ARLA challenges portal over using agents’ listings which could have breached law

ARLA Propertymark has revealed that it challenged a website over the use of agents’ listings without their knowledge.

They only knew about it because of a story in EYE last month.

ARLA said that placebuzz.com was also displaying properties without tenants’ fees, and that this was a possible breach of the Tenants Fees Act 2019 and Consumer Rights Act 2015 by the aggregator portal.

According to ARLA, after the EYE story appeared on May 15 “several members contacted us to say they neither knew about nor consented to their properties being listed.

“More importantly, it appeared tenant fees weren’t being displayed on placebuzz.com”

This, says ARLA, makes agents liable to prosecution because they are required to display tenant fees on all third-party websites.

As our story made clear, Placebuzz gets its properties on feeds from Zoopla and OnTheMarket, and ARLA said it had approached all three.

Tenant fees are now being displayed, as of this week. Although there is a ban, there are nevertheless some fees which can still be charged – for example, to replace lost keys.

ARLA said: “The Tenant Fees Act 2019 does not relieve agents of the fee transparency regulations within the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

“Indeed, Section 18 of the Act extends these provisions, placing a legal obligation on agents to ‘ensure that a list of the agents’ relevant fees are published on [any] third party website, or there is a link on that website to a part of the agent’s website where a list of those fees is published’.

“The penalty is a fine of up to £5,000.”

Neil Tillott, business director at Placebuzz, said: “Placebuzz works in partnership with leading property portals who provide us with their listing feeds on a daily basis.

“In preparation for the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act 2019 on June 1, Placebuzz developed the capacity to clearly display tenant fee information provided by our partner portals.

“There was a short delay with some partners providing tenancy information, but all listings are now fully compliant.”

www.arla.co.uk/news/june-2019/propertymark-acts-to-protect-the-legitimate-business-interests-of-its-members.aspx

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