The website www.houser.co.uk, a property listing website, seen on 19 January 2019, featured a five-bedroomed, detached house for sale in Romsey, SO51. The listing was headed “Available” and showed various photographs of the interior and exterior of the property. Text which stated “Sale Price: £1,050,000” appeared at the top of the page.
The complainant, who said the photographs, description and price related to when the property was previously on the market in 2016, challenged whether the photographs, property description and price were misleading.
Person(s) unknown trading as houser.co.uk did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.
The ASA noted that there was no registered legal entity behind the website houser.co.uk. The website stated a postal address in Romford, Essex and generic email addresses. Fasthosts Internet Ltd, who provided a web hosting service for houser.co.uk, also agreed to forward on the ASA’s correspondence to them.
The ad watchdog was concerned by houser.co.uk’s lack of response to any of these approaches and apparent disregard for the Code, which was in breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). It reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to the ASA’s enquiries and told them to do so in future.
The ASA said it considered consumers would understand from the ad that the price, photographs and information about the property all applied when the ad was seen. The ad regulator understood from the complainant, however, that the information dated back to when the property was previously on the market in 2016 and no longer applied. The ASA had received nothing from the advertiser to demonstrate otherwise. It therefore concluded that the ad was misleading, breaching CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.1 (Misleading advertising).
The ASA said the ad must not appear again in its current form. It told houser.co.uk to ensure that information they published about property, for example its availability, price, photographs and other information, were accurate in future. The ASA referred the matter to CAP’s Compliance team.