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National Trading Standards Representative on Material Information

National Trading Standards Representative on Material Information

Industry Comment Default Author 16th April 2024

In a recent episode of The Home Stretch podcast, Guy Welfare, Investigator at National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team, joined CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals, Iain McKenzie, to provide some clarity on Parts A, B and C of the Disclosure of Material Information regulation.


Iain opens the episode by commenting that there has been constant questions and confusion surrounding the topic of Material Information, and that there are a few simplistic points that everyone in the industry needs to know. Having joined The Guild at their annual conference in London last month, Guy began by introducing himself to the listeners by giving them an insight into his previous experience as a letting agent in Brighton, to which Iain responds, “For me, that representation is brilliant, because to have a person that understands the industry, the blood, sweat and tears, that has dealt with the good customers and the bad customers – that is invaluable. It allows your department to see the other side of the mountain, for a little bit of balance and perspective on things.”

The pair then move on to understanding Material Information, with Iain asking Guy exactly what it is by definition. Guy comments, “Material Information is a term that comes from the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations in 2008 and is defined as ‘information which the average consumer needs to make an informed transactional decision.’ It is really important to look at ‘transactional decision’ as not just whether you're looking to buy or sell something, it's also the steps that lead up to that as well. The material information project started long before I was part of the team, with Emma Cook, who created a steering group of industry professionals to try and give some guidance back to people on how they can adhere to the law that's in place .” 

Iain reminds listeners that legislation is in place to improve standards and processes. In agreeance, Guy remarks, “The more consumers know up front, the less wasted time you have. There will be less fall-throughs and less difficult conversations coming further down the line when something comes out in searches that was known beforehand. It's just to make it a much more transparent, smoother process for everyone involved.”

Guy looks back at part A, released in 2022, and parts B and C, updated in November 2023. He says, “Part A is inclusive of council tax banding, domestic rate information, asking price, tenure and deposits for lettings. The main theme of Part A is inescapable costs. It's looking at anything that you might have to pay when you go to look at a property to make sure you can afford it before you even go for a viewing.” He adds, “Part B firstly looks at things like physical characteristics of a property. How an agent chooses to display this is completely up to them. Then we're looking at utilities and parking as well. Part A and part B are things that should be on all listings. Part C is only if it's relevant to the listing, such as building safety, restrictions and rights, flood and erosion risk, planning permission and proposals for development, property, accessibility and adaptations, and whether it's on a coal field or mining area.”

Guy concludes by exclaiming, “It is really important to say that this isn't a new law that we've brought out or a legislation that's been introduced. This is guidance on a pre-existing legislation and there have been cases where people have not given this information and  have gone to private courts, where huge amounts of money have been ordered to pay back. It goes to the redress schemes on a frequent basis where they deal with a lack of upfront and Material Information that can cause huge fines to agents and huge penalties. Try and see this as a positive change as opposed to going, ‘I don't want to do that’, because you will need to adhere at some point. You might as well embrace it in your business from now and start making changes to your procedures and policies to try and embed this in the day-to-day work.” 

To hear this conversation in full and find out how to ensure your agency and staff are disclosing all possible information, listen to the latest episode on The Home Stretch podcast.

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