Following the release of Material Information Parts B & C, we hosted a webinar to help Estate Agents understand the new rules, how to stay compliant and how to capitalise on it's opportunities.
Material Information Parts B&C - Your questions answered
Following our webinar, ‘Understand Material Information Parts B&C and how to stay compliant’ industry expert Beth Rudolf, Director of Delivery at the Conveyancing Association has taken the time to answer questions received that weren’t answered live during the webinar.
What is the minimum requirement for the Broadband side of the new rules?
Broadband installation type may be available from: https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband
Where a property has an exclusive or dedicated broadband supplier (e.g., on a new build property estate), a property listing should include whether the buyer has the ability to change provider on the open market. Where there is no primary broadband infrastructure/supply, property listings should include other relevant options that allow internet connection (e.g., satellite or mobile). For an indication of specific speeds and supply or coverage in the area, we recommend signposting potential buyers to the Ofcom checker.
How much liability is there on the Seller to provide the correct information when listing and how much do we need to prove/disprove what the Seller says in terms of provenance?
The agent is liable under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs), however, the seller is also liable under the Misrepresentation Act, if there is evidence that they had information that contradicts what they told the agent. Agents can verify information from the seller via a third party e.g. Local Authority.
There are so many new requirements, what are the repercussions if any are missed or we’re not able to get the information, or its simply unavailable?
The repercussions are the same as they are now, if it caused the buyer or potential buyer a loss then they can bring a complaint against the agent. Mismarketing is the second biggest cause of complaints in The Property Ombudsman Scheme (TPOS) report.
What if a buyer wants to offer even if they are aware some of the information is missing?
The buyer is then aware of the offer they are making and that they will have to rely on their conveyancer’s due diligence. They cannot successfully complain so long as the agent states that the information was missing or not up to date.
Can we use a Sprift report to cover all the information required, which I then add onto Rightmove?
Check the contents and the provenance of the contents. If it covers and verifies the information required in the guidance, then that will be ok.
You mentioned using Tech/AI to glean the relevant information from a title. Is this tech available to a panel manager or must it be a regulated person that obtains the information?
An agent can rely on a third party but should do due diligence to ensure that their sources and systems authenticate the provenance of the data to meet the verification requirements.
Would Material Information have to be shown on window cards or online listings only?
The CPRs take account of the limitations of the medium used, such as available space to include all relevant information. For example, a single A4 sized paper advert in a window may have less detailed information than an online advert. However, agents should consider the priority that is given to the material information that is included in communications. Where space is limited, reference should be made to where or how the relevant material information may be found.
How long is the transitional period for the new requirements?
There is no stated date and NTSELAT will consider complaints as they come in. It will take some time for portals to complete the development of their systems, but Estate Agents can add a summary of the Material Information to their property advert as of today.
What if it’s a probate property?
If there is no owner or occupier with the capacity to share the relevant information about the property and this cannot be obtained from another authoritative body, then the agent cannot provide the Material Information for the property.
Is there a comprehensive list of all the factors that relate to Parts B & C that you can share with us?
Below is a condensed summary of the Material Information listed in the NSLEATs guidance document that should be established for property marketing, however it is important to consult the full guidance to ensure you have covered all bases:
Part A: Information that, regardless of outcome, is always considered material for all properties regardless of location.
- Council Tax/Domestic Rates
- Asking Price
Part B: Information that should be established for all properties.
- Property type
- Property construction
- Number and types of room
- Electricity supply
- Water supply
- Mobile signal/coverage
Part C: Information that may or may not need to be established, depending on whether the property is affected or impacted by the issue in question.
- Building safety
- Rights and easements
- Flood risk
- Coastal erosion risk
- Planning permission
- Coalfield or mining area
Where can I get a copy of the guidance that informs agents of what has to be included in their property adverts?
You can find this here: https://www.nationaltradingstandards.uk/work-areas/estate-agency-team/material-information/
Have you got an example of what and how the info should be displayed?
No, NTSELAT did not want to impose a template this is for the estate agent to decide.
What about Shared Ownership sales via Housing Associations?
They are the same as any leasehold and everything will apply plus the equity share being sold and rent to cover the remaining share being retained.
If all of the Material Information about a property should be supplied on the initial listing, are you suggesting that the sellers pay for the searches?
That is your commercial decision. With movebutler, searches are ordered much sooner than the normal process, on solicitor instruction, to help speed up completion. These are paid for by the buyer once the offer is accepted, and as long as the agent is authoritative, there is no push back.
Are you suggesting that we get a search done on instruction before the property goes on the market?
Yes, but the property can be advertised highlighting that the information is incomplete and updated when the search comes in. So long as the search has been ordered you can demonstrate that you are trying to comply.
What happens if an agent is instructed to market a house. The seller doesn’t know of any restrictions or covenants, so we advise them to instruct a solicitor straight away. The agent finds a buyer in a week and 2-3 weeks later the solicitor acting for the vendor finds there are onerous covenants, so the buyer pulls out. What action can the buyer take on the agent?
So long as the agent marks the property information as incomplete and the buyer proceeds on that basis then that is their choice. However, a registered title can be downloaded within minutes so an agent should be able to get the Material Information by the time they get the photos and the floorplan ready to go, potentially with search information to be updated on receipt of the searches which take on average 10 days.
How much of the Material Information has to be displayed on our property adverts?
All the Material Information that applies to that property.
We do come across a lot of properties that are not registered how do we stand with having information available when listing?
If a property is not registered at HMLR the seller’s conveyancer should provide the Material Information summary on title from the unregistered title deeds.