Zoopla has closed a back door that lets online letting agencies that do not manage properties to allow landlords to advertise for tenants.
The firm wants to stop landlords managing their own properties from advertising direct to prospective tenants.
Online agencies already on the portal will have their listings removed and direct advertisers not offering property management will face a ban.
The move comes as traditional high street letting agencies complained about the direct listings, which they regard as unfair competition undercutting their fees.
Zoopla’s decision comes in the wake of a similar ban by Agents Mutual, a new property portal funded and managed by leading estate and letting agents as a rival to Rightmove.
Zoopla will only allow advertisers that meet strict guidelines:
• They must operate as an estate or letting agent, not an aggregator
• The firm must draft property details for a seller or landlord
• The firm must deal with inquiries directly with no call forwarding to landlords or vendors
• The firm should act as an intermediary between the parties during transaction
• The firm cannot offer a ‘listing only’ service
Firms failing to meet the guidelines have until the end of December to change their business model. Those that do not will be removed from Zoopla.
A spokesperson said: “We are carefully reviewing the business models of all members to ensure that they comply with our new guidelines.
“We will be advising any that don’t of what changes would need to be made by them in order to remain on our sites.
“Any party that is no longer a member will be prevented from using our brands in their marketing materials or on their websites. We have set up a dedicated compliance team to monitor these businesses and also ensure that all members are only advertising properties that are currently available.”
One casualty of the decision is TV property guru Sarah Beeny’s Tepilo site, but Tepilo is on Rightmove.
A Rightmove spokesman said: “Tepilo meets our terms and conditions of membership as well as any industry rules and regulations.”