Your trusted property experts

What is Material Information?

Author avatar
Share Share article to LinkedIn Share article to Twitter Share article to Facebook

Since May 2022 estate and letting agents have been required to provide “material information” when they’re listing a property for sale or rent. These guidelines are designed to make sure agents provide all the necessary details of a home. Helping you make a well-informed decision when buying, renting, or selling a property. Here, we’ve got everything there is to know about material information and what it means for you! 

The definition of material information

According to The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs), material information is information an average consumer needs within the context of the product, service or, in the case of property, housing. 

The scheme was brought about by the National Trading Standards Estate and Lettings Agent Team (NTSELAT). 

Ultimate Guide to Material Information

What is the material information on property listings?

Material information refers to crucial details about a property that could significantly impact a buyer or renters’ decision-making process.

In the past, property listings on portals often lacked essential details. Leading to potential buyers or renters being caught off guard by unexpected problems after entering into a transaction.

For instance, consider a situation where a buyer purchases a home, not realising it’s a leasehold property because this wasn’t clearly stated in the listing. This lack of information can lead to the deal falling apart later in the buying process.

In response to such situations, the NTSELAT now requires all property listings to include all essential details. This means agents must provide all necessary information before listing a property on a portal.

This crucial information is divided into three stages. Below, we’ll explain each stage in detail to help you understand what they involve:

1. Part A: essential information

Starting from May 2023, property listings must include material information such as the cost to buy or rent the property.

For shared ownership properties, the details of the share being sold, along with any liabilities or obligations, such as additional payment amounts, must also be included.

The listing should also tell you about the council tax, any extra fees like ground rent or service charges, and the purchase price. It’s important to know if the property is freehold (you own it outright) or leasehold (you have a lease from the freeholder). For properties on sale, listings will show the current owner’s details. For rentals, they will inform you about the required deposit amount.

The rental amount for the property must appear as a numerical figure, and the listing should specify the related period, such as per calendar month. For monthly rent payments, the listing can also show the equivalent weekly rental amount for information. However, if weekly rent payments are not an option, the listing must clearly state this.

The aim is to help you understand upfront the main costs and the legal aspects of the property.

2. Part B: property details

From November 2023, agents are required to also list a property’s basic features as part of the material information. This includes:

  • The property type (i.e. house or flat) and physical characteristics (i.e. detached or terraced house)
  • Number types and sizes of rooms
  • Utilities in use i.e. water, electricity, heating, sewerage, broadband installation type, and mobile signal.
  • Parking information and any known costs or issues in obtaining permits or accessing car parks. If the property lacks dedicated parking, the listing must disclose this.

This helps you in knowing exactly what the property has to offer.

3. Part C: additional considerations

Sometimes, there are other aspects that you need to know. Listings must include the following details only if they apply to the property in question.

  • Any safety concerns (for example, if there’s cladding on the building that’s not safe, or if there’s asbestos),
  • Restrictions on use – this is information on things that might restrict the use or rights of other people over the property and land. E.g. public right of way access, listed building, conservation area rules, 
  • Flooding or coastal erosion
  • Planning permission or permitted development – any known proposed developments or recent house extensions that could impact your decision on the property.
  • Adaptions to the property
  • If a coalfield or mining area

Which property listings should have this included?

All residential property listings must feature material information.

This means any home listed for sale or to rent qualifies. Estate agents should also include the necessary details on their websites and in all property advertisements.

Who is responsible for displaying the information?  

Anyone advertising residential property in the UK is responsible for displaying material information. This includes estate agents, new home developers and private landlords.

All property advertisements must include this information. This includes property portals, websites, social media, window cards, printed brochures, and newspaper adverts. Portals will flag any empty fields in the listing. Alerting consumers to be aware of gaps so they can request further details from the agent.

As a consumer, you can complain if an agent hasn’t shared relevant information with you.

How accurate is material information on a property listing?

Property websites now must display the date when someone last checked the key details about a property. This ‘last verified’ date lets you know how recent and reliable the information is. It’s a way to make sure buyers and renters have the latest information. This requirement motivates estate agents to regularly update their listings, ensuring you receive accurate and current information.

However, it seems that not all property listings are meeting these new standards. A recent study by a conveyancing group found that only 16% of listings are fully following these rules. The main problem seems to be with the software estate agents use to manage their properties. According to a survey by the Conveyancing Association, some of this software isn’t collecting all the necessary information properly. Which means the listings aren’t as detailed as they should be to meet the NTSELAT requirements.

What are the benefits?

For anyone buying or renting, these changes are a positive step forward.

Firstly, you get clearer information, with all important details upfront. Therefore, you get a better understanding of a property with less need for extra questions further down the line.

Secondly, this change aims to speed up transactions. Having more accurate information up front means it should reduce the risk of materially relevant information coming to your attention during conveyancing or once you’ve moved in.

Lastly, it seeks to build greater trust in the process of buying, selling, and renting a property. Knowing that this is a legal requirement should give us confidence we know more about a property we’re considering viewing.

If you’re preparing to sell or rent a property and feel confused about material information and your obligations, don’t worry. Propertymark, actively involved with trading standards in this rollout, has fully updated all its member agents on the necessary requirements. So, look for your local Propertymark agent who will be able to assist you.

Find Your Agent

Last Updated: December 12th, 2023

Phil Spencer

Join Phil Spencer's 'My Move iQ'

Sign-up for FREE and access

FREE home moving toolkits

Exclusive offers and discounts

FREE tickets to the biggest property and home shows

My Move iQ Competitions

Unlock exclusive benefits

Browse more in this category: