A non-profit “creative industry alliance”, the Central Office of Public Interest (COPI) says it is attempting to drive legal action to force the disclosure of air pollution ratings by estate agents, property websites, surveyors and conveyancers, similar to the obligations to disclose substances such as asbestos. The group says a recent 20-page legal opinion from Jessica Simor QC and Neil Fawcett, commissioned by COPI, revealed a “strong legal argument” estate agents not doing so would be negligent.
The group has also announced a new national rating system and website, which is claimed to reveal the best and worst UK addresses for air pollution. On London’s Harley Street in Westminster, 100% of addresses have a ‘Very High’ rating. Properties in this area cost over £2.3 million on average. At the other end of the scale, in HU7 4, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, homes are worth just under £150,000 on average. Yet every address has a ‘Low’ rating.
Commenting on the data and legal findings, Rebecca Marsh of The Property Ombudsman (TPO) said: “Air pollution is information all consumers should be aware of before they make a decision on a specific property. Arguably, this is material information that all sellers or landlords should be providing to potential buyers or tenants.”
A website addresspollution.org uses annualised data, said to be accurate to 20 m2, to reveal the levels of three toxic pollutants – PM2.5, PM10 and NO2 – at each address. The data, from Imperial College London, is displayed in an “easy-to-understand” Air Quality Report (AQR). The AQR gives each address a Low, Medium, Significant, High or Very High rating. The ratings are based around the WHO limits – a ‘Significant’ rating means the address exceeds the limit for one pollutant. The health implications for living at the address are also given. These have seemingly been sourced from academic papers and vary depending on the specific pollution levels found at the address.
Humphrey Milles, the founder of the Central Office of Public Interest, said: “With this national roll-out, it would be shameful for the property industry to not start acting in an honest, transparent way. Lives depend on it. Everyone has a right to know what they’re breathing. ”
Originally launched in September 2019 as a London-only pilot, addresspollution.org is described as “a people-powered initiative” by COPI to tackle inaction on air pollution. The website received more than one million visits at launch. The initiative was funded via Crowdfunder in 2019.