A portfolio landlord has reported online lettings agency LettingaProperty.com to the Advertising Standards Authority, claiming its fees comparison webpage is ‘misleading’.
James Lace, who has a portfolio of properties in London and elsewhere but also holds a senior information management role at a large media organisation, says he was casting around for a letting agency to manage his portfolio when he came across LettingaProperty.com.
He read the agency’s fees comparison page, which is based on a submitted postcode, that showed its charges to be considerably lower than competitors including Belvoir, Connells, Countrywide, Dexters, Foxtons and Hamptons.
Lace tells The Neg that he became wary of the claims and rang the agencies involved directly to ask what they charged for tenant-find only and full management, the two comparables used by LettingaProperty.com, which charges £149 for the former and £99 per month for the latter, both including VAT.
He says that, for example, it claims that Belvoir charges £1,200 for a tenant find and 14.4% for full management, whereas his enquiries found that the agency charges just £275 for a tenant find.
Similarly, he says Purplebricks is said to charge £680 for a tenant find and 10.5% for full management when he was quoted £580 and 8.90%.
“I’m infuriated by their misdirection [within the page] and feel other landlords should know,” he says.
LettingaProperty’s Head of Digital, Andy Lacey (pictured), responds: “The purpose of our comparison page is to highlight letting agency fees to landlords, on a like-for like basis, based on accurate data from agency websites.
“We understand it can be difficult for landlords to make an accurate comparison of agency fees.
“This is partly due to inconsistency in describing letting services across the industry, along with the age-old tradition of showing fees exclusive of VAT, which contravenes ASA guidelines.
“In our experience, landlords value the clarity of our fixed-fee plans, which are inclusive of VAT, with prices remaining consistent nationwide.
“To make the basis of the comparison clearer, the page has been updated to show the criteria used and the date that fees were compiled.”