Property: Shared Ownership


INSIGHT
Published
Nov 28th '22
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Shared ownership is a type of home ownership where a consumer takes out a mortgage on a percentage of a property and pays rent on the remaining percentage. Generally, shared ownership schemes are marketed as affordable options for those wishing to get on the property ladder.

 

  • Make clear the nature of the service

In terms of advertising, marketers should first and foremost be aware that all ads for shared ownership should make clear that they are advertising shared ownership schemes. As such, marketers should avoid claims that one can “own” or “buy” their own home if these claims are not made clearly in the context of shared ownership.

 

In 2022, the ASA investigated whether a website ad for a shared ownership scheme exaggerated the level of ownership through the claims “…part rent, part buy…” and “it’s yours” by omitting material information. Whilst the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) accepted that the level of ownership was depicted appropriately in the claim “part rent, part buy”, they considered “it’s yours” implied that consumers who partook in the scheme would have the same rights as someone who had bought the property in full. The ASA understood that there were significant differences for shared ownership buyers vs. full buyers that went beyond decorating, buying and selling shares and staying for the length of the lease.  Although the ASA accepted that they would not expect the ad to have set out all the risks or differences involved in shared ownership compared to outright ownership, information on risks such as a significant reduction in a buyer’s protection in repossession proceedings and the potential to lose their equity in those cases, were likely to be material to consumers when deciding whether to participate in the Shared Ownership scheme. As the ad omitted that information, in a context which suggested that consumers would have the same rights in relation to the part they had ‘bought’ as someone who had bought the property in full, the ASA concluded that it was misleading (Keaze Ltd, 21 September 2022).

 

  • Ensure qualifications don’t contradict

In addition, marketers are reminded that any qualifications in their ads should not contradict the overall impression of the ad. For instance, an ad that states “finally you can be a property owner” but is then qualified with information about shared ownership is likely to be seen as a contradiction rather than a clarification. In 2018, the ASA investigated an ad for Notting Hill Genesis which stated, “I own a 2 bedroom apartment and pay less per month than my friends pay to rent a room in a flatshare!”. The ad also featured small print stating that this was a shared ownership opportunity. In their response, the advertiser stated that the product itself was complex, and as such, they felt it was inappropriate to include a complicated level of detail in the ads. Furthermore, they commented that they felt they had made clear the nature of the product in the small print. However, the ASA felt that the information in the small print did little to override the overall impression given by the ad, and the complaint was upheld (Notting Hill Genesis, 20 February 2019). For further advice on qualifications, see this article here.

 

  • Include all material information

Ads for shared ownership schemes should also make clear any material information that might affect a consumer’s decision to either partake in the scheme or simply to find out more. This might include any exclusions or requirements, such as a minimum share or deposit, if there are any eligibility requirements etc.

 

In the Keaze ruling above, the ASA also investigated whether the ad omitted information relating to the costs of extending a lease. The advertiser had made clear that the legislation was complex, and that prospective owners should obtain independent legal advice – however, the ASA noted there was a question on the FAQs section which stated “What are the costs?” with an answer that included “Your lease will contain all the details and costs for the process“. As these costs were likely to be significant, the ASA considered that prospective buyers would need to know more information about them (even if they were likely to differ from person to person), including information about marriage value. As the advertiser had not included all material information under the question “What are the costs?”, the ad was found to be misleading (Keaze Ltd, 21 September 2022).

 

Source: Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP)

 

Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the ASA. CAP’s AdviceOnline entries provide guidance on interpreting the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.

 

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