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By David Beaumont

Managing Director, Compliance Matters


Material Information Guidance - Is it Actually Material?

In this, the second of a three-part series, David Beaumont continues his critique of the new Material Information Guidance.

There are 21 areas listed in the guidance that trading standards say are material to buyers or potential tenants or they might be material to them!

I disagree with most of the 21 on the basis that at the role of an estate agent is not to sell the property it is to market the property and given the traditional estate agency model potential buyers do not expect agents to have all the information about each of these 21 areas available. As such the information is not material at that point, given the context.


I also do not believe that some of the areas listed can be seen as material at all.

As an example - where are the stats to show that the lack of information about broadband speeds has generated any complaints or the stats to show that a buyer whose offer was accepted walked away from the purchase after finding out information about broadband speed? My educated guess is that there are none!  This is putting aside the fact that the only information that can be obtained from the sources trading standards want agents to use to provide this so-called material information on speeds, is a hypothetical potential speed for the area.

Rightmove provide broadband information on the portal, but they follow it with a 114-word disclaimer!! Please tell me how it can therefore be material information?

The guidance lists 6 specific pieces of material information that an agent must disclose when marketing a property –

  • Council Tax
  • Asking price/Asking rent
  • Tenure/Deposit requirements
  • Property type
  • Number & types of rooms
  • Parking

The things that stood out from this list is that none of the information listed below was in the list or even mentioned as material information, when most estate agents provide it –

  • The location of the property
  • Room measurements
  • A plan of the property

It then lists 15 specific issues the agent must check and then disclose if they feel the findings are material information.

The first thing you notice when looking at these 15 requirements is that they are exactly the same for estate agents selling a property as they are for letting agents when offering a rental property. I am staggered by that. Every agent in the country will tell you that material information for a tenancy applicant is quite different to the material information for a property purchaser, but not according to trading standards or any of the ‘agent related’ organisations that were on the steering group helping to produce this guidance.

Did no-one actually compare sales particulars to lettings particulars? Did they not know that for all parties the letting process is, and must be, a quick turnaround process and so trying to check and put together this ‘material information is going to delay the process significantly and leave properties empty for longer. This benefits nobody.

Landlords will not be happy if they are advised that marketing cannot begin immediately and they may have to pay additional costs up front.  Prospective tenants will not be happy with the wait and I don’t see how any agent is going to be happy with it!

One other thing that surprised me about the guidance documents was that whilst they both outline the same 15 specific material information areas, the sales guidance outlines common examples in each of the 15 areas, whereas the lettings guidance doesn’t warrant the inclusion of any common examples!  


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