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Watchdog bans ‘misleading’ lettings ad

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned IMS Residential from claiming it is the 'number one letting agent in Derby'.

On the website, the letting agent described itself as “Derby’s no. 1 letting agent’ for seven years running and as a ‘national award winning letting agent”.

The complainant challenged whether the claims were misleading and could be substantiated.

IMS Residential (IMS) said it had been using the taglines since 2005 after providing evidence to the local paper to show that they were the number one letting agent in Derby.

IMS said it provided information that they believed demonstrated they had carried out the largest number of credit check applications, had the most number of properties listed online and had the highest number of letting boards on display in Derby.

They also provided results of a mystery shopper exercise, which was carried out after the advert appeared and stated that IMS had the most number of properties to let. IMS also provided further information to show that they registered the greatest number of deposits with one deposit scheme in Derby.

The ASA said: “We considered that the number of credit check applications to one particular credit check provider did not indicate the total number of properties let by IMS or any of their competitors. Whilst IMS did state they believed they had the most number of properties to let listed online, we considered that that would not demonstrate how many properties both IMS and their competitors had successfully let.

“We considered that, as not every estate agent was guaranteed to put a board outside a property and as boards could be unscrupulously placed by agents, counting let board presence is not an adequate method of substantiating a claim about market leadership.”

The ASA concluded that the advert was misleading and must not appear again in its current form.

“We told IMS not to state they were the number one letting agent in Derby if they did not have adequate comparative evidence to support that,” said the ASA.

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