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Compliance expert says advert guidance on agents' fees is misleading

A compliance expert has taken the Advertising Standards Authority to task over its guidance to letting agents on the advertising of application fees - he says the ASA advice is flawed and is resulting in consumers being misled. 

David Beaumont of Compliance Matters has written to the authority’s regulatory policy manager following an ASA statement on November 11 - carried on Letting Agent Today - outlining his concerns and seeking a review of the guidance. 

Beaumont has told Letting Agent Today that for the Committee on Advertising Practice to require agents to advertise a one-off application fee, payable before any tenancy begins, and right next to a monthly rental, is misleading consumers.  To also have to insert the plus symbol between the two figures compounds the problem, he claims.


“£1,500pcm + £150 admin fee per tenant” is one example within the guidance that Beaumont has taken issue with.

In the letter he agrees that consumers must be made aware of the fees and that the amount should be made clear to consumers before they are in a position to incur expense. But he believes the issue should be handled differently, because consumers will be confused and diligent agents will be at a commercial disadvantage by following the advice.

He makes his point by asking which agent would an applicant contact after reading two separate adverts: one with a rental figure quoted at £1,500pcm + £150 admin fee and one quoting a rental fee of £1,500pcm?

He says that because of the new obligations under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 for letting agents to display fees on websites resolving this should be straightforward - agents simply need to have a link to their online fees list on every page where they advertise properties or have a link to just the application fee information.

  • Richard White

    Is a + sign really confusing?

    If you are unable to process the concept of an amount of money added to another amount of money, you probably cannot tie your own shoelaces and therefore should not be renting anywhere.

  • icon

    I never work with such advertising figures other than to ensure they are close to typical. When discussing a deal I always ask for a final price and blank any attempts for the agent to impress me with how valuable or necessary all the parts of the total cost are. If you start arguing the bits and pieces you will end up paying more - usually.

    Our last purchase produced a bill to get set up with a mortgage of £1,200 from the selling agent. I went to a broker I have used before who simply said our rate is £260. They got the business on the spot.

  • David Beaumont

    Richard - When you know what it means, as we do, it is as simple as tying a shoe lace, but if you don't then when you are told the rent is £1500 + £150 the maths tells you the rent is going to be £1650. Is that not misleading?

    Rookie Landlord

    Yes, yes it is.

    Richard White

    But the article states that the advert says £1500 + £150 admin fee.

    Surely only an absolute nitwit would think that this means the rent is £1650 per month?

  • David Beaumont

    Richard - Yes but you know what it means. This 'nitwit' who is new to the letting market does not know that the admin fee is a one off payment and has nothing to do with and is not linked to the rent payable every month. All they see is £1500 + £150. Remember the ASA is in place to protect that 'nitwit' and I do not think they do that with their advice.


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