Lettings industry in UK urged to check advertising material quality

Letting agents, landlords and firms serving the rental sector in the UK ought to be careful how they choose to word their advertising material, it is claimed.

As regulation in the lettings sector changes more frequently, inaccurately worded adverts could see a higher number of companies get into trouble with the authorities, according to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC).

The organisation points to a recent instance where an industry firm called Landlord Certificates was asked to change its future advertising by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ASA received a complaint from a member of the public regarding a Landlord Certificates advert about landlords’ requirement to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their 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’.

However, in fact, the regulations state that carbon monoxide alarms are only required in rooms with a solid fuel burning appliance.

After being approached by the ASA, Landlord Certificates agreed to remove the statement completely from future adverts or provide additional content explaining the regulations in full. The ASA subsequently closed the case as ‘informally resolved’.

The AIIC says this case serves as a timely reminder to lettings firms that advertising wording must be accurate and chosen carefully.

‘This case may have been informally resolved but it highlights the dangers of being seen to put out misleading advertising statements. 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,’ said Patricia Barber, chair of the AIIC.

She explained that as legislation keeps changing and new regulations are introduced, it’s now easier for agents and firms serving the lettings sector to get caught out by providing out of date or wrongly worded information.

“’ 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 added.

Barber also wanted to remind agents and landlords that AIIC inventory clerks may be able to check battery powered smoke and carbon monoxide alarms for power during the inventory compilation or check-in process.

She pointed out that while this check is not a statement that the alarms are in full working order, clerks can report back that working batteries are in place and a warning sound is emitted.

Earlier this year, the AIIC chair criticised the regulations, describing them as ‘ill thought-out’ and ‘falling short’ of their requirements.

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