New ‘advice’ from the Committee of Advertising Practice will not end the culture of letting agents’ hidden fees

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has published new advice for lettings agents on how they must market their fees on their web sites and in adverts placed on property portals. This comes in the wake of the Advertising Standards Authority ruling that Your-move.co.uk Limited must make clear in their adverts when fees which are mandatory, but not calculable in advance, are not being included in a quoted price. Further information about these fees or charges must be provided via, say, a link, pop-up or footnote. Lettings agents must have adhered to this advice by 01 November before the CAP will begin close monitoring.

Rentify welcome any guidelines which will help to increase transparency and we are proud to say that you will find no such hidden charges with us. We do question, however, just how enforceable this advice will be. The very fact that the CAP insist on simply calling it ‘advice’ is somewhat ominous and they explicitly state that it is not legal advice. For non-compliant companies there is merely a vague threat to ‘consider appropriate follow-up action’. And there is certainly no suggestion that the portals where the adverts are placed will be required to enforce the CAP’s guidance.

It seems that the only way to force real change will be pressure from landlords and landlord bodies. If you become aware of companies flouting the advice, flag it up with the CAP or the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) as well as a relevant landlord association such as the RLA. It is right that the CAP is highlighting hidden fees as an issue that needs tackling but this ‘advice’ will not be enough to truly make a difference.

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