A poster advertising shared ownership, promoting homes from a housing association, has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority.
The poster, for Notting Hill Genesis Shared Ownership, was on the London Underground last September and claimed: "I own a 2 bedroom apartment and pay less per month than my friends pay to rent a room in a flatshare!".
However, a complainant put it to the ASA that only a proportion of a property would be owned, so challenged whether "I own a two bedroom apartment" was misleading.
When the ASA intervened, Notting Hill Genesis said customer feedback suggested shared ownership was “complicated.” The association claimed it used specialist legal and financial advisers to help customers but felt it was inappropriate to give complex detail in the ad.
According to an ASA statement: “NHG said their objectives were to introduce who they were and what they do for prospective customers. The headline they used was paraphrased from a direct customer quote used in a case developed to promote Shared Ownership at one of their developments.”
The NHG also claimed that although a shared ownership property was not owned outright, the shared owner took on the usual responsibilities of a full owner-occupier. It said the ad’s small print stated that the claim related to shared ownership and that criteria applied.
But the ASA considered that consumers would understand the claim “I own a two bedroom apartment” alongside text which stated “and pay less per month than my friends pay to rent a room in a flatshare!” as a comparison between the monthly cost of paying rent to a landlord for a room in a shared home and the monthly cost of paying a mortgage on a property, rather than describing any more complex arrangement.
The association says that impression was furthered by the fact that the words “I own” and “pay less per month” were bolded and by additional text which stated “HOME OWNERSHIP STARTS WITH US”.
The ASA says the reference to shared ownership in small print only was not sufficient to override that impression and concludes: “Because the ad did not make clear that the advertised service was a shared ownership scheme, we concluded that the ad was misleading.”
The association has told Notting Hill Genesis to ensure that their future advertising of shared ownership properties made clear the nature of the scheme.