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New warning to letting firms over need for accurate advertising

The Associaton of Independent Inventory Clerks is warning agents and others in the lettings sector to be careful when preparing advertising material.

This follows recent cases where, prompted by changes to regulations for the sector, letting agents, landlords and suppliers have been caught out in the wording they use.

In one recent instance the utility inspection firm Landlord Certificates was asked to change its future advertising by the Advertising Standards Authority, following a complaint about the need for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in rental properties.

The complainant argued that the advert could be deemed misleading because it stated that “all landlords will need to install a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm at their rental property” - when, in reality, the regulations state that carbon monoxide alarms are only required in rooms with a solid fuel-burning appliance.

The AIIC says this case - which was classified as “informally resolved” by the ASA without the need for it to enforce a notice on Landlord Certificates - nonetheless serves as a timely reminder to lettings firms that advertising wording must be accurate and chosen carefully.

"Having a case like this publicised is not good PR for any company and it could be even more detrimental if a complaint is upheld by the ASA” says Patricia Barber, AIIC chair. 

"It's important to make sure every aspect of your advertising is water tight and compliant. You'll be able to find out what you can and can't say in advertisements from the ASA and the Committee of Advertising Practice" she adds.

Barber also reminds agents and landlords that AIIC inventory clerks may be able to check battery powered smoke and carbon monoxide alarms during the inventory compilation or check-in process. While this check is not a statement that the alarms are in full working order, clerks can check that working batteries are in place and a warning sound is emitted.

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