Estate Agents, Letting Agents, Buying Agents and Property Management Companies need to fulfill increasing amounts of legislation, so it will be of no surprise that this also encompasses their websites, including hefty fines for non-compliance.
Providing this information is the website owner’s responsibility, and although we can provide guidance and advice, as a business owner, you must check your site regularly to ensure the information is correct, and update any details either in your CMS or provide your website provider with the information to do it for you.
It is also worth bearing in mind that the property industry is under constant scrutiny from Trading Standards, its own peers, and individual competitors, with at least one of them more than happy to see you receive a large fine, your reputation in tatters, and in a worst case scenario, banned from operating altogether.
You must join an appropriate and approved redress scheme if you are involved in the buying, selling, or letting of residential property, including property management companies and buying agents.
Redress scheme logos must be prominently displayed on websites and linked to the scheme’s website.
Alternatively, the URL should be provided separately.
The approved redress schemes are:
You may be fined up to £5,000 and have your license revoked if you do not join a redress scheme.
Find out more:
In Scotland, Letting Agents must also register with their local council, and their registration number displayed on their website,
Client Money Protection (CMP)
In England, Letting Agents and Property Management Companies are required to provide a copy of their Client Money Protection policy on their website.
You must join a Client Money Protection scheme if you’re a Letting or Property Management agent in the private rented sector in England and you hold clients’ money, such as collecting rent from tenants.
These schemes make sure landlords and tenants are compensated if you cannot repay their money, for example, if you go into administration
You may be fined up to £30,000 if you do not join a client money protection scheme.
Even if you are a member but fail to display your certificate on your website, you could still be fined £5,000 fine.
The rules are different in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland:
Scotland – you will need Professional indemnity insurance and a separate bank account for client money
Wales – you need to join a money protection scheme before you apply for an agent license through Rent Smart Wales
Northern Ireland – you do not have to join a client money protection scheme.
Landlord and Tenant Fees
Residential Letting Agents and Property Management Companies must display their landlord and permitted tenant fees on their website or provide a link to a part of the agent’s website where a list of fees is published.
Fees must be displayed inclusive of any applicable tax or, where the amount of a fee cannot reasonably be determined in advance, a description of how that fee is calculated.
This list must include a clear description of each fee so that any person who is liable to pay it to can understand what they are paying for and what is covered by the fee or its purpose, and whether the fee relates to each dwelling-house or each tenant or landlord.
Mandatory Company Information
All Limited businesses in England and Wales are required to provide their registered name, registered address, company registration number, and place of registration on their websites.
It’s important that you keep this information up to date and that it matches precisely the records held by Companies House, even down to Company or Co, Limited or Ltd.
If the business is a partnership and there are 20 or less partners, all partners must be named, and an address provided where papers could be served. This could be a home address, a solicitor’s office, or a current place of business.
All websites must provide a privacy statement that is GDPR compliant and explains how consumer data is handled, who is responsible for protecting it, and with whom it is shared.
Visit the ICO website to find out more HERE
You must tell people if you set cookies, and clearly explain what the cookies do and why. You must also get the user’s consent. Consent must be actively and clearly given.
Find out more HERE.
Your complaints procedure must be displayed on your website and contain information on how a customer can lodge a complaint, the steps you will take to rectify it, and what they can do if you fail to provide a satisfactory outcome.
Required Listing Information
The current EPC Rating for each home must be displayed on your website.
Property listings should also disclose price, tenure, and council tax band or applicable rates in Northern Ireland.
Should you introduce a seller or a buyer to a professional service that rewards you for the referral by way of money, gifts, or any other form of benefit, this must be disclosed to them before the decision-making process.
Find out more HERE.
Tenant Deposit Scheme (TDS)
Although not legally required to be displayed on websites, and providing no evidence that an individual deposit has been registered, many agents add their scheme logos to their sites to reassure tenants and landlords.
For individual advice and support on all things related to compliance, contact:
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