Online guides for estate and letting agents have been published on a new Government-backed website, business.companion.info.
The website states that the advice has been written by expert contributors under the guidance of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.
However, some agents may not agree with all of the advice, particularly that regarding Consumer Protection Regulations (CPRs).
One guide says that if a property has an unpleasant view on one side, then agents may not need to mention it.
It reads: “If a house has open fields on three sides and a builder’s yard or nightclub on the fourth, the safest option is not to refer to the outlook.
“If you said that it was surrounded by views across open fields, you would mislead unless you made equal reference to the view on the fourth side.”
However, the guide then seems to contradict itself, continuing: “If the fourth side was of such importance to a consumer that it could affect his decision to buy, it may be a misleading omission not to mention it.”
Mike Day, a compliance expert, gives his view: “It looks as if someone has taken advice that would have been appropriate under the old Property Misdescriptions Act (PMA), whereby effectively only statements made were covered and has applied that.
“Basically, under the PMA, provided your statement was factual and didn’t imply something else, no problem. The CPRs, however, go much further and an omission is an offence if felt to be misleading.
“My basic approach to this is to ask oneself, if the information given, or not given, would affect your decision to transact (view, offer, buy, etc.), then it should be disclosed.”
Day concludes: “While there is still a degree of subjectivity, I think the average consumer (as described in the Regulations) would see living next door to a nightclub as something they would want to know about.”1
The guides also advise agents that “new instructions” should be listed as such, “for only a short period (we would suggest a month)”.
The guides detail what, where and how agents sell.
They also cover the new Consumer Rights Act, due to be implemented on 1st October, which includes rules regarding digital content.
Further subjects included in the guides include:
- Property descriptions
- Displaying fees
- Safety of rental properties
- Consumer contracts, pricing and the sale and supply of goods
- Information on when to offer a refund, repair or replacement
- Aggressive selling, misleading descriptions and advertising
- Use of membership logos, online reviews and endorsements
- Alternative dispute resolutions
The estate agent guides can be found here: http://www.businesscompanion.info/en/quick-guides/services/estate-agents-property-descriptions
The guide for letting agents is here: http://www.businesscompanion.info/en/quick-guides/services/letting-agents-display-of-fees