Foxtons, the controversial London based estate agency, could be hit with a “huge” legal bill running into many thousands of pounds, according to solicitors, after a landlord launched a legal claim over what he claims is the “extortionate cost” he was being asked to pay over a light fitting repair.
Legal experts say Foxtons could be hit with a large number of claims and a big legal bill over hidden costs landlords are being charged by them.
Dr Chris Townley, who is a law lecturer at King’s College, engaged the agents Foxtons in 2011 to let and manage his property in London. After a trouble free period until 2013 Dr Townley was left dumfounded after he received a £616 bill from Foxtons for a repair to a light fitting at the flat.
In addition to the cost, the standard of repair was of concern to Dr Townley who was told he should take it up with the subcontractor who carried out the work. But when he contacted the company, Maintenance1st, he was amazed to discover the true cost of the work charged was £412.50 for the job, with the rest of the bill being made up of charges added on by Foxtons.
When Dr Townley challenged Foxtons over the matter they said they had added a £137.50 commission – 33 per cent of the subcontractor’s fee. In addition Foxtons had added a ten per cent “ad hoc management charge” plus VAT because the invoice was over £500.
Solicitors acting for Dr Townley, Leigh Day, have now begun legal action, writing to the estate agent, alleging the “commission” was hidden and not covered in the landlord’s contract. The legal firm said that thousands of other landlords will also be entitled to compensation from Foxtons, even if they did not have work carried out.
Dr Townley said he was not happy about paying the commission but thought it would be in the region of 2 or 3 per cent, but when he found out how much it actually was he was shocked.
Foxtons have said that that they were disappointed to hear their customer was dissatisfied with the service they have received, but that they were satisfied that their fees are clearly laid out within their terms and conditions and that approvals are always obtained from our landlords before works commence on their property.