New ASA Rules on Property Advertising

The Advertising Standard Authority have provided new rules around advertising property in print and online.

From the 1st November 2013 as a letting agent or private landlord you will now need to have ensured you include information about non-option fees prominent in your property advertising.  This is coupled with any charges that the tenant incurs during the rental process.

The changes have been made to make tenant charges and fees clearer following complaints about estate and letting agency Your Move.  The complaint claimed that advertisements for property rentals were misleading as they didn’t include a ‘compulsory administration charge’.

The Advertising Standards Authority upheld the complaint and, as this impacted on most rental adverts, took the next few months to work with letting professionals and private landlords to agree a way forward and to make the changes that have come into force recently.

At a minimum, if you are a letting agent or a private landlord you must now include all costs which you know you will charge at the beginning of the agreement – for instance, administration costs and referencing costs.

If the charges cannot be calculated up front (you may not know how many potential tenants you have for referencing) then you may still have to make these available to tenants via advertisements and online.

The ASA has provided guidance for upfront fees and how you must include them in an advertisement and how to make it clear to tenants that there other charges to pay other than just the rent.

For example: “to introduce a tenant there is a fixed administration fee into an advert you might have to say £1,500 PCM plus £150 administration fee per tenant”.

If the fees you charge are unable to be included because of lack of space or you cannot calculate them without further discussions with the tenant, the ASA will now require the letting agent or landlord to include a note with the advert to say additional fees will apply.

Letting Agents who advertise properties on property website portals should now be adapting their sites to include a links from property adverts which will say “Fees apply.”

Some agents are now complying with these regulations and amending their websites, so if you are a letting agent or private landlord check that your ads are correctly being displayed and if not seek guidance from the ASA.