Advertising a Property for Rent
When advertising a property, the Energy Performance indicator of the EPC must be displayed. Aso, the advert should show the council tax banding. In addition, although generally a landlord or agent is no longer allowed to charge fees, if there are any permitted, these must be displayed.
An advert must not mislead a prospective tenant. It must not omit any information that would lead to the prospective tenant making a different decision (such as missing from the advert that the property is within 100 yards of an electric 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 considers 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, severe dampness or potentially unsafe gas or electrical wiring)
- when the property will be available
- the terms of the tenancy agreement, in particular, restrictions on the use of the property (e.g. whether smoking or pets are permitted), or 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 necessary 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 complete, accurate, clear, and not misleading
- rent and additional charges should be presented inclusive of VAT, including where the cost is a percentage of something else
- fees should be accurately described, and you should give clear information about the nature and extent of the service being provided in return
The guidance is extensive and can be viewed in full here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/consumer-protection-law-for-lettings-professionals.
Keep in mind that most fees are now banned except for some tenancies. See later for information on tenant fees.
The best place to advertise nowadays is on the internet. Several companies 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 tenants to the landlord so the landlord can conduct viewings themselves.
The most important thing about internet advertising is good photographs. A landlord with a few properties would be advised to consider having professional pictures 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 natural 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).
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