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Exclusive: Foxtons asked to prove it’s competent to manage rental properties

Letting Agent Today understands that Foxtons has been asked to appear at a hearing staged by a London council to prove that it’s a “fit and proper person” to manage a landlord’s property to let.

The hearing is being held by Tower Hamlets council, considered one of the most active in its pursuit of both landlords and letting agents which it regards as not being up to scratch.

Last month Tower Hamlets authority fined Foxtons £35,000 for failing to prove to the council’s satisfaction that a house it was letting was safe for tenants.

Foxtons had been asked to provide safety documents for the property but failed to do so over an 18-month period. A statement from the council at the time said that a case at Bow magistrates court heard that Foxtons had ignored requests to provide certificates showing that the gas, electrical and fire alarm installations had been checked.

Now the council is continuing its vigilence over Foxtons.

In a letter, seen by Letting Agent Today, the council tells a landlord that “in the light of recent events” it is reviewing its decision to grant the landlord a licence.

It apologises for what may be an eight to 10 week delay in finalising the council’s decision over the licence, but says that “It has come to our attention that Foxtons have recently been responsible for certain breaches of housing law. “

The letter outlines the ‘fit and proper person’ process and gives the date of the February meeting and outlines possible options following the hearing.

If, for example, Foxtons is considered a fit and proper person then it can grant the licence for its full duration - three years under the mandatory HMO scheme or three years under the selective licensing scheme.

However, “if there are doubts about the Foxton’s competence or fitness to manage the property” a shorter probationary licence of one or two years could be granted.

The letter then says: “If the company is deemed not to be fit or competent to manage a licensed property, to refuse the application.”

The council then seeks to reassure the landlord that there is no need to be alarmed as this is a “routine matter”; the landlord will be notified of the outcome of the meeting.

A spokesperson for Foxtons told Letting Agent Today: “We can confirm that we have been invited by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to attend a meeting in relation to its licensing scheme. We look forward to that meeting and are fully committed to working with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets as a partner to help it meet its objectives in this important area.”

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