The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has told a firm offering services to landlords to stop using a particular claim in an advert.
A claim on the website www.landlordaction.co.uk, which promoted services for landlords with problem tenants, stated “Paul Shamplina – Founder. Paul has worked within in [sic] the legal system since 1997 – specialising in landlord/tenant disputes. As a certified bailiff, he has acted on behalf of landlords with bad tenants, and has enormous expertise in the process and in court proceedings”.
The complainant, who worked in the property industry, challenged whether the claim that Paul Shamplina was a certified bailiff was misleading and could be substantiated.
Landlord Action Ltd (Landlord Action) responded to the ASA by phone. They stated that Paul Shamplina had been certified as a bailiff in the past, and pointed out that the ad did not explicitly claim that he still was. They said they realised nevertheless that the ad might be misleading, but declined to make any changes or provide a written response.
The ASA acknowledged that the ad did not explicitly state that Paul Shamplina was currently a certified bailiff. However, it considered that the claim “As a certified bailiff …”, when used to describe the founder of a company offering debt recovery services, was ambiguous and likely to be misinterpreted by consumers to have that meaning.
Because the ASA understood that Paul Shamplina was no longer a certified bailiff, and because it considered that the ad did not make that clear, it concluded that the claim was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation).
The ASA said the claim must not appear again in its current form. The ad watchdog told Landlord Action to ensure that their marketing claims were not misleading.