Following a fine of £35,000 Estate agent Foxtons has been asked to appear at a hearing to be held by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets asking it to show that it is a “fit and proper person” [organisation] to manage property to let.
Leading up to the fine, Foxtons failed to provide safety information required for council inspections of private rental HMO properties. These are properties requiring a mandatory licence, where there are more than three storeys and where bathrooms or kitchens are shared by five people or more.
The Foxton’s fine was imposed by Bow Magistrates Court when the agent pleaded guilty to failing to manage a landlord’s property within the legal regulations, when acting as a managing agent for the landlord.
Environmental health and trading standards officers from the council investigated a house in Whitechapel, and for a period of 18 months had asked Foxtons to provide certificates showing that gas, electrical and fire alarm installations had been checked, together with details of residents and their ultimate landlord client.
Foxtons failed to comply within this time, and although the property was believed to be in good condition, a charge was brought under Section 236(1) of the Housing Act 2004 for failing to comply with a notice served under Section 235 of the same Act to provide the information.
Foxtons told the court it prided itself on its reputation and was remorseful about the failings that led to the offence. The court said it took account of Foxtons size, profits and the ease with which it could have provided the information when setting the fine.
Deputy mayor and cabinet member for housing at Tower Hamlets Council, Sirajul Islam said:
“This case has sent a very strong message out to local landlords and agents. They must cooperate with the council so we can check safety certificates and issue licences for houses in multiple occupation.”
A spokesman for Foxtons said it was unable to comment but it confirmed it had been asked to attend another hearing and that it is appealing against the court’s decision.