New guidance issue on adverts for rental properties in the UK

Information relating to non refundable fees and tenancy charges for residential rental lettings in the UK must now be displayed prominently on marketing and advertising material.

The Committee of Advertising Practice has published new advice which it has sent to all relevant trade bodies across the lettings sector following an Advertising Standards Authority ruling published in March 2013 in which it ruled against a letting agent which had not provided sufficient information about their fees in their online ads.

Residential lettings agents must now make changes to their websites and adverts placed on property portals and in other media and have until 01 November to do so.

‘We’ll be closely monitoring ads in all media from November onwards and will consider appropriate follow up action against non-compliant ads from this date,’ said the CAP.

The guidance comes after the CAP worked closely with bodies such as the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA) and The Property Ombudsman (TPO) as well as letting agents and private landlords to draw up the new requirements.

CAP has also published a new AdviceOnline, Compulsory costs and charges: Letting agents, for marketers to ensure that they comply with the rules.
Commenting on the CAP guidance, Caroline Kenny of the UK Association of Lettings Agents, said it should provide more clarity to letting agents on how to comply with the ASA ruling 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 and it is encouraging to see that additional in depth advice regarding compliance,’ she pointed out.

‘We encourage all letting agents to review their property listings across all media platforms before the November compliance deadline in order to ensure they fall in line with the CAP’s guidance,’ she added.

The ASA ruling in March related to property firm Limited which was told to ensure that their adverts make clear when non-optional fees and charges, that could not be calculated in advance, were excluded from quoted prices, and to provide enough information to allow the consumer to establish easily how further charges would be calculated.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RIVS) is also encouraging its members to familiarise themselves with the CAP guidance and to take action to ensure their businesses are compliant with the new requirements.
It pointed out that the CAP guidance articulates what compliance looks like for adverts in different media, with further help and advice available via the CAP copy advice team.