Following a high profile complaint against YourMove about the poor visibility of letting fees in online advertisements placed by letting agents, the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) Committee for Advertising Practice has ruled that landlords and letting agents should disclose relevant fees in all property to let ads.
As of the 1st November, all landlords and letting agents in England and Wales are expected to display sufficient information about fees paid by prospective tenants. Of course, this has no bearing on landlords and letting agents in Scotland where premiums in relation to private tenancies are illegal.
How does this affect landlords?
Well it’s thought that the majority of landlords, who use third party websites to advertise their properties and levy very few charges on prospective tenants, are unlikely to be seriously affected.
Online property portals such as Zoopla and Rightmove are set to implement facilities to make it easier for their clients to comply with the new regulation.
Landlords who use letting agents to advertise their properties should check that their agent is aware of the legislation and has taken steps to ensure their adverts include all additional charges to tenants.
How does this affect letting agents?
Letting agents will need to review their property listings across all media platforms to ensure that they can comply with CAP’s guidance before the 1st November. This may be easier for larger letting agents than smaller, independent agents.
How does this affect potential tenants?
The CAP guidance waves the flag of transparency when it comes to letting agent fees. It will help ensure potential tenants know what they are getting themselves into in terms of the financial outlay involved in securing a new property to rent.
The guidelines could also help the landlord, agent and tenant relationship as all parties are required to be upfront about fees from the start.
In addition, the new guidelines could make for a more competitive market. If letting agent fees are displayed for all to see, there will be more pressure to make their fees more appealing. This could mean unscrupulous agents who charge extortionate fees, or hide the fact that they charge both landlords and tenants for the same services, have to clean up their acts. This can only be good news for tenants.
What do you think of the new guidelines? Will they affect you?