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When is a loft conversion not a loft conversion?

27th February 2018

A recent case reviewed by The Property Ombudsman (TPO) resulted in an award of £1000 to a would-be purchaser after the failure of the selling agent to provide the buyer with information relating to a loft conversion.

We have seen a number of TPO decisions cite the need to comply with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs), introduced in 2013 in place of the Properties Misdecriptions Act.

CPRs require estate and lettings agents to establish material information, that is to say information which would influence any decision to put an offer in and buy a property, up front.

In this case, the buyers were specifically interested in a 3 bed property and had made this clear to the agent making it material information. The property in question was a 3 bed property, but one of the bedrooms was a loft conversion. The agent failed to investigate this further and only once a survey was commissioned was it revealed that the loft conversion did not have a building regulation certificate and therefore could not be classed as a bedroom.

Furthermore the surveyor could not confirm whether the conversion had been constructed to the standard required to achieve a certificate. As a result the buyers pulled out seeking recompense for the unnecessary cost incurred explaining that they would not have got as far as putting in an offer had this information been available at the outset.

Given the obvious building work undertaken, TPO felt that further investigation was warranted prior to the property being marketed. The award was reflective of the reimbursement of the survey fee, and a small award to compensate the aggravation, distress and inconvenience caused.

As with all compliance activity, it is important to establish a process for asking the right questions and evidencing your activity. It is important to note that CPRs apply to vendors and landlords as much as they apply to agents and your activity protects them just as much as you.

 

Make sure you are asking the right questions of your clients, and documenting their response. Compliance Packs from Landmark are a simple pay-as-you-go compliance tool to help agents fulfil their obligations under CPRs and AML.

Compliance in a Box includes an electronic property information questionnaire alongside client verification checks and retains a time and date stamped audit trail of all compliance activity.

For more information please complete the form below, or contact Samantha Peacock (sam.peacock@landmark.co.uk) on 01524 220013

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