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Air quality alert

Friday 12 May 2017

As toxic air pollution hits record levels, agents could soon find themselves answering questions on the surrounding air quality.

Alongside ‘where’s the nearest station?’, estate agents may soon have to deliver a health warning to potential buyers, as air quality data may be added to property listings in the near future.

Pollution has become a top concern among buyers, and is significantly affecting the price they are willing to pay for homes in areas with poorer air quality. In some cases, property prices have sold for 15 per cent less than a similar property in a less polluted location.

Whilst the government currently has a network of meters across the country that monitor pollution, they only give air quality ratings by neighbourhood and not by road or house. A potential 'traffic light-style' pollution warning system has been suggested, to show which homes are located in the highest polluted areas.

Research by the Royal Colleges of Physicians and of Paediatrics and Child Health suggests that air pollution has been linked to 40,000 early deaths in the UK – this is more than Sweden, Mexico and the US put together.

According to statistics from the mayor's office, 9,000 people die prematurely each year in London alone as a result of long-term exposure to air pollution, while 438 schools in the capital are in areas exceeding legal air quality levels.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has promised to double funding to clean up the capital’s dirty air and has called for the government to adopt a diesel scrappage fund to tackle air pollution. The Mayor has also confirmed that the £10 ‘T-Charge’ scheme for the most toxic and polluting vehicles in central London will start in October this year. Typically only diesel and petrol vehicles registered before 2006 will be affected, however you can check your own vehicle with the T-Charge Checker.

Paula Higgins, Chief Executive of the Homeowners’ Alliance, commented:

"Giving buyers information about pollution would help them think with their head and not with their heart. People need to look at pollution levels in a prospective area just as they would when they look at crime rates."

Speaking to BBC Radio London, NAEA Propertymark Chief Executive Mark Hayward said:

"I think anything that would affect someone's decision to buy should be there to be seen by the public. What we are saying is it will now factor into somebody's wish list in terms of what and where they want to buy.

"I don’t think it will be long before it is compulsory to display pollution information on listings."