Trading Standards says agents must include more “material information” in property details even if this may not be a wholly positive point for the home in question.
James Munro - lead officer at the National Association of Estate and Letting Agents Team - has told the National Association of Estate Agents that it was common to find only cursory details which he said were insufficient in providing the buyer with appropriate information on which to make an informed decision.
He gave the example of a London apartment which had photographs but few details other than a waiver indicating that the photographs were only indicative.
Munro insists property details (on agents’ own websites, on hard copy brochures and on portals) should include:
- the location or address of the property;
- physical or structural characteristics plus the form of construction;
- specifics on the accommodation including measurements or sizes;
- the availability and nature of services, specifically electricity, gas, water, telephone line and broadband as appropriate;
- the price or rent;
- the council tax band; and for properties on sale...
On the point of tenure if the property was leasehold the details should contain the length of any lease; the amount of any ground rent or premium and the frequency of any review; details of any service or maintenance charge or liability for common areas; and the frequency of any ground rent or service charge review.
Munro says commonhold properties are obviously relatively rare but for these, details should include a list of the rights and obligations of members of the ‘commonhold association’ for the block; any sums payable for the upkeep o the property; and a note of where details of the commonhold association (such as directors, accounts and so on) can be found.
Covenants and rights of way should also be listed in outline.
In many cases, he says, material information could also include the flooding history of the property; in the future, it is possible that pollution information may also be considered material, although he accepted this was not the case now.