New Trading Standards rules

Published: 20/02/2024

You're not alone if you think the way homes are advertised needs a jolly good shake-up, and that's exactly what's happening with the new trading standards rules.

From buyers and sellers to estate agents and solicitors, everybody involved in moving home wants a more reliable experience with fewer wasted viewings, faster transactions and minimal fall-throughs.

That was the message when National Trading Standards surveyed 1000 recent or hopeful home movers back in 2021, with the following results:

  • 90% wanted essential property information displayed on portals before committing to viewing.
  • 54% were less likely to buy or rent a property where information was missing.
  • 41% assume that missing information means a property has something wrong with it.
On top of that, 335 property professionals were surveyed, and 91% wanted a defined list of material information to provide on every listing.

Well, now we have one, so let's explore all the extra information needed to put your home on the market, and how you can benefit from the new rules.


WHAT DO THE NEW TRADING STANDARDS RULES MEAN?
Just as food nutrition labels make it easier to decide if something goes in your basket or stays on the shelf, the new trading standards will transform the amount of upfront information available to buyers.

This means anyone searching for a home can expect:

  • Greater clarity and consistency across all estate agents on their websites, portal listings, printed property details and window displays.
  • Deeper information about the quirks and qualities of every home, from geographical data and construction materials to utility connections and broadband speed.
  • New data fields on the portals to highlight any incomplete information and a link to clarify whatever is missing.
All the new rules will fall under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, and the government has indicated they could also become legislation as part of the Leveling Up agenda.


MONEY MATTERS
In case you missed it, the first raft of new rules from Trading Standards (known as Part A) came into force way back in 2022.

These cover the unavoidable costs of buying and owning a particular property, and every listing must now include:

  • The price expressed as a number (‘Price on Application’ is no longer legal) along with any buying fees payable to an agent or auctioneer.
  • Council tax bands and, for properties with a commercial element, business rates (for instance, live-work homes or shops with residential accommodation above).
  • Tenure information, from straightforward freeholds to the number of years remaining on a lease, along with any associated service charges, management fees and ground rent.
In short, the new rules are designed to remove the obstacles to someone knowing the price of a property in the first place, and whether they can afford the ongoing costs of maintenance.


RISKS, RESTRICTIONS AND RIGHTS OF WAY
As well as displaying the cost, accommodation and features of your home, Part C of the new trading standards requires extra information to be disclosed for a property affected by any of the following:

  • Conservation areas, listed building status or tree preservation orders that could restrict or undo a buyer’s plans around maintenance, improvements and extensions.
  • Easements like public rights of way across a property's land or shared driveways to garages.
  • Risks from geographical locations like flood plains, coastal erosion or mining areas, or around building safety issues including unsafe cladding, asbestos and danger of collapse.
  • Nearby planning permissions in case they’ll limit access or change the character, appeal and noise levels of a neighbourhood.
Don’t worry if this sounds like a lot. We can retrieve most of this information very quickly online, and, as you’ll see in the next section, your solicitor can also be a great help when instructed early enough.


HOW TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE NEW TRADING STANDARDS RULES

Ultimately, all the extra details needed when your home goes up for sale are the information your buyer’s solicitor will eventually ask for.

With that in mind, you can use the new rules to your advantage by getting your sale contract-ready from the very start, by:

  • Instructing a solicitor as soon as your home goes on the market, and ask your friends, family and estate agent for recommendations, rather than picking the cheapest option from the internet.
  • Asking your solicitor for the property information forms so you can complete them with all the information you've gathered, along with any certificates and warranties.
  • Getting a local authority search carried out, which can take many weeks, so you can pass it on to your buyer when the legal work begins.
All of this can be a huge timesaver in how long it takes to exchange contracts, which means the next exciting chapter of your life can begin even sooner.


What’s your next step?
If you’re planning to sell your home in or around Berkhamsted or Tring, we’d love to hear from you. Call us for a chat with one of our team, and let's get your move off to a flying start.

Berkhamsted office: 01442 863000
Tring office: 01442 820420