Letting Fees MUST be disclosed in advertising as of Nov 1st 2013

by Mark Alexander

12:13 PM, 10th September 2013
About 5 years ago

Letting Fees MUST be disclosed in advertising as of Nov 1st 2013

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Letting Fees MUST be disclosed in advertising as of Nov 1st 2013

Many of you will be aware of a ruling made by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in March this year following a tenant complaint concerning letting fees. This meant that changes had to be made to the way letting agents and private landlords advertise, and as a regulator, the ASA has the power to enforce the rulings.

The Property Ombudsman led a working group to discuss the ruling and negotiate its implementation with the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), which writes the Advertising Codes applied by the ASA. Letting Fees MUST be disclosed in advertising as of Nov 1st 2013

The discussions began immediately after the ruling and CAP has released new guidance today for agents and private landlords to adhere to. The guidance notes can be downloaded by completing the form below this article.

CAP has agreed to an 8-week period of grace to allow agents and landlords forewarning to make the changes outlined in the guidance so they are compliant from 1st November 2013 onwards.

Given that the ASA ruling had to be implemented and the practical limitations facing portals advertising rental properties online, this is the most practical outcome possible in the circumstances.

The CAP guidance includes:

  • A background to the role and responsibilities of the ASA and CAP, and the ruling that led to the changes
  • Guidance on how to interpret the ruling
  • Timelines for implementation
  • Points of contact for further information/support

Gerry Fitzjohn, Chief Operating Officer of The Property Ombudsman Service said “I recognise the impact this ruling has on letting agents and the industry as a whole and hope today’s CAP guidance provides some clarity on this issue.”

Please post comments below the download request form.

CAP Guidance Notes - Download Request Form



Comments

Adam Alexander

12:37 PM, 10th September 2013
About 5 years ago

At National-Lettings we are delighted this has come about. Our fees to tenants are amongst the lowest in the industry. Finally tenants will be able to make an informed choice based on the total costs of letting a property. How disappointing must tenants get when they find the property of their dreams at a rent they can afford, only to realise they can't afford the extortionate fees being charged by the letting agent? What a waste of time and money this was for tenants.

With our revised business model which affords self managing landlords an opportunity to advertise their property(ies) through us on Rightmove for just a fiver and this news on top we are feeling rather confident and smug right now.

Check out our Free Guide to Finding Perfect Tenants via the link below. In case you haven't already guessed, I am Mark Alexander's brother 🙂

NFOPP Press Office

13:35 PM, 10th September 2013
About 5 years ago

Reacting to the Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP) announcement on the deadline for letting agent fees transparency, Ian Potter, Managing Director, ARLA, said:

“ARLA has, for a long time, said that all letting agents should be clear and upfront about the fees they charge, and the services associated with those fees. We’ve worked closely with CAP and the ASA on the development of these guidelines, so today’s announcement of the deadline and associated requirements will not come as a surprise to our members.

“As the private rental sector continues to grow, transparency around fees is vital to ensuring the letting industry is trusted by landlords and tenants alike. For this reason, transparency is part of our code of conduct and any member that doesn’t adhere faces investigation by either the relevant Ombudsman or face disciplinary action by ARLA.”

Ed Atkinson

17:52 PM, 10th September 2013
About 5 years ago

BRILLIANT NEWS!!

Let's have our properties stand out by showng no extra fees

Adam Alexander

18:10 PM, 10th September 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ed Atkinson" at "10/09/2013 - 17:52":

Ed, you will be pleased to hear that National-Lettings also have an option for landlords just like you. We charge just £5 for Rightmove Advertising and give you the option to pay the formal referencing costs on behalf of your tenant or a £100 additional fee if you don't want us to do the referencing but only if we source a tenant which you choose to let to.

It will be very interesting for us to see how the dynamics of our business develop post November 1st 2013. Will bad tenants target landlords who don't charge fees on the basis that they are less likely to get caught out by the referencing? Will landlords come to realise this and go for the model whereby they only pay a fiver to us for advertising and the tenants pay for referencing? Or will landlords who previously used agents charging higher fees be more likely to migrate to one of the National-Lettings business models? Either way we are delighted 🙂

Check out our Free guide to finding perfect tenants liked below.
.

DC

19:33 PM, 10th September 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Adam Alexander" at "10/09/2013 - 12:37":

Great news and have a pat on the back Adam. I really wish there were far more agents out there taking your lead.

This will certainly sort out those agents that are part of the rip-off Britain culture. They think they are the big boys and girls that can charge what they want but this much awaited ruling should bring them back down to earth.

I am aware locally that some agents have tinkered with their fees in readiness for the implementation of the ruling but from what I have heard it will be woefully too little to satisfy the needs of cost conscious tenants. So they will just have to think again because the hard facts are that tenants will not pay £300 of fees to agent A when they can pay £150 to agent B for the same property. I’m afraid this will prove to be the failing of some of those agents that boast 1000’s of properties on their books that are serviced by ‘fresh out of school staff’ and offer expensive and a well below par service to tenants and landlords in return. (On this point I don’t mean to put down the young employees working within the lettings industry, however the poor standards they are set don’t help them and only serve to cause a continuous turnover of similar staff due to the horrendous situation a lot of them find themselves in.)

My only criticism is that this ruling has only gone part of the way to capping charges by the rogue agents. By not regulating agents charges to the landlords that they serve we are only seeing half of the picture. Agent A, who is milking the tenant, is often also taking his landlord for a ride and because this ruling only requires initial tenant fees to be publicised it may be that the landlord will end up paying more for his share of what are in some cases already extortionate fees.

I hope that those landlords paying unnecessary fees will also stand up to the bullyboy agents and tell them that enough is enough.

Also, why is it that those agents that have a second or third bite of the cherry by charging totally unnecessary fees during tenancies, such as when AST’s roll over in SPT’s and at the end of tenancies too are allowed to get away with this? Why aren’t these fees to be publicised as well?

However, this ruling is a start to sorting the chaff from the wheat, so to all those agents out there that have been riding the gravy train, your time is up and you know who you are!

Industry Observer

8:47 AM, 11th September 2013
About 5 years ago

@DC

What makes you think a Landlord won't be next to complain, a la Foxtons and hidden charges. In reality post Foxtons it should be very hard for agents to rip off Landlords (as opposed to tenants) unless they are publishing and highlighting all fees before the relationship starts and are very transparent on them.

If they are not easy process for the Landlord to seek a refund. Just threaten Foxtons case and above all referral to the OFT. Having been there any agent who fights a battle with the oFT is certifiable - as Foxtons found out to their considerable cost.

Sharon Betton

11:26 AM, 11th September 2013
About 5 years ago

Since reading a newspaper comment some years ago, made by Shelter and supported by CAB, I have been waiting for some changes. I am just glad these seem fairly innocuous, though probably for those agents who seem dependent on extortionate administration fees and renewal fees, innocuous may not be the word they use! My advice when providing training to landlords is - if you charge an administration fee, make sure it is defendable. Be very clear what it covers and how you have reached this figure. Of course, they will now have to advertise with this fee publicised up front, but that should not be an issue for landlords, used to discussing this matter in initial telephone conversations.

Ray Davison

9:15 AM, 16th September 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Adam Alexander" at "10/09/2013 - 18:10":

Hi Adam,
My thoughts on your model.
It seems what you are doing (Or offering as an alternative) is passing the costs of referencing (Of a possible rogue or abortive tenant) onto the Landlord. It is not unusual to go through a number of applications prior to finding someone with an acceptable credit history or reference or you may wish to assess a number of applicants to choose the best. This would be very costly to the Landlord using your model. Also your proposition that you should be paid for not doing something (Referencing) I find wholly unsatisfactory. You also need to be transparent and charge what you need to in order to provide the advertising service not hide the costs of this by charging elsewhere.

Just my thoughts - the cost should be apportioned to where it arises.

DC

11:29 AM, 16th September 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ray Davison" at "16/09/2013 - 09:15":

Ray, I read Adam's model and understood it a little differently than you, for instance the point is made:
"Most landlords in England and Wales prefer option 2) i.e. for their tenants to pay for formal referencing. This keeps your costs and risks down to the absolute minimum. However, you are perfectly entitled to pay our formal referencing charges if you prefer to do that."

Isn't this the normal procedure, i.e. the tenant pays a fee that covers referencing?

I think the £5 Rightmove fee and £100 finders fee or £89 referencing fee are reasonable.

Personally, I prefer the way my agent charges no fee to the Landlord and only charges extremely good value and very transparent fees to the tenant.

Either example is fair, but it's the agents that charge ridiculously expensive fees to both tenants and landlords alike that need looking into and hopefully that's what this ruling will address.

Ray Davison

11:47 AM, 16th September 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "DC " at "16/09/2013 - 11:29":

Hi DC, Adam in his post says "a £100 additional fee if you don’t want us to do the referencing" so I cannot just advertise with him. I need to agree to pay him £100 for the ability to carry out my own referencing or allow him to reference the tenants. The advertising element is therefore a misnomer as I cannot receive prospects details without paying again. Thats why I say Adam should just be upfront and charge what he needs to advertise a property and then pass on the leads.

At the end of the day it is only my opinion and the model may suit a few Landlords but I do not think it gives the transparency that Adam suggests.

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