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Agent says Trading Standards CPR guidance "is complete mess"

A High Street estate agent has branded the latest guidance to the industry on Consumer Protection Regulations as “a complete mess” and “nothing short of ridiculous.”

Jonathan Newall, director of SaleBoards Estate Agents in Exeter, says his company’s situation shows the problem.

“We pride ourselves on being open and honest with our fees, but the new legislation now states that our fees have to be advertised inclusive of VAT” he says.


“Since VAT was introduced in 1973, agents fees have always been quoted exclusive of VAT and that is what the public have become used to. So our usual fee of 1.25 per cent + VAT now has to be advertised at 1.5 per cent including VAT, which in my mind makes a very competitive fee sound no better than typical” he adds.

Newall says that SaleBoards - like many other companies - has now decided to avoid any confusion by removing any reference to fees from its advertisements.  

“A quick browse of last week’s local newspaper revealed that only one out of 23 agents included details of their fees in their adverts” he claims.  

“Given that the the Consumer Protection Regulations are supposed to make things better rather than worse for the consumer, it seems they may have fallen short of achieving their intended goal.  The whole situation seems nothing short of ridiculous.”

  • Glenn Ackroyd

    This comes from the Consumer Bill Act and the Committee for Advertising Practise which states that fees should be stated and shown inclusive of VAT from May 2015.

    So this is very old news.

    Consumers will take time to adjust and non-compliant agents will still either quote exc VAT rates, or not publish rates on their websites.

    But over time, consumers will adjust and the market will be more transparent.

    Agents need to embrace change if they are going to change the public perception of the industry. I'm sure lots of people had the same concerns pre-decimalisation.

  • jeremy clarke

    To make it even more confusing - our local TSO advises that the legislation only covers fees displayed in the agent's office and on the agents' own web sites; therefore allowing exclusive fees to be quoted on Rightmove micro sites and on printed terms of business???

  • Trevor Mealham

    Law's the law. It's intended to allow sellers to know all their bill.

    Jeremy: If shown on a FS board then it has to show incl VAT which I have from main property TS officers. The consumer message has to be consistent.

    The latest guidance is pretty good. Agents future will be understanding regulations to guide their clients. The future as I see and especially on lettings will be consumers having fair rights be it via an agent or landlord direct.

    This could entice landlords back to agents rather than face potential hefty fines.

  • Chris Arnold

    Why the dramatic headline? If any agency has to worry about whether fees are inclusive or exclusive vat, they can't have much else to offer other than price! It's presumably a level playing field for all agents. It suggests the consumer isn't smart enough to work out that the perceived increase in fees is about vat now being included! I think you will find they are smart enough & pitching a price excl. Vat is an obscure attempt to fool some of the people some of the time.


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