Theresa Wallace, the chair of The Lettings Industry Council, has given her backing to compulsory changes to rental property listings introduced by Trading Standards and the government.
From May a property's council tax band or rate (for lettings and sales) and property price and tenure information (for sales) must be included on all property listings. That is just the first phase of substantial additional information in two additional phases.
This is all an attempt by the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agents Team to define what constitutes ‘material information’ for property listings.
Wallace says: “The material information project is a crucial piece of work to ensure that consumers looking at buying or renting property can make an informed decision earlier in the process.
“The objective is to provide consumers with more information prior to viewing a property. This will be a big change for the industry who have come together to support this initiative and The Lettings Industry Council felt it was important to be a part of a project that can have a real benefit for consumers.”
And the former head of ARLA Propertymark, David Cox - who is now Rightmove’s legal and compliance director - adds: “It’s been really encouraging to see that more than 80 per cent of all property listings on Rightmove now include the tenure of a property; up from 70 per cent last year before we started to encourage more agents to add this information to help with National Trading Standard’s initiative.
“We hope that having an industry-agreed official list of material information will better help agents know exactly all the info they need to add when they’re advertising properties.”
Later parts of this three-phase project includes mandatory information that is considered material, such as restrictive covenants, flood risk and other specific factors that may impact certain properties.
As new data fields for tenure, price and council tax are added to portals, if they are left empty by an agent, this will be flagged on the listing so consumers can see what information is missing. This will link to advice on why that information is important and how it may be obtained.
National Trading Standards wants all material information to be mandatory on property listings once all three phases of the project are complete. At that stage, agents will need to include all the required information before it is listed on a property portal.
A full list of the Part A material information is available on the National Trading Standards website here; this also gives an overview of the type of information that will be included in Parts B and C.
Full guidance for the industry is being developed in conjunction with industry partners to cover all three phases, as well as guidance to support consumers looking to buy, sell or rent a property.