Both Rightmove and Zoopla are gearing up for the November 1 deadline set by the Advertising Standards Authority.
From that date, all letting agents must display their actual fees to tenants in adverts where there is room to do so – including on their own websites and in press advertising – or flag up the existence of fees where there is not room, for example in tweets.
However, on the main property portals, agents’ actual fees will not be displayed. Instead, a ‘fees apply’ message will be shown leading to a pop-up window with generic examples.
Agents will not be required to input the fees to their Rightmove and Zooopla listings. At first sight, this appears to breach the Advertising Standards Authority's warning that agents must obey both the spirit and the letter of the new ruling about displaying fees. However, the way that the major property portals are approaching the issue has had official approval.
Tim Bannister, head of lettings at Rightmove, told LAT: “Following consultation with the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) regarding the ASA ruling, Rightmove will add a text link stating that ‘fees apply’ to every rental property advertised on Rightmove.
“This will open up a ‘pop-up’ window detailing examples of the sorts of fees that may be incurred, in addition to the monthly advertised rent, when taking on a tenancy.
“The ‘fees apply’ message and pop-up window will be live on Rightmove from November 1.
“The wording presented in these messages has been agreed by CAP in consultation with a number of lettings industry bodies.
“CAP has confirmed to us that implementing this change means that rental property adverts on Rightmove will be in compliance with the CAP guidance.
“Members, therefore, do not need to take any action regarding the advertising of their rental property stock on Rightmove.
“However, we would strongly advise that Rightmove member agents seek advice and clarification from CAP’s copy advice team about complying with the ruling across all other advertising media, including their own websites.”
A Zoopla spokesman said: “Zoopla Property Group will be displaying the relevant information in accordance with the new guidelines on our websites from October 31 latest.”
It is likely that the guidelines may change again in the New Year, when the OFT is due to issue its own advice on letting agents’ fees.