New Trading Standards guidance signals ‘revolution’ when selling a property in the UK

Homeowners could have to spend hundreds of pounds more when selling their home owing to new Trading Standards guidance, a leading conveyancing solicitor has warned.

The National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) guidance means homeowners will have to list a whole range of new ‘material information’ including any restrictive covenants – which prevent homeowners from carrying out certain activities in their home – if the property is listed, if there is a tree preservation order and if there are any rights of way, on their property particulars.

Additionally, homeowners will have to carry out environmental and local land charges searches so that details of flood risk, coastal erosion, coalfield mining and relevant planning permissions can be added to the listing.

The guidance is better news for buyers, however, who will now be able to access all the information upfront before committing to a purchase.

Simon Nosworthy, head of residential conveyancing at Osbornes Law, said:

“This guidance is a revolution in the way people sell their homes in the UK.

“Beforehand the onus was on the buyer to carry out environmental and local authority searches but now this will be on the seller.

“Effectively sellers will have to engage with a conveyancing solicitor before they list their property and not when they have received an offer.

“This means that if a homeowner lists their property and fails to sell it, they will have already spent a decent amount of money on fees and searches.

“Overall, this could mean homeowners spending hundreds of pounds more.”

The release of the new guidance has come in two phases. Around 18 months ago the first part (part A) required property listings to include price, council tax band and whether the property is freehold or leasehold. Most estate agents already included this information.

In November last year two further sections (parts B and C) were announced. Part B relates to information such as details of utility supplies, heating and parking. Part C, which includes material information mentioned above, represents the most drastic change and will mean sellers need to employ a solicitor before they list their property.

James Munro, Senior Manager of the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team, said:

“Of all the decisions we take in our lives, deciding where we live is undeniably one of the most important. `

“It can have a profound impact on our health, happiness and well-being – and buying or renting a home is one of the biggest purchasing decisions we will ever make.

“That’s why it’s important to work towards a future where more material information about a property is available earlier in the buying, selling and renting process.

“The recent guidance will prompt all players in the property market to do things a bit differently, and sellers may find that bringing conveyancers on board at the outset helps ensure all information is available for marketing, and issues with things like restrictive covenants or boundaries can be addressed earlier.

“For buyers, a better understanding of why certain information such as a property’s tenure is important will enable them to make informed decisions when they embark on a property search.

“Efforts to improve the provision of material information have been worked on for some time and change has been long overdue. 

“The progress that’s been made in recent months has been widely welcomed and I’ve been encouraged by the overwhelming positive response the new guidance has received.”

Simon added:

“While the guidance was announced in November it appears that the NTSELAT is allowing time for estate agents to be trained before being enforced.

“Additionally, very few consumers know about this, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be made to gather this information on their home in the coming months.

“However, it still remains to be seen what the housing platforms like Rightmove do about the guidance and if they make estate agents list this information.

“While it may be seen as an arduous hurdle for those selling a home, it is good news for buyers and should ensure the whole process is smoother.

“It also has the added benefit of meaning there will be no nasty shocks down the line for buyers.”


Kindly shared by Osbornes Law