Guidance for estate agents
Information for people who are working as an estate agent - what you must do to meet your legal obligations.
Supplementary guidance - material information under CPRs
The National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team, hosted by Powys County Council, is the lead enforcement authority in the UK for the Estate Agents Act 1979 ('the Act'). One of the team's responsibilities is to provide information and advice regarding estate agency work.
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) require all businesses to disclose material information about products or services they are marketing to consumers. Material information is that which the average consumer needs in order to make an informed transactional decision. This can be particularly challenging for estate agents since every property is unique and will be affected by various social, economic and environmental factors which prospective buyers need to be aware of at the earliest opportunity.
What should be disclosed?
Generally speaking any information which materially affects, or impacts on, the property should be disclosed. This includes the following:
- The price of the property
- The tenure (and where a property is leasehold, the number of years remaining on the lease)
- Existence of any known potential threat to the property (flooding, coastal erosion, mining subsidence etc.)
- Anything which directly impacts the property (nearby planning proposals, rights of way, Japanese Knotweed, under busy flight path etc.)
- Financial commitments binding on the purchaser (ground rent, service charge, Green Deal, leased solar panels etc.)
- Characteristics which may affect development or future enjoyment of the property (listed status, tenure, conservation area, restrictive covenants)
- Notable events at the property or unusual features (recent suicide/murder, vendor is convicted paedophile)
Businesses are under a duty to make reasonable enquiries about such information, e.g. by searching flood risk maps, land registry information, local planning details etc., and by establishing as much as possible from the vendor or their agent. Vendors and their agents should be made aware that they are legally required to disclose material information about a property and not hide or conceal anything which may affect a prospective purchaser's transactional decision.
It is not sufficient to leave the research or discovery of material information to the purchaser or their legal adviser.
When should it be disclosed?
Case law has determined that someone's transactional decision does not simply begin at the shop door or the website home page of a business, but also includes the decision to visit that shop or website. Therefore, material information should be disclosed at the earliest opportunity.
Further guidance on the CPRs as they relate to property sales is available at www.powys.gov.uk/estateagency
Important - please note
Legislation may change over time and the advice given is based on the information available at the time the guidance was produced. It is not necessarily comprehensive and is subject to revision in the light of further information. We accept no legal liability for the information provided. Only the courts can interpret statutory legislation with any authority. This advice is not intended to be a definitive guide to, nor substitute for, the relevant law - independent legal advice should be sought where appropriate. We aim to keep any advice or guidance timely and accurate - if any inaccuracies or omissions are brought to our attention we will try to deal with these as quickly as possible. You can contact the NTS Estate Agency Team at firstname.lastname@example.org