Letting agents have begun to report instances of Trading Standards trying to police the issue of undisclosed fees in adverts, following the Advertising Standards Authority ruling early this year. However, this action seems grossly unfair, given that industry bodies have issued little to no guidance to letting agents, and the fact that they are being accused of breaking the law when no law exists.
In contradiction to Trading Standards, The Property Ombudsman does not say that agents should disclose fees so early.
The Office of Fair Trading says all compulsory fees should be made known from the start (though they have yet to issue official guidelines), but this is not possible because agents do not know for sure what fees a particular tenant may need to be charged until further along due to differing circumstances.
The Committee of Advertising Practice has set early 2014 as the target for “full compliance” to as yet unwritten rules for the lettings industry, but expects to issue interim guidance by the end of this month, meaning that within a matter of weeks agents could be forced to comply with very tricky rules.
Portals have begun work to try to adapt their software in time.