Is your property listing complete? Are you sure?
People searching for a property to rent might have some idea of the key things they need to know before deciding to view or proceed with a tenancy application. Similarly, most letting agents and landlords (we sincerely hope) understand that there is information that should always be clear in any listing – the property’s EPC rating and council tax band, for example.
Now, though, the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) has published its full list of what it views as material information, and there’s a lot more to it than the basics.
It’s not clear yet what will happen if this information isn’t provided to prospective renters. What’s more, it does look as though there will be a grace period before any action is taken against agents failing to comply. But it’s always worth remembering that breaching Consumer Protection Regulations is a criminal offence. It can lead to a warning or prohibition order under the Estate Agents Act 1979. What’s more, agents may be subject to complaints made by consumers to their redress scheme.
A burden or a benefit?
It would be easy to see the information requirements as an extra admin burden. After all, agents are already dealing with plenty of complications. However, providing this extra information could give agents an advantage. NTSELAT believes that by enabling prospective tenants to make well-informed decisions at the outset, agents will save time and money. For example, there’s little point showing a tenant around a property that has no broadband connectivity if the prospective tenant works from home.
The lists are also expected to reduce the number of transactions and tenancies that are affected by disputes and legal issues. If everything is clear at the outset, better decisions can be made.
The full list of material information
A few crucial details to remember before we look at the list in more detail:
- Material information should be verified.
- It should be clearly displayed in the listing.
- The EPC rating should always be included unless there is an exemption.
The list itself has been divided into three parts: A, B and C.
Part A – This is considered material information for all properties
- Council tax banding – along with any indication if this is due to change
- Rent – shown as a clear numerical figure and relevant time (i.e. only show weekly rent if weekly payments are acceptable)
- Should state if rent is inclusive of bills
- Details of any security deposit
- Details of any holding deposit required.
Part B – This info should be established but not necessarily stated
- Accurate description of property type – e.g. detached
- If it’s a flat, include the floor number
- Construction materials should be listed if they can affect the enjoyment of a tenant or the property’s insurability
- Number and type of rooms
- Details of any rooms affected by shape – e.g. a sloping roof
- The nature of utility supplies – e.g. meters
- Any sewage arrangements – e.g. Main sewer system or septic tank
- Heating supply
- Broadband supply
- Mobile signal
Part C – This info is required if the property is impacted by the issue in question
- Any known building issues
- Any lease restrictions – e.g. no pets
- Rights and easements that will affect the tenant – e.g. a right of way across land
- Flood risk – when there is one
- Coastal erosion – where there is some present
- Planning permission if it impacts the tenant
- Property adaptations – e.g. a wet room
- Known issues with coalfield/mining where this can affect the tenant.
Some of the items, particularly those on Part C of the list, may need the input of qualified professionals, but much of this information is readily available and non-contentious. It’s simply a matter of getting into the habit of running through a list and asking the relevant questions. If the information isn’t available, then a reason should be given on the listing.
We believe you can make this work for you. Having verified information to hand is reassuring for tenants and it demonstrates your professional and responsible approach. A tiny bit of extra effort upfront, which will soon feel second nature, and you could be making significant savings in time and effort later.