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Hidden housing fees brought out into the open

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Last week saw the Advertising Standards Authority's deadline for all landlords and lettings agents in England, Northern Ireland and Wales to clearly state all non-optional fees on any private rented property they advertise. The new requirements came into to force on 1 November and refer to both online (including social media) and print advertisements.

The requirements stipulate that any additional fees such as administration costs, inventory charges, and charges for reference and credit checks need to be clearly stated in advertisements. In practice this means that these fees will have to be calculated before the advertisement goes to print or online. If the letting agent or landlord is unable to do so they will be required to state what fees have not been quoted and how they will be calculated.

For social media adverts and advertisements where space is limited the requirement will be to have a separate link to their website with full information or a separate pop-up stating the fees in full. Property portals such as Rightmove or Primelocation are exempt from the full requirements but will however have to produce a generic fees apply statement which details the fees that are likely to be applied.

Shelter has set up a website page where you can report any advertisements which are not and an example of how new advertisements should look. You can access the page here. More information on the new requirements is available on the Advertising Standards Authority website.

NUS continues to lobby with Shelter and others for letting agent fees to be banned. While this new requirement from the ASA represents a significant step forward, there is still serious work to be done to ensure that tenants are truly empowered in the rental market.

 

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