A Fox(tons) in the headlights...

They may be good at selling houses, but Foxtons are no strangers to being the subject of litigation.

In the late 2000's the High Court upheld a decision of the regulator from 2008 and found in favour of the Office of Fair Trading that Foxtons' letting terms were unfair to Landlord customers, and Foxtons went on to re-write their lettings terms removing the unfair terms as far as necessary.

More recently it would seem that Foxtons have upset a client, and that particular client happened to be a Lecturer at King's College London. Dr Chris Townley now lectures in Law, having previously worked at Clifford Chance LLP, and more recently for Foxtons' old friend the Office of Fair Trading.

Dr Townley apparently owns a property in Forest Hill, which Foxtons were the appointed lettings and managing agents for. When Dr Townley received a bill for £616.00 from Foxtons for some shoddy work changing a light fitting, he contacted Foxtons' contractors directly only to find out that they had charged the mere sum of £412.50 for their slapdash work, meaning Foxtons added charges of £137.50 commission, and VAT to the final bill.

Needless to say Dr Townley was not too pleased with this situation, having been unaware that such inflated charges were added by Foxtons for essentially calling the contractor and arranging their attendance at the property, and with the help of his newly found legal team has served Foxtons with a formal letter before action, with the intention of issuing a group action against Foxtons on behalf of as many Landlords as will join in the proceedings.

The media has reported that Foxtons could face a legal bill of £42,000,000.00 if they lose the litigation. Certainly individual landlords stand to recover in the region of £15,000.00 or more and with some 19,000 landlords on their books Foxtons will need deep pockets if the Court finds in the favour of the Claimants.

In any industry providing services transparency in respect of charges and quality is essential.

Foxtons have suffered at the hands of the Courts previously for their lack of transparency in hiding unfair clauses in the small print in their lettings agreements. From the little information yet available on the current issues, it would be unwise to pass opinion at this stage, but if they have hidden inflated charges or penalties in the small print of their lettings agreements, the group action could be a costly exercise for the London based estate agency.

If you are a Landlord and you would like advice about the terms of your agreement with your Lettings Agent, or any charges levied by them which you are unsure about, contact Ben Colenutt on 0330 2000 063 or ben@jamiesonalexander.co.uk

For more information on the property related services Jamieson Alexander offer check out our Property Page.

Ben Colenutt

Jamieson Alexander


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