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New Trading Standards guidance will benefit homeowners but cost more

  • 21/03/2024
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New Trading Standards guidance will benefit homeowners but cost more
Updated guidance from Trading Standards on material information will benefit homeowners but lead to increased costs on fees and searches.

The National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) guidance means that more “material information” needs to be disclosed, including restrictive covenants.

The new guidance has come out in two phases, with part A coming out 18 months ago requiring property listings to include price, council tax band and whether the property is freehold or leasehold. Most estate agents already include this information.

In November last year, parts B and C were announced. Part B relates to information such as details of utility supplies, heating and parking. Part C, which includes material information mentioned above, represents the most drastic change and will mean sellers need to employ a solicitor before they list their property.

Homeowners will also have to carry out environmental and local land charges searches so that details of flood risk, coastal erosion, coalfield mining and relevant planning permissions can be added to the listing.


Trading Standards guidance will be ‘revolution’ in home selling

Simon Nosworthy, head of residential conveyancing at Osbornes Law, said that Trading Standards guidance is a “revolution in the way people sell their homes in the UK”.

He continued: “Beforehand, the onus was on the buyer to carry out environmental and local authority searches, but now this will be on the seller. Effectively, sellers will have to engage with a conveyancing solicitor before they list their property and not when they have received an offer.

“This means that if a homeowner lists their property and fails to sell it, they will have already spent a decent amount of money on fees and searches. Overall, this could mean homeowners spending hundreds of pounds more.”

Nosworthy added: “While the guidance was announced in November, it appears that the NTSELAT is allowing time for estate agents to be trained before being enforced. Additionally, very few consumers know about this, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be made to gather this information on their home in the coming months.

“However, it still remains to be seen what the housing platforms like Rightmove do about the guidance and if they make estate agents list this information.

“While it may be seen as an arduous hurdle for those selling a home, it is good news for buyers and should ensure the whole process is smoother. It also has the added benefit of meaning there will be no nasty shocks down the line for buyers.”


Guidance will make all property market players ‘do things a bit differently’

Under current legislation, which is set out in the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, estate and letting agents have a legal obligation not to omit material information consumers on property listings.

However, the NTSELAT said that current practices around disclosures are “not consistent across the industry”.

The NTSELAT said that it was working with property portals and the industry more widely to ensure material information is available on property listings so buyers can make “informed decisions” and agents can meet “legal requirements” from the start of the homebuying journey.

James Munro, senior manager of the NTSELAT, said: “Of all the decisions we take in our lives, deciding where we live is undeniably one of the most important. It can have a profound impact on our health, happiness and wellbeing – and buying or renting a home is one of the biggest purchasing decisions we will ever make.

“That’s why it’s important to work towards a future where more material information about a property is available earlier in the buying, selling and renting process.”

He continued: “The recent guidance will prompt all players in the property market to do things a bit differently, and sellers may find that bringing conveyancers on board at the outset helps ensure all information is available for marketing, and issues with things like restrictive covenants or boundaries can be addressed earlier.

“For buyers, a better understanding of why certain information such as a property’s tenure is important will enable them to make informed decisions when they embark on a property search.

“Efforts to improve the provision of material information have been worked on for some time and change has been long overdue. The progress that’s been made in recent months has been widely welcomed and I’ve been encouraged by the overwhelming positive response the new guidance has received.”

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