being required.

It can be challenging for Sellers to know the level of disclosure that is required, or indeed if their property is affected by covenants or other issues which may be caught by the new guidelines. We would therefore recommend that before any marketing goes live that clients speak to their chosen Solicitor to ensure all the documents can be prepared and to highlight any relevant information. Of course, engaging your Solicitor at this point also means a full Contract pack containing all relevant information can be issued as soon as a suitable buyer is found, minimising delays and reducing the risk of the sale falling through.

If you are concerned about how the new procedures will impact you, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Residential Property Team who will be pleased to assist you.

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