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Agent Alert - Trading Standards new guidance on To Let wording

The National Trading Standards Estate and Lettings Agency Team has issued new guidance on terminology used in property advertising - particularly lettings.

The team says the guidance is designed to provide clarity and consistency for agents and consumers and improve standards across the industry and is principally based on the application of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

Emma Cooke, policy and information manager at NTSELAT, says: “Agents commonly use terms like ‘new on the market’, ‘new instruction’, ‘under offer’, ‘sale/let agreed’, ‘sold/let subject to contract’ in advertisements, marketing boards and on property portal listings. 


“Delays in updating a property’s listing status or use of incorrect descriptions can lead to frustration for all involved in the buying or renting process – as well as risking agents breaching industry codes and their legal obligations.

“This updated guidance is intended to provide consistency and clarity and – by providing a working definition – we hope this helps reduce unnecessary confusion for property agents, consumers, and other organisations in the property industry.” 

There are three specific lettings-centric terms that the guidance focuses on.

Under Offer - NTSELAT says: “A property where an offer has been received which is under consideration by the landlord, but the property is normally still on the market, i.e., further offers may be made dependent upon the landlord’s written instructions. This description should only be used until the offer is accepted or declined.”

Let Agreed - NTSELAT says: “A property where a landlord has, in principle, agreed to enter into a rental agreement4 with a prospective renter, subject to further checks and referencing. The use of this term is not subject to a relevant person having received a holding deposit from the prospective renter.”

Let - “A property where a landlord and renter have entered into a binding rental agreement.”

For lettings AND sales together, the new guidance looks at other terms:

New On The Market - NTSELAT says: “A property that has not been advertised since the last sale or let of that property. This description should only be used for short period of time.

New Instruction - NTSELAT says: “A property where an agent has recently been instructed to market (and which may have been offered for sale by another agent without being sold or let); the description should only be used for a short period of time.”

New and Exclusive - “A property that is either a new instruction or new on the market which is exclusive to that agent or portal (depending on the context). The description ‘new’ should only be used for a short period of time, although the term ‘exclusive’ can be used for as long as it is applicable.”

New Method of Sale/Let - “A property that is now being advertised for sale or let using an alternative mechanism to the original advert (e.g., changing to an auction or sealed bid for a property sale). This description should only be used for a short period of time.”

Reduced - “A property that has been recently reduced in price. Any reduction should be a genuine reduction against the previous price, in accordance with the Chartered Trading Standards Institute’s ‘Guidance for Traders on Pricing Practices’.”

For other sales-only references made in the NTSELAT guidance, and the full note that it has released, check here

  • Matthew Payne

    Education piece then, a great many agents use Under Offer to demonstrate that an offer has been accepted.


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