Letting agents pledging guaranteed rents for buy to let landlords must pull their advertising claims after intervention from a consumer watchdog.
The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that online letting agents Smartinvest Capital trading as Victoria Knight and Reliance Property Management Specialists both broke advertising rules by failing to explain the limitations to their rent guarantees on their web sites.
Smartinvest and Reliance Property Management Specialists are under the same management.
The ASA ruled Victoria Knight’s online claim of an assured monthly income for landlords was misleading because the firm suggested rent was guaranteed whatever the circumstances but did not make clear the contract included limitations to the promise.
Full terms of the contract were not published on the web site, but only guaranteed the rent if Victoria Knight was the property tenant and the landlord agreed the firm could sub-let.
“We did not consider they would understand from the ad that the guaranteed rent was based on an agreement in which Victoria Knight became the tenant and then sub-let property to other tenants. We considered that was material information likely to cause consumers to take transactional decisions that they would not otherwise have taken,” said the ASA ruling.
Reliance Property Management Specialists advertised guaranteed rent for 365 days a year – but the same issues applied to the claim as to that of Victoria Knight.
“While we noted that in some instances the guaranteed rent claims in the [Reliant Property Management Specialists] ad stated that terms and conditions applied, the ad did not make clear each significant limitation of the guarantee. A copy of the full terms was not made available for landlords to view on the website,” said the ASA.
Both letting agents have amended the claims on their web sites.