Zara Liedl Carroll, Sector Representative for the Women in Residential Property Group and Senior Associate Solicitor at Blaser Mills Law, discusses the key upcoming changes to the Property Information Form (form TA6).

Form TA6, also known as the Property Information Form, is a document completed by most sellers at the outset of a residential sale transaction. It is a standardised form containing a list of questions relating to the property being sold and buyer is entitled to rely on the replies supplied in the form. Questions include boundary maintenance, extension works, services, parking arrangements, flooding, energy efficiency and utility providers to name a few. The form is currently on its Fourth Edition and comprises 18 pages of ‘tick box’ questions for a seller to complete.  The TA6 document forms part of the ‘contract pack’ issued to a buyer’s conveyancer and therefore forms a partial basis for the buyer’s conveyancer’s pre-contract enquiries.

An updated form TA6 (Fifth Edition) has now been developed and is due to be implemented from 25th June 2024. The new Edition TA6 form  brings into effect the guidance issued by the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team on material property information that should be disclosed by estate agents on property listings. That guidance sought to establish what a potential homebuyer will want to know about a property before making an informed decision to view a property.  

Buyers, sellers, agents, brokers, conveyancers and other property industry professionals are all too aware of the uncertain nature of a property transaction. Often a transaction, or chain of transactions, falls through following commencement of the conveyancing process.  In theory, a more ‘upfront’ and transparent home buying process from the outset should assist in streamlining the conveyancing process and reduce the number of transactions that abort. Indeed The Law Society President, Nick Emmerson, recently stated “The aim is that having better informed buyers could help reduce both the time the process takes and the number of sales that fall through.”

However, there has been widespread speculation and concern within the conveyancing industry in particular in relation to how the issue of abortive transactions is being ‘tackled’ via the updated TA6 Form. For example:

  • Concern has been expressed that the updated TA6 form has nearly doubled in size, with 32 pages of questions now being asked of the seller.  The increase in questions being asked via the form could result in more time-consuming and lengthy pre-contract enquiries being raised during the conveyancing process which would, in fact, have the opposite effect i.e. draw out the conveyancing process further rather than streamlining timescales.
  • Alarmingly, for conveyancing firms that adopt the Law Society’s Conveyancing Protocol, part 1 of the new TA6 seems at odds with the type of enquiries permitted to be raised by conveyancers (which are generally limited to legal enquiries arising from the contact pack such as the title and searches. It is unclear at this stage whether the Conveyancing’ Protocol will be updated to bring the same in line with the additional questions being asked of a seller in Part 1 of the new TA6 form.
  • The additional questions in Part 1 of the updated TA6 form may pose a heightened risk of a seller being pursued for a misrepresentation claim if a seller has inadvertently provided any incorrect replies. Conveyancers are likely to be obliged to advise the seller on how to answer their TA6 form or verify the accuracy of the seller’s answers, which could potentially result in increased legal costs for sellers as well as additional liability on conveyancers.
  • The Trading Standards and Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 impose a duty of compliance predominantly on estate agents to disclose material information at the marketing stage/before the buyer makes an offer, as opposed to an additional duty placed on a conveyancer to deal with additional pre-contract enquiries during the legal process resulting from the lengthy additions to the form. A seller may therefore find it useful to instruct a conveyancer at the point of marketing a property (in order that queries relating to completing the form can be addressed at an early stage) rather than at the point of a agreeing a sale via the estate agent. Otherwise, a seller may find themselves duplicating information that they have already provided to their selling agent when marketing a property and further increasing frustration in the home buying and selling process.

Regardless of our views on the updated TA6 form, it will come into effect later this month. Watch this space!

Who to contact?

Please contact Zara Liedl Carroll if you have any enquiries or wish to discuss the contents of this article further.