The listing on Hamptons’ website stated a rental price and fees of £1,200 per calendar month and £216 incl VAT admin fee per property, while adding that “other fees may apply”. The text also provided a hyperlink to a document which set out further details about related fees.
A statement submitted made by the complainant asserted that it would not have been possible to rent the property without paying additional fees, and challenged whether information about non-optional fees was sufficiently clear.
In its response, the ASA considered how consumers would interpret Hamptons’ claim in its listing. The watchdog noted that with the exception of the agent’s Bristol branch, where an all-inclusive fee was charged to customers, Hamptons charged a check-in fee which applied to all customers and was dependant on a number of factors.
However, the estate agent had failed to provide any details about the additional check-fee, or how it was calculated, on the listing page or in the document that linked to the ad, the ASA said.
Furthermore, a fixed referencing fee, which applies to all branches apart from Bristol, had not been included in the quoted price.
With the quoted price failing to provide full details of fixed fees and how other costs would be applied, the ASA forced Hamptons to remove the ad in its current form. The watchdog has requested that Hamptons’ listings include non-optional charges that can be calculated in advance, while ensuring it is clear that any other potential mandatory charges applied.