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By Keith A. Forbes. Disabled, he lives with his wife in the harbour and writes, administers and webmasters this website as a member of the UK's The Society of Authors and an activist for the elderly and disabled
The pages above are the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) and the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 (BPRs). The government took this step to reduce duplicate legislation regulating estate agents and other businesses involved in property sales and lettings. The previous legislation, the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 (PMA), which had made it a criminal offence for estate agents to make false or misleading statements about properties being offered for sale, was repealed on 1 October 2013.
Estate agents and others involved in property sales and lettings should all now know beyond doubt that the 2008 Regulations now offer far more protection to individuals against misleading sales particulars and advertising than was the case earlier.
The CPRs prohibit all traders from using unfair commercial practices in their dealings with individual consumers, and estate agents in particular are prohibited from engaging in commercial practices that are unfair to sellers, buyers, potential sellers or potential buyers of residential property. The BPRs prohibit traders in all sectors, including estate agents, from using misleading practices in their business-to-business advertisements. This includes misleading marketing used to advertise property for sale. While the PMA only covered estate agents, the CPRs and BPRs are much wider in scope covering letting agents and property managers.
The CPRs prohibit misleading actions that cause or are likely to cause the average consumer to take a transactional decision he or she would not have taken otherwise. A transactional decision is not just whether a consumer decides to purchase a property but also includes such things as to whether to view a property in the first place. A misleading action or omission includes omitting to mention any deeds or covenants or restrictions unique to an area such an in Sovereign Harbour with its unique-inthe-world annual estate rentcharge, the covenants it imposes that do not exist aanywhere else in the world and the fact that they include a flood defence charge that no one else in the entire UK has to pay. extra conditions and costs that no other place in the UK or Europe or the world and other factors that nowhere else impose must surely stated upfront to would-be buyers instead of being concealed.
As the CPRs and BPRs have been in force since 2008 there is no excuse for estate agents to ignore them. The Office of Fair Trading has published guidance for estate agents on the new Regulations on what they need to know in applying descriptions on a property. They have been circulated and can be seen at https://www.businesscompanion.info/en/quick-guides/services/estate-agents-property-descriptions. There is also now a specified Code of Practice for all residential Estate Agents and relevant others. See it at https://www.tradingstandards.uk/media/documents/commercial/codes-of-practice/tpo-sales.pdf.
Thus, Estate agents and relevant others selling or leasing or renting properties to consumers need to be particularly careful about how they advertise properties for sale or lettings, and to make sure their particulars on properties are accurate. Describing properties as ‘stunning’, ‘desirable’ or in a ‘quiet area’ now require evidence to back up such statements.
Estate agents and relevant others selling or leasing or renting properties to consumers particulars that contain misleading omissions are also liable by the new Regulations. Agents who do not wish to be in contravention of the new rules and regulations are now expected to make sure they have all their client vendors or landlords check and sign off on the accuracy of their particulars. Agents should also ensure their staff are trained on making certain their particulars and advertising are compliant with the Regulations.
General disclaimers telling buyers not to rely on details are no longer effective, or an excuse, in preventing offences.
Estate agents and other businesses involved in property sales and leasing or letting that breach either the CPRs or BPRs risk prosecution by their local authority trading standards services responsible for enforcement by bringing criminal prosecutions. On conviction, agents can face substantial fines or in more serious cases imprisonment.
Also see local house and flat prices at http://www.home.co.uk/guides/house_prices.htm?location=eastbourne.
By this same author
researched, compiled and website-managed by Keith A. Forbes.
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