Landlord Law

3.1 Marketing and advertising

3 Lettings
3.1 Marketing and advertising

You must always act in good faith, with the standard of care and skill that is in accordance with honest market practice.

Before letting, you must obtain any consent needed – for example, joint owner, lender, insurance company, superior landlord, freeholder and local authority. You must also comply with the obligations and requirements of the various safety legislation, standards and regulations that apply to rented property.

If the owner of a leasehold property wishes to let, they must consider the terms of that property’s lease to the immediate landlord and any covenants or other obligations that will need to be included in the tenancy agreement. You must draw these to the attention of potential tenants at the earliest appropriate opportunity.

You must not exert undue pressure on any potential tenant.

You must comply with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

You should treat all tenants, prospective tenants, landlords and prospective landlords as consumers for the purposes of the regulations, unless they are clearly not, such as in the case of a limited company landlord or tenant.

You should refer to the Competition and Markets Authority’s Guidance for lettings professionals on consumer protection law for further information and guidance.

You must take reasonable steps to ensure that all statements made about a property, whether oral, pictorial or written, are correct and are not misleading. The information must be provided in a clear and timely manner and must not omit or hide material information.

You must not engage in any unfair commercial practice by saying, doing or omitting to do something which causes, or is likely to cause, the average consumer to take a different transactional decision.

You must not engage in any of the 31 specific practices that the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPR) ban outright (see Regulation 3 and Schedule 1 of the Regulations).

Advertisements must comply with the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP)’s UK Code of non-broadcast advertising, sales promotion and direct marketing.

You must ensure that the property particulars and any advertisements include the alphabetical Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) rating from the EPC.

You should explain all the possible tenancy options to the prospective landlord and tenant, including any potential for longer term lets. You should also explain that longer agreements may include rent review clauses to allow for changes in rent during longer fixed-term tenancies. If the agreement is for a fixed term of three years or more, the agreement must be executed as a deed. If you know that the property is only available in the short term, you should advise prospective tenants of this at the earliest opportunity, preferably before viewing.

‘To let’ boards must comply with planning requirements.

For agents only
If asked to let a leasehold property, the agent must ask the leaseholder for full details of all covenants or obligations that may apply to the tenant and which must be incorporated in any tenancy agreement.

There is a lot here.  The best thing to do is to read it through and follow the links if you want to read the source material.  Basically it is all about acting in a fair and transparent manner and in accordance with the regulations.  Here are a few comments.

Unfair Practices

The CPR say in regulation 3 that unfair commercial practices are prohibited.  Schedule 1 is where you will find the 31 commercial practices which are considered unfair.

These include things like:

  • Pretending you are regulated when you are not, or that you have been approved by an organisation when it hasn’t approved you
  • Offering to sell something you may not be in a position to sell (or rent)
  • Refusing to provide specific particulars so you can switch products / properties later
  • Saying something will be available for a limited time to prevent people having time to make an informed choice
  • Presenting something which is actually a right given to consumers, as if it is a special  feature
  • Using advertorials which have been paid for as if they are independent reviews
  • Constantly contacting customers when they have said they don’t want this, and/or visiting them at home
  • Failing to respond to correspondence in the hope that someone making a complaint will go away
  • Telling people that if they do not buy (or rent) the item (or property), your livilhood will be at risk

EEC SAP ratings

This refers to the energy performance certificates where properties get assessed on a scale of A – G.

Note by the way that it is planned that landlords will not be able to rent out properties with a rating of less than E after (at the latest) April 2018.

To let boards

The government booklet ‘Outdoor advertisements and signs: a guide for advertisers‘ goes into some detail about the different types of outside advertisments and signs that exist and what the rules are.

The ‘standard’ rules covering all outside adverts are that they must

  • be kept clean and tidy
  • be kept in a safe condition
  • have the permission of the owner of the site on which they are displayed
    (this includes the Highway Authority if the sign is to be placed on
    highway land)
  • not obscure, or hinder the interpretation of, official road, rail, waterway
    or aircraft signs, or otherwise make hazardous the use of these types
    of transport
  • be removed carefully where so required by the planning authority

There are also rules regarding the size and appearance permitted.  If you are an agent, your boards will probably already comply with this requirements.  If you are an individual landlord, you may want to read the guide and check before getting any boards made.

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