An email flyer sent out to private landlords entitled ‘How to lose your agent in 73 seconds’ has sparked anger.
The email was sent on behalf of uPad, an ARLA member which advertises on Rightmove and other portals.
One critic, who was sent the email by mistake, said: “How can Rightmove allow an account to an ‘agent’ whose marketing tactic is to appeal to private landlords with offers of ‘how to lose your agent in 73 seconds’?”
He said it would be ‘bizarre’ if Rightmove were to continue its account.
uPad launched some three years ago as an online service for landlords which cut out agents. It did not initially call itself an agent, but now styles itself a ‘self-service lettings agency’ and is an ARLA licensed agent.
It offers its services from £99, which includes advertising on the large portals, and its mantra is: ‘Landlords are better than agents at showing properties’.
Founder James Davis said: “Rightmove are aware of what we do. We are an agent, and everything that an agent does we do, albeit that we clearly have a different business model from traditional agents.”
A spokesman for Rightmove said: “We don’t comment on individual advertisers, but as with all advertisers on Rightmove, uPad will have gone through a formal vetting procedure and has to meet the criteria we set to advertise on our site.
“The criteria include full compliance with relevant consumer protection legislation. Rightmove does not allow private sellers or private landlords to advertise directly on the site: all sellers and landlords who want their properties to appear on site have to use a sales or lettings agent.
“We are aware that some agents operate under a fee-based model rather than a service-based model. However, by law we would be unable to discriminate one practice over the other by factoring an agent’s fees into our vetting procedure.”
A spokesman for Zoopla said: "We only accept properties marketed by an agent or developer. This means that a property would require an appraisal, marketing and negotiating terms from the agent. We are not aware of landlords advertising through third party sites, however if any advertiser is not behaving as such, we will investigate and act accordingly."
A spokesman for the Digital group of portals said: "We don't comment on individual cases, but we have strict criteria around who can advertise on our sites, one of which is that we look to see if the company or agent is recognised by one of the trade associations, for example ARLA or the NAEA, who we believe themselves have strict membership requirements, and/or are registered with the Property Ombudsman."
Peter Bolton King, chief executive of ARLA, said: "We are aware of the issues raised and are currently considering the matter."
Private sellers and landlords only have to look online to see how they can list their properties on the major agency portals from about £39 for rental properties and from around £300 for sales properties.
Consumers can do so by using ‘online agents’ listed by the Landlord Property Investment website, that gives private sellers and agents detailed information as to how escape ‘extortionate’ agents’ fees but still list their properties on agency portals.
The site advises: “The ‘online estate agents’ will market your property-for-sale on the biggest UK property portals, such as Rightmove, Property Finder etc. If you want to sell your house privately with the best possible chance of succeeding, then you need to list your house for sale on the biggest UK property portals, especially Rightmove.”
The site, which lists uPad amongst those that can enable landlords to list their properties, says: “I’ve personally used several of the sites listed below, and they’ve always managed to find me tenants quickly and efficiently, saving me thousands on letting agent fees over the years.”