1.13 Advertising a Property for Rent
When advertising a property, the Energy Performance indicator of the EPC must be displayed. In addition, any fees charged for the letting must be clearly displayed. These might include administration, referencing, tenancy production and renewal fees.
An advert must not mislead a prospective tenant and must not omit any information that would lead to the prospective tenant making a different decision (such as omitting from the advert that the property is within 100 yards from an electricity power plant).
According to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) guidance for Lettings Professionals, adverts and property particulars must include all ‘material information’. In general the CMA consider that material information is likely to include:
- charges and costs associated with renting the property
- property characteristics such as the location, number and size of rooms, the type of energy supply and heating, sufficient information about Council Tax, for example, the amount payable or band
- the condition of the property, including any significant features that are likely to put a person off entering into a tenancy (such as defects, serious damp or potentially unsafe gas or electrical wiring)
- when the property will be available
- the terms of the tenancy agreement, and in particular any restrictions on the use of the property (such as whether smoking or pets are permitted), or any other unusual or onerous terms
- any requirement to use a particular third party trader (such as an energy or communications supplier)
- any restrictions on the type of tenant (such as housing benefit claimants), or circumstances in which a guarantor may be required (for example if required for student tenants, or tenants earning below a certain income level).
In respect of fees in adverts, the CMA guidance provides:
- information about charges provided in advertising and other promotional material should be full, accurate, clear, and not misleading
- rent and other charges should be presented inclusive of VAT, including where the charge is a percentage of something else
- fees should be accurately described, and clear information should be given about the nature and extent of the service being provided in return
Details of fees that should be included in marketing materials, advertising and property particulars include:
- fees that the tenant has to pay for his application to be processed, such as the cost of any reference and/or credit checks
- fees for the initial setting up of the tenancy, including inventory costs or other administration fees
- fees which must be paid in certain circumstances, such as charges for additional tenants, the use of a guarantor, or pets
- any ongoing or future fees or charges likely to be incurred by the tenant, for example, costs to extend, renew or terminate the tenancy and inventory check out fees.
The guidance is quite extensive and can be viewed in full here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/consumer-protection-law-for-lettings-professionals.
The best place to advertise nowadays is on the internet. There are a number of companies that will even enable a private landlord to advertise on large sites such as Rightmove or Zoopla. These companies become a letting agent and will pass details of any prospective tenant to the landlord so the landlord can conduct viewings themselves.
The most important thing about internet advertising is having good photographs. A landlord with a small number of properties would be advised to consider having professional photographs produced. A landlord with multiple properties might consider a professional digital camera (with the quality of a Digital Single Lens Reflex) with a quality lens making photographing in tight rooms produce a wider image. Tenants are less likely to respond to an advert on the internet that does not contain good pictures.
Check out other adverts for wording suggestions. Some companies will say that you need lots of words when advertising on the internet but this is not necessarily true. The most important factors to gain a good response are having good photographs and advertising the property at a fair and reasonable rent.
When wording, focus on selling points such as:
- energy efficiency including gas central heating, double glazing and LED lighting
- locality features such as schools and shops
- quality or modern features such as real wood flooring
- has the property been recently refurbished, modernised or decorated (but do not use terms such as “recently decorated” if it was decorated several months ago).