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Written by rosalind renshaw

The Committee of Advertising Practice has published its guidance to letting agents on how they should include tenants’ fees in their property advertisements. In a nutshell, specific fees must be displayed where there is room – for example, in press adverts – but where space is limited, agents may be able simply to refer to the fact that fees are charged on top of rent. The new rules apply to all forms of advertising, including websites and leaflets.

Agents have until November 1 to comply with the new CAP guidelines, meaning that the advertising watchdog will then act on any complaints. This morning, the Advertising Standards Authority confirmed it will be monitoring the situation.

The ASA also warned this morning that letting agents must show fees charged to tenants in their adverts, and should not try to get round the ruling by calling a fee a different name, or hiding fees in the small print. Agents must comply "with both the letter and spirit" of the new rules, it said.

It also said that while the new rules cover fees charged to tenants at the start of a tenancy, they do not cover redundable deposits. However, agents and landlords are encouraged to include a note about the deposit in adverts and how they are calculated.

The advice follows a ruling in March by the ASA that a rental listing on Rightmove, placed by Your Move, broke the rules and was banned.

The ASA told Your Move to ensure that future ads made clear when non-optional fees were excluded from quoted prices, and to provide enough information to allow the consumer to work out how those charges would be calculated.

The ruling affects all letting agents and all non-optional fees that an agent might charge, including admin, referencing, application fees, fees for drawing up agreements, and inventory fees.

The CAP guidelines says that adverts should make clear whether charges are per tenant or per property.

However, it acknowledges that different media have different requirements for space.

If advertisers are not limited for space, for example on their website, in leaflets and press adverts, they should state the fees that apply immediately below or close to the asking rent.

Further information about the fees and how they are calculated can either be provided through a link or via a pop-up.

Alternatively, a prominent statement could be provided at the top of the web page or in a footnote in press adverts or leaflets.

CAP gives some examples as to how agents can refer to fees alongside the headline asking rent.

For example, for non-optional fees that are always the same and apply to each tenant: “£1500pcm + £150 admin fee per tenant”.

If non-optional fees apply to all customers but cannot be calculated in advance, the price statement could be: “£1500pcm + fees”.

If non-optional fees apply to some but not all customers, the price statement could be: “£1500pcm + other fees may apply”.

If agents are extremely limited for space, for example in a tweet, it should be acceptable to state “2 beds from 1200pcm + fees”, as long as the landing page explains in more detail how the fees are calculated.

Commenting on the new CAP guidance, UKALA executive Caroline Kenny said: “This should provide more clarity to letting agents on how to comply with the Advertising Standards Agency’s ruling on the issue in March.
 
“We have worked closely and consistently with the CAP and other industry colleagues since the ruling to ensure that any subsequent guidance is as clear and unambiguous as possible for letting agents to adhere to. 

“It is also encouraging to see that additional in-depth advice regarding compliance will also be available through the CAP copy advice team, if required.
 
“We encourage all letting agents to review their property listings across all media platforms before the November 1 compliance deadline in order to ensure they fall in line with the CAP’s guidance.”

CAP’s online advice can be seen at the link below.

http://tinyurl.com/pp8x87f

Comments

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    I really don't see the problem here. It is a small change to make to our websites, and for press advertising an additional few words "+ other agents fees apply" will hardly break the bank.

    Come on people! The business is unregulated and THERE ARE COWBOYS operating in the sector. If a minor change like this helps drive them away, or make it more difficult for them, then I for one am in favour of it.

    • 11 October 2013 13:43 PM
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    Here at ZPG we do receive lots of enquiries from website users (ie consumers/applicants) for advice on fees, deposits, etc and are in agreement that any attempt to make them more transparent is a step in the right direction.

    The consultation that the ASA and the CAP have carried out for this exercise has been much better than that that was carried out for HIPs and EPCs. We have worked with the CAP closely and you will see a mock-up of a fee statement on PrimeLocation.com in one of the letters the CAP sent out to various bodies yesterday.

    The CAP understand that the majority of letting agents upload their listings to ZPG, Rightmove et al (and in many cases your own websites too) via third party data-feeds and as such they realise that making the necessary changes to include the exact fees per letting agent on a portal is quite a large task and so are allowing for this in the legislation.

    ZPG (and we believe Rightmove too) will be introducing a repositioned disclaimer that advises fees may be applicable and will detail what these fees may cover. The disclaimer will not detail what your actual fees are. The wording of the disclaimer has been agreed with the CAP.

    In the future, once ALL data-feed specifications have been updated and ALL data-feed providers have had the opportunity to bring their systems in line accordingly, then the portal industry will look into making the disclaimers more specific to particular letting agents and listings.

    ZPG will also be displaying rental deposits where supplied in the data-feeds in the near future too (which is covered in a later story on this website).

    Where ZPG host an agents website, we will be making sure that your website is in line with the legislation before the deadline. We have no plans to charge our agents for these changes.

    If you wish to know more about the changes, or have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the ZPG Member Services team, who have been briefed on the legislation and can also provide you with links to the CAP guidance.

    • 12 September 2013 17:11 PM
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    @Stonehenge - LOL

    • 11 September 2013 11:47 AM
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    James @ MKAgent - Shillings!!!! You must be over 60!

    • 11 September 2013 10:35 AM
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    Industry Observer losing the will to live, every cloud....

    • 11 September 2013 09:00 AM
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    According to the document Arla, RICS, TPO, UKALA ,NALs,NLA, RLA were all consulted first

    • 10 September 2013 17:24 PM
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    UKALA Caroline Kenny comments? Sorry Caroline you clearly have not worked in the shop front of rentals for some time, if at all!!
    As an agent I have to pay to have my web site and my media advert changed to accommodate all possible tenant costs in £pounds shillings and pence before they view one of my properties. Almost all of our new enquiries come direct from Rightmove - from telephone call straight to viewing direct. Rightmove are not showing £pounds shillings and pence, but my advert and my own web site is (altered at my cost) - so in taking that enquiry from Rightmove to the viewing am I are we complying?????
    Sorry your compliance advice is not clear and it will only end up with more confusion for us agent and landlords and tenants. Maybe a rental agent or two may or should have been consulted before your crazy compliance rules were made.
    regards
    James

    • 10 September 2013 15:41 PM
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    @ '@ Ray on 2013-09-10 09:22:42'

    It is given as an example not a suggestion.

    In my view just one wording is required - '+ initial fees',
    if indeed there are any. This should cover all situations and is absolutely clear?

    • 10 September 2013 14:02 PM
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    Great ruling, tells tenants exactly what they have to pay to move in and makes things so much better... oh.. wait, no it doesn't. It makes the prices confusing, you dont have to put them anyway if you set up pricing in such a way as to be able to say the fees have to be calculated on an individual basis, and lastly, there is no requirement to advertise the largest expense of any move in, the deposit, so tenants are still in the dark over total costs.

    What a waste of time...

    • 10 September 2013 09:24 AM
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    "could be: “£1500pcm + other fees may apply”.

    Its just a suggestion, write what you want if not happy with it.

    • 10 September 2013 09:22 AM
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    “£1500pcm + £150 admin fee per tenant”.

    So this is clear? To me it confuses and could read that the £150 is payable every month!

    • 10 September 2013 09:10 AM
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    Complete shambles.

    " If advertisers are not limited for space for example ..... and press adverts"

    Afraid I didn't read much after that having lost the will to live.

    • 10 September 2013 09:03 AM
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