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ASA bans ‘misleading’ shared ownership ad

Written by: Emma Lunn
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated allegations about ‘misleading’ advertising for shared ownership homes.

The ASA looked at three issues regarding an advert on a website owned by the National Housing Federation. Ownership of the website has since transferred to Keaze Ltd.

The advert was published in March 2021 and claimed that shared ownership was “another way to buy your home. You buy a percentage and pay rent on the rest”.

The homepage included a list of questions and answers, including “Part mortgage / part rent. How does that work? Shared ownership is part buy, part rent. This means you will have a mortgage on the share you own, and pay rent on the remaining share … You’ll have a lease, which is essentially the contract for the share you’ve bought. It means you’ve got the right to keep your home for a certain number of years (usually at least 125) …”

Other pages explained costs, staircasing, leases and being a leaseholder. The advert invited consumers to take a quiz to see if shared ownership could be right for them and also featured a search tool which enabled consumers to search for shared ownership properties for sale.

Campaigning group challenge

Campaigning platform Shared Ownership Resources challenged whether the claims “…part rent, part buy…” and “It’s yours” were misleading because they exaggerated the level of ownership attained by those who took on a shared ownership arrangement.

The group also challenged the claim “You can usually staircase … all the way up to 100%”, saying it was misleading because “staircasing” was uncommon.

Shared Ownership Resources also said the ad “misleadingly omitted information relating to the costs of extending a lease, particularly once there were fewer than 80 years remaining.”

The ASA upheld the complaints about exaggerating the level of ownership attained by shared ownership and the claim that lease information was misleading. But it didn’t agree that the staircasing claims were misleading.

The ASA stated that: “We considered that consumers would understand from the claim “It’s yours” that they would have the same rights as a consumer who had bought the property in full in relation to the part they had ‘bought’ (their equity share), notwithstanding that the housing association would also have certain rights in relation to owning the remainder.

“We understood that while shared ownership leases were sometimes free from some of the usual tenant obligations associated with private renting, they nonetheless had their own restrictions not commonly applicable to property which was purchased outright.”

Regarding the complaint about the advert not including the costs of extending a lease, the advertising watchdog said: “Given that the site had dedicated sections relating to what costs were involved and what was a leasehold property, and given the potential significance of the costs of renewing a lease, the ad could and should have included information making clear that those costs could be significant, as well as information relating to the marriage value and the increasing cost of renewal as the lease length reduced.”

The ASA concluded that the ad “must not appear again in the form complained of”.

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