The Advertising Standards Authority has banned an advertisement calling properties for sale ‘park homes’ when the buildings themselves could not be lived in year-round, as park homes usually are.
In May this year a complainant spotted a press advertisement for Lakeside Country Park, which described units for sale as “the perfect holiday accommodation in a peaceful and scenic location superbly surrounded by stunning countryside...Park Features 12 month holiday licence...Lodges are available for holiday use 365 days of the year”.
The complainant told the ASA that it understand the land on which the units were built was designated for holiday lets only and could have homes for permanent residency.
Cotswold Grange Investments Ltd, trading as Lakeside Country Park, told the ASA that “park home” was an industry term for a mobile home that conformed to British Standard BS3632, and was not defined in law.
The firm claimed a park home could be sited anywhere, and it was the licence of the land on which it stood which determined whether it could be used as a permanent residence. Park homes which stood on a site with a residential licence were protected under the Mobile Homes Act 1983, giving residents security of tenure. Therefore, they could be used as a sole or main residence without breaching the terms of the licence agreement.
The company also told the ASA that it would amend future advertisements to say “holiday lodge/holiday park home” and would in future only advertise in holiday magazines.
In addition to citing experts saying the original advertisement was not misleading, the firm also surveyed 100 people at a trade show, and 87 people understood immediately that the site was for holiday and not residential use.
However, the ASA said it understood that the term “park home” was commonly used to refer to a mobile home that could be used as the leaseholder’s main or sole residence.
Given the commonly accepted understanding of the term, it considered that many people who saw the ad, who were likely to have some interest in and knowledge of mobile homes, would understand “park home” as referring to a unit that could be used as a main residence.
“Because consumers were likely to understand from the ad that the units advertised could be used as sole residences when that was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading” it concluded, adding that the advertisement should not appear in that form again.