The Property Ombudsman has warned that agents who fail to disclose tenure terms are in breach of Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs) and backed calls for portals to do more to ensure leasehold details are included on listings.
The warning comes after the National Leasehold Campaign (NLC) wrote to Rightmove to complain that users are unable to search for properties by tenure such as freehold, commonhold or leasehold and called for it to be mandatory for agents to include these details in listings.
Rightmove said agents have the option to add this information but the NLC said this should be mandatory.
Katie Kendrick, founder of the NLC, said: “This information is vital when searching for a property and should not be optional.
“I guess the question is, does the tenure put people off?
“Of course it does, but they shouldn’t be allowed to not submit this information because of this.
“Getting such information to be mandatory would be a step in the right direction for advertising properties adequately to give consumers the choice.”
TPO revealed to EYE that it has had 29 complaints involving tenure since August 2018.
Katrine Sporle, Property Ombudsman, said: “TPO has always maintained that agents must disclose the tenure of a property.
“Those that fail to do so are in breach of the CPRs as well as the Codes of Practice.
“As such, it is already mandatory. We would support the campaign for property portals to ensure that the information is available and accurate.”
David Smith, partner at Anthony Gold Solicitors, said tenure is a relevant issue under the CPR, adding: “Most agents will include it on their written property details and there is little excuse for it not to be on Rightmove upfront.
“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.”
Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark, said: “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.”