Property agents who fail to disclose tenure terms are in violation of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs), warns The Property Ombudsman (TPO).
In its letter to Rightmove, the National Leasehold Campaign (NLC) is complaining “that users are unable to search for properties by tenure such as freehold, commonhold or leasehold” and is calling for the inclusion of these details in listings by estate agents be made mandatory and not optional as Rightmove claims.
According to NLC founder, Katie Kendrick, “This information is vital when searching for a property and should not be optional.” Also adding that, “Getting such information to be mandatory would be a step in the right direction for advertising properties adequately to give consumers the choice.”
Pointing out that tenure under the CPR is a relevant issue and should be included in Rightmove’s information on property listings, David Smith, partner at Anthony Gold Solicitors says that, “It certainly makes a huge difference to the longer-term property cost. For freehold property there should probably be information as to whether the property is subject to an estate charge as well.”
From Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark: “Anything material that would affect a purchaser’s decision needs to be disclosed at the earliest opportunity under CPR.
The National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team considers tenure of a property to be material and this is reinforced by the Government’s attitude and actions in terms of leasehold properties.”
Under the CPR’s regulations, a commercial practice is deemed unfair if “it affects or tries to affect, a consumer’s ability to make an informed decision about a product”, in this case, a property.
Property Ombudsman, Katrine Sporle says that her office “has always maintained that agents must disclose the tenure of a property.” And that “Those that fail to do so are in breach of the CPRs as well as the Codes of Practice.”
The Ombudsman further states that, “As such, it is already mandatory. We would support the campaign for property portals to ensure that the information is available and accurate.”
There have been 29 recorded complaints regarding tenure since August 2018, according to the TPO.