A letting agency that has been the subject of a BBC investigation and has gone into liquidation in controversial circumstances has now had one of its ads banned by the Advertising Standards Authority.
In October, Letting Agent Today reported that Lancaster Property Network Management - which had entered voluntary liquidation the previous month - had been the subject of a ‘Rogue Traders’ sting for the BBC Watchdog programme.
At the time a spokesman for the BBC told the Lancaster Guardian: “Rogue Traders have been investigating a local lettings agent John Sanderson, who runs LPNM. The team investigate why he has left landlords and tenants in the lurch owing them many thousands of pounds.”
In November we reported that Sanderson had told the same paper that he was preparing to sue the BBC for defamation of character and loss of earnings.
The firm is in the news again this morning with an announcement from the Advertising Standards Authority that LPNM’s website www.onestoplancaster.com, which handles student accommodation, that one of its advertisements “must not appear again in its current form.”
The ASA was contacted after an advertisement for the website was seen on October 13. The complainant alleged that some properties were listed on the site without the landlords’ consent; the complainant challenged whether the website misleadingly implied the properties listed were available to rent.
In this morning’s ruling, the ASA says: “Lancaster Property Network (Management) Ltd trading as One Stop Lancaster said that they could not provide evidence that their listed properties had the owners’ consent because that information was confidential.”
But the ASA considered that “students interested in renting a property from One Stop Lancaster were likely to assume that permission to list and rent out properties had been gained from the owners. However, One Stop Lancaster declined to provide any documentary evidence to that effect. Because we had not seen evidence that One Stop Lancaster had permission to rent out the listed properties by the relevant owners, we considered the ad was misleading.”
The authority now says the ad must not appear again in its current form. It has told One Stop Lancaster not to advertise properties for rent unless there is documentary evidence that it has the consent to do so from the owners.
* Earlier today we ran a story referring to another ASA decision about the Hugo West agency; this was as a result of the ASA erroneously releasing information on its judgement against the agency's advertisment, which had been originally announced last year.