Assured Advice 21: Letting fees on adverts

Is it misleading for a letting agent not to display penalty fees in their adverts?

This Primary Authority Advice has been produced by Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards Service, in partnership with The Property Ombudsman and Propertymark, for use by member businesses as an aid to complying with the law. If you follow this advice correctly, your local Trading Standards Service should respect this and not ask you to comply with the law in a different way. If you are contacted by a local authority enforcement body, please inform them that you are a member of the scheme.

Assured advice issued:

Paragraph 5.21 of the Competition and Markets Authority Guidance for lettings professionals on consumer protection law, states that ‘where an advert provides details of the property and any other cost information (such as rent), all other non-optional fees & charges should be included’.

If permitted non-optional fees, including any penalty charges, are omitted from adverts, consumers might choose to make a transactional decision (such as viewing a property or undergoing a credit reference check) that they may not have done had they known about the fee/charge.

If the agent does apply pre tenancy charges when tenancy is aborted due to a poor credit reference or for some other reason (as permitted by the Tenant Fees Act), then this would be considered material information and should be made available to consumers within an advertisement.

Penalty charges, including abortive fees, should be included in marketing materials, advertisements or other promotional materials so that consumers are aware of their existence before taking a transactional decision.

Download the full version

Download the full version of this advice to see what legislation and guidance Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards Service considered before providing this advice.