Property Misdescriptions Act 1991, see http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1991/29/enacted
1 Offence of property misdescription.
(1)Where a false or misleading statement about a prescribed matter is made in the course of an estate agency business or a property development business, otherwise than in providing conveyancing services, the person by whom the business is carried on shall be guilty of an offence under this section.
(2)Where the making of the statement is due to the act or default of an employee the employee shall be guilty of an offence under this section; and the employee may be proceeded against and punished whether or not proceedings are also taken against his employer.
(3)A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—
(a)on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, and
(b)on conviction on indictment, to a fine.
(4)No contract shall be void or unenforceable, and no right of action in civil proceedings in respect of any loss shall arise, by reason only of the commission of an offence under this section.
(5)For the purposes of this section—
(a)“false” means false to a material degree,
(b)a statement is misleading if (though not false) what a reasonable person may be expected to infer from it, or from any omission from it, is false,
(c)a statement may be made by pictures or any other method of signifying meaning as well as by words and, if made by words, may be made orally or in writing,
(d)a prescribed matter is any matter relating to land which is specified in an order made by the Secretary of State,
(e)a statement is made in the course of an estate agency business if (but only if) the making of the statement is a thing done as mentioned in subsection (1) of section 1 of the Estate Agents Act 1979 and that Act either applies to it or would apply to it but for subsection (2)(a) of that section (exception for things done in course of profession by practising solicitor or employee),
(f)a statement is made in the course of a property development business if (but only if) it is made—
(i)in the course of a business (including a business in which the person making the statement is employed) concerned wholly or substantially with the development of land, and
(ii)for the purpose of, or with a view to, disposing of an interest in land consisting of or including a building, or a part of a building, constructed or renovated in the course of the business, and
(g)“conveyancing services” means the preparation of any transfer, conveyance, writ, contract or other document in connection with the disposal or acquisition of an interest in land, and services ancillary to that, but does not include anything done as mentioned in section 1(1)(a) of the Estate Agents Act 1979.
Consumer Code for Home Builders
1.1 Adopting the Code – Breached
Home Builders must comply with the requirements of the Code and have regard to the good practice guidance.
1.2 Making the Code available – Breached
The Home Builder must display the Code and give, without charge, a copy to customers who ask for it and to all Home Buyers who reserve a Home. The Home Builder should also inform their customers that further guidance is available and how they can get this.
1.3 Customer Service – Breached
The Home Builder must have suitable systems and procedures to ensure it can reliably and accurately meet the commitments on service, procedures and information in the Code.
1.4 Appropriately trained customer service staff – Breached or Inadequately trained
The Home Builder must provide suitable training to all staff who deal with Home Buyers about their responsibilities to them and what the Code means for the company and its directors.
1.5 Sales and advertising – Breached
Sales and advertising material and activity must be clear and truthful.
2.1 Pre-purchase information – Mostly Breached
Home Buyers must be given enough pre-purchase information to help them make suitably informed purchasing decisions. – Breached
In all cases this information must include:
- a written Reservation agreement;
- an explanation of the Home Warranty cover; – Breached
- a description of any management services and organisations to which the Home Buyer will be committed and an estimate of their cost. – Breached
Also, if a Home is not yet completed, the information must include:
- a brochure or plan showing the layout, appearance and plot position of the Home; – Breached
- a list of the Home’s contents;
- the standards to which the Home is being built.
2.6 Reservation – Partial Breach
Home Buyers must be given a Reservation agreement that sets out clearly the terms of the
Reservation, including, but not limited to:
- the amount of the Reservation fee;
- what is being sold; – Breached
- the purchase price;
- how and when the Reservation agreement will end; – Breached
- how long the price remains valid;
- the nature and estimated cost of any management services the Home Buyer must pay for. – Breached
The Reservation fee must be reimbursed if the Reservation agreement is cancelled. The
Home Buyer must be told of any deductions that may be made. – Breached
While the Reservation agreement is in force, the Home Builder must not enter into a new
Reservation agreement or sale agreement with another customer on the same Home. – Under Investigation
Consumer Protection Regulations, See: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2008/1277/made
I have highlighted a few sections which I believe Keepmoat Homes are in breach of:
PART 2 PROHIBITIONS
Prohibition of unfair commercial practices
3. (1) Unfair commercial practices are prohibited.
(2) Paragraphs (3) and (4) set out the circumstances when a commercial practice is unfair.
(3) A commercial practice is unfair if—
(a)it contravenes the requirements of professional diligence; and
(b)it materially distorts or is likely to materially distort the economic behaviour of the average consumer with regard to the product.
(4) A commercial practice is unfair if—
(a)it is a misleading action under the provisions of regulation 5;
(b)it is a misleading omission under the provisions of regulation 6;
(c)it is aggressive under the provisions of regulation 7; or
(d)it is listed in Schedule 1.
Prohibition of the promotion of unfair commercial practices
4. The promotion of any unfair commercial practice by a code owner in a code of conduct is prohibited.
5. (1) A commercial practice is a misleading action if it satisfies the conditions in either paragraph (2) or paragraph (3).
(2) A commercial practice satisfies the conditions of this paragraph—
(a)if it contains false information and is therefore untruthful in relation to any of the matters in paragraph (4) or if it or its overall presentation in any way deceives or is likely to deceive the average consumer in relation to any of the matters in that paragraph, even if the information is factually correct; and
(b)it causes or is likely to cause the average consumer to take a transactional decision he would not have taken otherwise.
(3) A commercial practice satisfies the conditions of this paragraph if—
(a)it concerns any marketing of a product (including comparative advertising) which creates confusion with any products, trade marks, trade names or other distinguishing marks of a competitor; or
(b)it concerns any failure by a trader to comply with a commitment contained in a code of conduct which the trader has undertaken to comply with, if—
(i)the trader indicates in a commercial practice that he is bound by that code of conduct, and
(ii)the commitment is firm and capable of being verified and is not aspirational,
and it causes or is likely to cause the average consumer to take a transactional decision he would not have taken otherwise, taking account of its factual context and of all its features and circumstances.
6. (1) A commercial practice is a misleading omission if, in its factual context, taking account of the matters in paragraph (2)—
(a)the commercial practice omits material information,
(b)the commercial practice hides material information,
(c)the commercial practice provides material information in a manner which is unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely, or
(d)the commercial practice fails to identify its commercial intent, unless this is already apparent from the context,
and as a result it causes or is likely to cause the average consumer to take a transactional decision he would not have taken otherwise.
Aggressive commercial practices
7. (1) A commercial practice is aggressive if, in its factual context, taking account of all of its features and circumstances—
(a)it significantly impairs or is likely significantly to impair the average consumer’s freedom of choice or conduct in relation to the product concerned through the use of harassment, coercion or undue influence; and
(b)it thereby causes or is likely to cause him to take a transactional decision he would not have taken otherwise.
(2) In determining whether a commercial practice uses harassment, coercion or undue influence account shall be taken of—
(a)its timing, location, nature or persistence;
(b)the use of threatening or abusive language or behaviour;
(c)the exploitation by the trader of any specific misfortune or circumstance of such gravity as to impair the consumer’s judgment, of which the trader is aware, to influence the consumer’s decision with regard to the product;
(d)any onerous or disproportionate non-contractual barrier imposed by the trader where a consumer wishes to exercise rights under the contract, including rights to terminate a contract or to switch to another product or another trader; and
(e)any threat to take any action which cannot legally be taken.
(3) In this regulation—
(a)“coercion” includes the use of physical force; and
(b)“undue influence” means exploiting a position of power in relation to the consumer so as to apply pressure, even without using or threatening to use physical force, in a way which significantly limits the consumer’s ability to make an informed decision.