A listing for a house, appearing on Manchestersalerent.co.uk, seen on 31 July, included the text “4 bedroom Detached house for sale in Rackenford”. The listing included the full address for the house and text below that included “***VIRTUAL VIEWING TOUR *** STUNNING 4 bedroomed DETACHED property in GARDENS AND GROUNDS …”. The listing included directions to the house, full details of the property and a box that included the text “Available” and “Request Detail”.
IssueThe complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading because the property was not available to buy.
ResponseManchestersalerent.co.uk did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by Manchestersalerent.co.uk’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 1.7 Any unreasonable delay in responding to the ASA's enquiries will normally be considered a breach of the Code. (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
We considered that consumers would understand from the description of the property in the ad, combined with a box including the text “Available” and “Request Detail” that the property was available for purchase. We understood that the property had not been on the market since 2017 and remained on the website despite several requests to remove it. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Manchestersalerent.co.uk to ensure that it did not display listings for properties that were not available for purchase. We referred the matter to CAP’s Compliance team.