National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) has today published its opinion*, developed with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), that the use of ‘POA’ or ‘price on application’ in property listings (principally sales listings) contravenes consumer protection legislation.
NTSELAT’s opinion is that the use of ‘POA’ or ‘price on application’ in relation to a listing on a property portal or an agent website is likely to be misleading as it withholds – or in some cases masks – the asking price from consumers. The property’s price is information which the average consumer needs in order to make an informed transactional decision, such as to make enquiries about the property, conduct further research or arrange a viewing.
Senior Manager of the NTS Estate and Letting Agency Team, James Munro, said:
“I am pleased to be able to provide a clear position that the use of ‘POA’ or ‘price on application’ in property listings is unlawful. I am grateful to colleagues, the CMA and legal experts** for their input and we hope this clarity will be helpful for property portals and agents as they prepare their listings. This position will form part of our general industry advice and guidance moving forward.”
NTSELAT was asked by industry to provide a view on the use of POA as part of the ongoing process to improve the disclosure of material information on property listings.
An overview of the broader programme of work by NTSELAT, in partnership with industry, to define what constitutes material information for property listingscan be found here. For general information about agents’ obligations under the Consumer Protection Regulations (CPRs), guidance for property sales and lettings is available here.
Notes to Editors
For more information, please contact the National Trading Standards press office at
email@example.com or on 020 7101 5013
* You can read the opinion paper here.
**As well as NTS’ legal team, advice was received from barrister Lee Reynolds in December 2020
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (legislation.gov.uk) (CPRs) control unfair practices used by traders when dealing with consumers, and create criminal offences for traders that breach them. The Regulations prohibit unfair commercial practices and set out the criteria on the basis of which practices are to be classified as being unfair, including being misleading by action or omission. Commercial practices are misleading by omission if, taking into account the circumstances of the commercial practice and the medium used to communicate it, they omit, hide, disguise or delay material information so as to cause the average consumer to make a transactional decision that they would not otherwise have made.
About the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team
NTSELAT protects consumers and businesses by enforcing the Estate Agents Act (1979) and the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
Funded by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC); letting agency regulation (covering England) is led by Bristol City Council and estate agency enforcement (across the UK) is operated from Powys County Council. The team works closely with local authorities who have local enforcement responsibilities.
The team is primarily responsible for the regulation of estate agency work in the UK and letting agency work in England, specifically:
- overseeing the operation of relevant estate and letting agency legislation
- issuing prohibition and formal warning orders to those found unfit to engage in estate agency work in the UK
- approving & overseeing the UK’s consumer redress schemes, Ombudsmen, and Alternative Dispute Resolution entities in the estate agency sector
- issuing guidance and advice for the public, businesses and enforcement authorities on estate agency work in the UK and relevant letting agency work in England.
About National Trading Standards
National Trading Standards delivers national and regional consumer protection enforcement. Its Board is made up of senior and experienced heads of local government trading standards from around England and Wales with an independent Chair. Its purpose is to protect consumers and safeguard legitimate businesses by tackling serious national and regional consumer protection issues. Agreements are in place with regional Trading Standards groups in Scotland and Northern Ireland to reflect the Estate & Letting Agency team’s remit which extends to the whole of the UK.