Code of practice for agents

 

SpareRoom welcomes letting agencies but recognises that they’re fundamentally different from our other user groups. With that in mind we’ve put together some info to help you get the best out of SpareRoom and also set out in clear terms how we work with agents and how we expect them to behave.

The info that follows forms a Code of Practice for agents using SpareRoom.

As with all our users we expect agents to follow SpareRoom’s terms and conditions. In addition the following applies.

Registering with SpareRoom as an agent

Definition of an agent

A letting agent acts on behalf of a landlord to find tenants and/or collect rent and deal with admin. This includes agents working on a guaranteed rent or ‘rent to rent’ basis. The simple rule for working out whether you classify as a landlord or an agent is this - if you're not the owner of the property you can't list yourself as a landlord on SpareRoom.

If we find agents advertising as landlords we’ll permanently change their status to ‘agent’.

Registering your account

If you’re using SpareRoom as an agent you must select ‘agent’ as your user type. This applies if you’re a freelance agent working for a larger company.

If you’re a branch representing a larger company we only allow one account per branch and prefer the branch manager to be listed as the account holder. You may need to change this if you’ve registered in your own name. You can do that from the ‘Edit My Details’ page of your account.

Don’t worry, you’ll be able to list individual agent names on the ads you place if a particular person is managing a room or property.

PRS registration

All agents using SpareRoom must be registered with one of the two Government approved Property Redress Schemes. They are:

  1. The Property Ombudsman (https://www.tpos.co.uk)
  2. The Property Redress Scheme (https://www.theprs.co.uk)

Placing your ads

SpareRoom only allows ads for individual rooms or properties and these must be available to view or rent with the contact details provided. If you charge any fees (where these are permitted) these must be disclosed. Check the ‘Fees Apply?’ box and list what the fees are in the description.

It’s important to us that our users get to see details of the actual room they’ll be living in if they rent from you. We don’t allow generic ads. Only upload photos of the actual room or property. If you have photos similar to another property you have available, you won’t be able to use them, as this will be classed as misleading and could lead to the removal of your ad. Duplicating the same images across several ads can also make users suspicious. This will put them off contacting you but may also lead to your ad being reported by users or flagged by our moderation team.

This also applies to placing multiple ads for the same room. When users search the listings on SpareRoom, seeing the same rooms over and over again makes it impossible to find anything, resulting in a terrible user experience. Posting an ad then deleting it repeatedly and placing a new one, in an attempt to keep your room at the top of the listings, will result in your ads being removed. We developed a tool called ‘boosts’ that does the same thing without you needing to repost ads. There’s more info below in the section ‘Where your ads appear’..

You must comply with SpareRoom’s discrimination policy at all times when using our services.

Bait and switch

SpareRoom doesn’t allow ‘bait and switch’ - the practice of advertising a room that doesn’t exist in order to attract renters with the intent of selling them a different or higher priced room. In England and Wales, bait and switch is banned under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Breaking this law can result in a criminal prosecution, an unlimited fine and two years in jail.

Keeping your ads up to date

If anything changes in terms of what’s listed in your ad, please edit your ad to keep things up to date – this reduces the risk of your ads being reported as misleading and being suspended while we investigate. As soon as a room or property is let, we do ask that you remove your ad (or mark the room as let on the ad if you have more than one room available.) Only rooms or properties that are actually available to rent are allowed on the site.

Corporate logos

You can upload a company logo as your internal profile photo, so people who contact you (or you choose to contact) will see it. Logos on the ads themselves, however, are only permitted for advertisers with an ad package that includes a branded profile.

Sending and responding to messages

You can use SpareRoom to advertise rooms and properties and market them to people looking in the area they’re located in. You can’t market to people not in the areas your rooms or properties are in, purely to collect contact details (either by phone or email) or use the site for marketing your own products or services to either tenants or landlords.

Where we find any user abusing the messaging system we’ll suspend their ads while we investigate.

We have tools to help you market your rooms and properties more effectively. You can see these from the Upgrade page of your account via the Multi Ad packages link at the top of the upgrade options.

Where your ads appear

All ads that are less than 24 hours old are marked as ‘New Today’ and appear before any other ads in the search results. If you have an ad package that includes Boosts, your boosted ads will also go into the ‘New Today’ section and appear as ‘Boosted’. After that, ads are marked as ‘New’. Renewed ads are also marked as ‘New’, but don’t go back into ‘New Today’.

Site moderation

All ads and accounts are monitored by our site moderation team and are subject to review, suspension or complete closure if they’re found to be breaching any of the above. We also take into account conduct away from the site, including an agency's service reviews and any reports we receive from our users. Whenever we’re contacted by a user about a specific ad or advertiser we always investigate and take appropriate steps if necessary.

This also extends to freelance agents, where we’ll hold the account-holding agency responsible for the conduct of anyone working on their behalf, whether directly employed or freelance. If any action is deemed necessary, it will be taken against the agency concerned as well as the individual.

We expect all agents using SpareRoom to treat our users with respect and professionalism at all times.

Support and advice on using SpareRoom as an agent

We always prefer to work with agents rather than have a blanket approach. We’re aware non-compliance with any rules (whether ours or other legal or regulatory requirements) can be down to error or the actions of a single employee. But our number one priority is always user safety and making sure SpareRoom provides a positive experience for all our users.

If you have any questions about using SpareRoom as an agent or would like advice on how to make the most of your account, you can contact us.

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