Prominent residential property and tenant law expert Tessa Shepperson says a class action against Foxtons alleging unfair charges to landlords will lead to the agency having its come uppance.
On her respected Landlord Law Blog, Shepperson says an action of this kind “is long overdue.”
Shepperson writes: “Because letting agents ARE in a position of trust. Landlords assume that they are acting in their best interests. The shock and distress suffered by a landlord after discovering what had been done to him, can be seen from the reaction of Dr Chris Townley, the landlord at the centre of the new Foxtons case:
‘I was incredulous when I found out that Foxtons took commissions from anyone working on my property without my consent. I felt betrayed.’ I think most landlords in his position will feel the same. I would suggest that this type of reaction is, in itself, proof that this sort of thing is unfair.”
She says that letting agents are in a position of trust so should make it crystal clear to their customers exactly what they are changing and how it is calculated. She insists that a line in the small print of their terms and conditions is not sufficient to discharge agents’ fiduciary duty.
She concludes by acknowledging that it is unfair to tar all letting agents with the same brush, however: “There are many excellent and honourable letting agents, who would scorn to take up to 33% commission from traders without specific authority from their landlords, or to charge both landlords and tenants the best part of £500 each for something which is effectively just a clerical exercise. What about THEM?
“How do they feel when they see companies who charge these extortionate fees prospering and ‘getting away with it’? Should they not be praised for standing up for what is right and just and only charging what they think is fair?”