Wed 04 Jan 2023
Richard Cleaver, Head of Residential, Shouler & Son, talks about the importance of accuracy when it comes to property particulars.
It will be ten years this year since the Property Misdescriptions Act was repealed.
This anniversary will mean very little to estate agency professionals who aren’t edging towards their middle years and far less to active buyers and sellers in today’s modern housing market.
However, when I entered the property profession just over 25 years ago, the Property Misdescriptions Act of 1991 was the guiding principle when it came to describing houses or land for sale.
It was a criminal offence for an estate agent to make a claim about a property that was untrue or could not be substantiated.
Individuals and firms who transgressed were subject to prosecution.
The Act came about to root out the cowboys of the estate agency profession -those unprofessional rogue traders who, quite blatantly and without shame, misled potential buyers when it came to the marketing of properties for sale.
Estate agency, as a profession and an industry, has come a long way since 1991 and in learning its lessons to exclude the ‘cowboys’.
While the Property Misdescriptions Act was repealed in 2013, the principles, duties and professional practices it enshrined remain covered by two other pieces of legislation.
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs) and the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations (BPRS) both came in to effect in 2008.
Both sets of regulations, in effect, cover the same ground as the 1991 Act.
In addition, codes of practice attached to membership of professional estate agency bodies reinforce agents’ obligations not to make false or misleading claims in any aspect of marketing a property for sale - particularly anything written and published such as particulars or brochures.
Of course, there is room for expression of an estate agent’s personal opinion - such as suggested uses of rooms or judgments about the interiors within the regulations, but opinion will always be obvious and distinct from the ‘bare bones’ details of the property for sale.
No bona fide estate agent is going to risk their own reputation or that of the firm they represent in providing misleading or false information.
Plus, regardless of regulatory frameworks, the best estate agency professionals will always be happy to give their expert opinions and judgment on a property instruction based on knowledge and experience of not just the building itself, but of the house’s place in the market at any one time.
To find out more about Shouler & Son’s full range of residential estate agency services, see shoulers.co.uk/pages/residential-services.