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New Guidelines from Trading Standards Streamline Property Listing Terminology

The National Trading Standards Estate & Letting Agency Team has recently publicised new guidelines concerning the terminology used in property listings. Developed in tandem with key industry stakeholders, this downloadable guide incorporates terms related to lettings.

During the property marketing process, various terms like ‘new on the market’, ‘new instruction’, ‘under offer’, ‘sale/let agreed’, and ‘sold/let subject to contract’ are frequently utilised. These terms, though commonplace on marketing boards, advertisements, and property portal listings, have been a source of confusion for industry professionals and the general public alike. Such misunderstandings can consequently cause unnecessary hold-ups in the home acquisition and rental procedures.

Missteps such as delayed updates or incorrect descriptions could lead agents to inadvertently breach industry codes and legal mandates. While the new guidance doesn’t make the use of the listed terms mandatory, it offers a comprehensive definition for each, facilitating clarity when they are employed.

Legally, agents must ensure that property marketing statuses are precisely portrayed and updated promptly, as these details are crucial for potential buyers and renters. The onus lies with the agent to maintain transparency, clarity, and timeliness for all active advertisements.

Trading Standards’ guidance is geared towards property agents, consumers, and relevant entities like consumer redress schemes, property portals, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), and other regulatory bodies. Its primary aim is to instil uniformity in understanding and using property advertising terms. This advice is particularly pertinent to the promotion of residential properties for sale or rent, drawing primarily from the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

Emma Cooke, Policy & Information Manager, National Trading Standards Estate & Letting Agency Team, says: “Agents commonly use terms like ‘new on the market’, ‘new instruction’, ‘under offer’, ‘sale/let agreed’, ‘sold/let subject to contract’ in advertisements, marketing boards and on property portal listings.

“This updated guidance is intended to provide consistency and clarity and – by providing a working definition – we hope this helps reduce unnecessary confusion for property agents, consumers, and other organisations in the property industry.”

The definition of terms for lettings:

Under Offer: A property where an offer has been received which is under consideration by the landlord, but the property is normally still on the market, i.e., further offers may be made dependent upon the landlord’s written instructions. This description should only be used until the offer is accepted or declined.

Let Agreed: A property where a landlord has, in principle, agreed to enter into a rental agreement with a prospective renter, subject to further checks and referencing.
The use of this term is not subject to a relevant person having received a holding deposit from the prospective renter.

Let: A property where a landlord and renter have entered into a binding rental agreement.

Readers can read the full document here.