In a practice known as “bait-and-switch” a London couple claim they were show a better flat than the one they ended up with.
As reported in the Sunday Times, the couple were seeking to rent a flat in Brixton but were signed up to a different property than the one they viewed. They only realised the error when they went to try the keys in the door of the flat they expected to occupy, only to discover the one they had paid for was one floor below.
Foxtons has strenuously denied that they were using the “bait-and-switch” tactic, one known to have been used in a difficult market, as now, showing a more desirable property to attract tenants, then substituting it for a lower grade one.
Tenants Naomi Trent and her husband Anthony Regan claim they were shown the £1,400 a month two bedroom property in Brixton agents Foxtons, but after signing a 12 month tenancy agreement and paying £3,500, including the £500 Foxtons fee, the couple were given the keys to a different one.
They discovered the keys did not fit the flat they expected, but they did fit the one downstairs which was a one-bed flat and poor value for the £1,400 per month they had paid. They told the Sunday Times:
“The downstairs flat was not what we were looking for at all and it wasn’t a good deal at £1,400 a month”.
“The agent started badgering us with calls and emails saying we would lose the flat if we didn’t sign the lease straight away. It all felt very urgent. … Everything was done through an online portal so we didn’t have the opportunity to ask questions. It was a standard rental agreement with no details of how many bedrooms or anything else about the property” they said.
However, Foxtons said the agent was a new staff member and blamed human error for the mistake.
Foxtons has since returned the couple’s £500 fee and has given them compensation of £1,500 which they have used as a despot for another flat.
The agent told the Sunday Times:
“We would like to take this opportunity to again apologise to Ms Trent and Mr Regan. They were shown around a flat by a new member of staff.
“The cost, tenancy agreement and paperwork for the one-bed property the couple initially inquired about were all correct. But, as a result of human error on our part, the [viewing] was mistakenly for the wrong property.”©LandlordZONE® – legal content applies primarily to England and is not a definitive statement of the law, always seek professional advice.