From 1 October 2013, the government has repealed the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 ("the Act"). The consultation which led to this change in the law took place almost three years ago, analysing the overlap between the Act and the protection offered by the consumer trading regulations - namely the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
The 2008 Regulations were introduced in order to implement a European Directive and require businesses not to mislead consumers through acts or omissions or subject them to aggressive commercial practices. The powers available to trading standards officers under the 2008 Regulations are broadly similar to those under the Act. Government therefore concluded that the duplication between the Act and the 2008 Regulations placed an unnecessary regulatory burden on businesses without giving any additional protection to consumers.
In preparation for the repeal of the Act, the Office of Fair Trading has already published guidance (in September 2012) on applying the 2008 Regulations to the buying and selling of property. The guidance also covers the application of the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008, which prohibit businesses from engaging in misleading in activities in their dealings with other businesses. This guidance should be kept to hand by anyone involved with selling UK property, especially estate agents, auctioneers and developers and can be found here.
For more information please contact Emma Humphreys, Partner