Advertising authority to “take action” against estate agent ads

Advertising authority to “take action” against estate agent ads

Estate agents are regularly breaking advertising rules on property adverts, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has claimed.

The body, which is in charge of writing advertising rules, said estate agents could face criminal prosecution if they failed to comply with the CAP Code.

In its Enforcement Notice issued to estate agents, the authority said it has “noticed repeat problems” with property sector advertising, and is calling on agents to take immediate action to ensure their ads comply.

It highlights on a recent investigation, in which an ad made claims to sell property for a flat fee of £495. CAP said the ad did not make clear that consumers would have to pay additional fees to use their own conveyancer or mortgage broker.

“Significant limitations and qualifications, like those stated above, should be made clear in ads”, said the Committee.

It added: “Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims they qualify.”

CAP also warns about ads with VAT-exclusive fees, contrary to rule 3.18 of the CAP Code: “Quoted prices must include non-optional taxes, duties, fees and charges that apply to all or most buyers. However, VAT-exclusive prices may be given if all those to whom the price claim is clearly addressed pay no VAT or can recover VAT. Such VAT-exclusive prices must be accompanied by a prominent statement of the amount or rate of VAT payable.”

CAP said it will take “targeted enforcement action” in the property sector in 2018 to ensure a compliant level-playing field in this market.

The Enforcement Notice can be found here.