Letting Agent Tenants Fees Rules 2014
Estates IT Has It Covered
We have received many calls and emails from our customers worrying about how they can be legally compliant for the latest 2014 Tenant Fees Rules, Regulations and Requirements as highlighted by Rightmove this month. Below are a few notes, pointers and guidelines. Read the article below and if you have further questions or need Estates IT to assist in your compliance call Customer Services on 020 8859 1700 or contact us via email.
Tenant Fees Information Update
Recent new guidance from the Competition and Markets Authority and agreed with the Advertising Standards Authority, states that all rental property adverts on portals need to reference tenancy fees, and that information on the actual fees a lettings agent charges also needs to be provided. The ASA have agreed a deadline of the end of November 2014 for all property listings on Rightmove and other portals to be updated. The ASA have agreed to take no enforcement action regarding the non-display of specific tenancy fees in Rightmove rental adverts until 1st December 2014.
A new Tenants Fee field (Administration Fee) is now provided in the feeds by Estates IT to compliant portals like Rightmove and Zoopla.
This new field allows up to 4000 characters of text information about the fees relating to a property. Some HTML can be supplied in the text but does not have to be. E.g. you can have <p> or <br> tags but no link tags like <a> <img> or tags like <span> <div> <font>
How It Works In PCHomes Software For Letting Agents
In PCHomes Lettings Software 6.5 or higher the user can enter their fees data into a text box provided on the finance tab of the property screen. They can also enter specific tenant fees amounts for use on invoices and documents that are output from the system. The fees text box also allows popup and selection of predefined fees text and template text, making data entry simple and quick.
If the agent always has the same set of fees for each property, and so does not want to enter them against each property, the fees can be entered at a branch level. These fees can be then be used for each property without the need to actually enter them against each property. The text for these fees should be put together and provided to Estates IT.
If the agent is using a version of PCHomes prior to 6.5 they can still have fees implemented as above. The agent would be instructed on an alternative spare entry field in PCHomes to enter property specific fees data in to. If the fees are generic for each property then the same applies to these versions as per 6.5, where the fees can be entered at a branch level.
If generic fees are set for an agent, these are always used if no property specific fees have been specified.
All agents subscribing to PCHomes can be upgraded to 6.5 upon request. This is automatically part of the subscription service provided by Estates IT.
Rightmove - How It Works
We can advise that the agent will be able to manually input tenancy fees data if they have access to Rightmove Plus. This will only be on a property by property level and they will not be able to submit a default text for the branch.
If the tenancy fees field in the feed is not populated, then any manually inputted text will display. If the tenancy fees field is populated, however, this will overwrite any manual data.
If no fees information is supplied in the feed or manually put in, then the default text about fees supplied by Rightmove will display.
As described in the above PCHomes section, fees supplied in the feed can be property or branch specific.
When Will The Data Be Displayed?
Rightmove and Zoopla are both in the testing phase of this implementation, at the time of this article. Estates IT are ready to go and have already tested the feed uploads. Rightmove plan to start showing property specific fees at the end of October 2014. Zoopla plan to display property specific fees at the end of November 2014.
Where Is The Data Displayed?
The data is displayed in a light-box which will appear when a user clicks the "fees apply" link on the portal. This light-box currently contains generic fee information text as agreed with the ASA and rolled out at the end of last year.
It is the agent's, not the portal's or Estates IT's, responsibility to be compliant to and adhere to rules and guidance provided by Competition and Markets Authority (CMA, previously the Office of Fair Trading) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Estates IT will endeavour to provide all the tools required to assist in this compliance.
Please note, these requirements do not apply to Scottish rental properties. Scottish rental property adverts on Rightmove will not display the "fees apply" link or the associated light-box.
What To Do Next
- If you have a generic set of fees that apply to all or most of your lettings properties, e.g. £150 administration fee per Tenant, then give this information to Estates IT customer services. This can be immediately set as your default fees information in your feeds.
- If you are on PCHomes 6.5 and you have a specific fees on a per property basis then start entering those fees now in PCHomes.
- If you are on PCHomes 6.0 or lower and you have specific fees on a per property basis then contact Estates IT customer services to agree where your fees will be input - usually the "Other" description box. Once done your feeds will be configured accordingly.
Consumer protection law for lettings professionals - CMA31:
Compulsory costs and charges - Letting agents:
For any questions about this guidance, please contact the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Copy Advice team:
Displaying all tenancy fees on all listings on Rightmove:
This article does not constitute legal advice, Estates IT are not solicitors. If you need full legal clarification of the law and your responsibilities as a Letting Agent please seek proper legal advice.
Written by John Roberts
Source Estates IT Ltd