Communities and Local Government CommitteeWritten submission submitted by the Advertising Standards Authority

ASA Action on Letting Agents

As your most recent evidence session for the Private Rented Sector inquiry focused on the Lettings Market, I wanted to let you know about a ruling the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) made this week which will have sector wide implications for that industry.

The ruling marks the start of a clamp down by the ASA on hidden fees.

You may be aware that the ASA is the self-regulatory body responsible for ensuring advertising in the UK is legal, decent, honest and truthful. We do that by administering and enforcing the UK Advertising Codes.

We’ve ruled against an ad by the estate agent,, that appeared on the property website, Right Move, for not making clear that administration fees had been excluded from the quoted price, or providing enough information to allow the consumer to establish how further charges would be calculated.

The ruling makes clear that advertisers must include all compulsory fees and charges upfront in the price quoted. If the fee cannot be calculated in advance because of, for example, an individual’s circumstances, then the advertisers must make clear that compulsory fees and charges are excluded and provide adequate information for consumers to establish how additional fees are calculated. This means that potential tenants will have all the information they need in the first instance to help them make an informed choice and to avoid being drawn into contracts they haven’t budgeted for.

Our priority now is to make sure our rulings are followed by the sector as a whole. We want to ensure that all quoted prices are transparent so that consumers are not misled or treated unfairly. We will work closely with Trading Standards to ensure that compliance is joined up across the sector, in areas both within and outside our remit, such as shop windows. We know this may take some time but we are determined to tackle the problem.

I have enclosed the ruling for your interest, but if you would like to find out more about the work we do protecting consumers from misleading advertising and promoting fair competition in business please visit our website

April 2013

Prepared 16th July 2013