The OFT says it issued formal notifications to the firms in January about advertising for sale and rent back services. It asked the firms to substantiate claims made in their adverts or change them – typical statements included that residents are able to live in properties for life after they have sold them, benefit from low rent or buy back their homes at any point.
The firms have now agreed to stop or amend publicity. Six websites – propertysaleforcash.com, myhomerescue.co.uk, UKsaleandrentback.com, skpropertysolutions.com, fullhouseuk.com and quicksalefast.co.uk – have been taken down, and sell-quick.co.uk, nationalpropertybuyers.co.uk, and quickpurchase.co.uk have all amended their sites.
The three remaining firms – n-and-b-property-buyers.co.uk, sell-your-house-quick-help.com, and rapidhomesale.org – have since ceased trading.
The OFT says it has drawn a further two firms to the FSA’s attention.
OFT senior director of consumer protection Heather Clayton says: “The unsubstantiated claims used by some sale and rent back firms have been particularly concerning since they were targeting consumers suffering financial difficulties and at risk of losing their homes. We are pleased that these firms have agreed to change or remove their advertising.”
The OFT says there is little reliable data on the size of the sale and rent back industry, but it says there is likely that there are upwards of 1,000 firms, together with an unknown number of non-professional landlords, who have conducted about 50,000 transactions to date.