March Madness – Fees and Transparency
They say March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb …. well the weather most certainly has not, but for lettingsthe lion definitely came before the lamb this March. At the start of the month the Advertising Standards Association (ASA) ruled against Your Move, regarding its advertising on Rightmove as misleading because it did not include a compulsory administration charge.
This ruling has caused great concern across the industry as there is no clear indication on what exactly must be stated, or where it must be stated, not to mention from when the ruling comes into effect.
Rightmove was quick to add a disclaimer to their website, though it is not clear if this “disclaimer will, on its own, be enough to satisfy the advertising watchdog”. With many agents not yet complying with the ruling, there seems to be within the industry no specific advise as yet as to what needs to be done by agents to bring their advertising into line with the ruling that they must clearly address fees and other charges to tenants within their adverts.
This ruling by the ASA came at the same time as a report from consumer watchdog Which? was published, on its findings on the transparency of letting agents fee’s. “Which? discovered that many letting agents are not disclosing their fees upfront, and are failing to disclose fees in written format. This means renters face unexpected charges, are unable to properly compare prices and don’t always know what they are signing up to until it is too late.”
These recent developments it could be argued highlight the need for regulation within the industry, and with the amendment to regulate letting agents by bringing them under the scope of the Estate Agents Act, having just scraped through the House of Lords this month, this could be happening sooner rather than later.