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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Foxtons denies bait-and-switch after tenant couple rent “dud” flat

A national newspaper story suggests that a couple seeking an apartment to rent in Brixton were signed up to the wrong property by letting agency Foxtons - and only realised this was the case after being given the keys and trying to move in.

Foxtons strenuously denies using a tactic known as bait-and-switch - advertising a property to attract tenants, then substituting a less appealing property after customers sign up.

The story revolves around Naomi Trent and husband Anthony Regan, who claim they were shown a £1,400 a month two bedroom property in south London by a Foxtons agent. The property was visited in person by Regan who showed a video of it to his wife.

After signing a 12 month tenancy and paying £3,500 - on which £500 was a fee for Foxtons - the couple were handed keys, but not to the flat they had visited. Instead it was a smaller property on a lower floor of the same conversion, described by the newspaper as "a dud.".

“The downstairs flat was not what we were looking for at all and it wasn’t a good deal at £1,400 a month” Trent is quoted as telling the Sunday Times.

“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” she continued.

Foxtons has blamed human error and, following the newspaper’s intervention, it has returned the couple’s £500 fee and has given compensation of £1,500.

The agency told the newspaper: “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.” 

  • jeremy clarke

    It seems nowadays that nobody is allowed to make a mistake without fear of being reported to the press. No mention of how the story went through internal complaints procedure, if it was even used?

  • icon

    Sounds completely plausible to me.. sounds like an honest error easily made if they have multiple flats in same block
    But in today’s world of landlord and agent bashing it’s any excuse

    Algarve  Investor

    Completely plausible? Really?

    I'm all for landlords and agents getting a fair hearing - and I don't think they do from the press or certain campaigning groups - but in this situation I find it hard to believe it was mere human error. Even more so when you consider the agency involved!

    I also wonder if you would be so forgiving of an honest error if it was, say, an MP involved. We can't have it both ways.

     
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    As someone who does not Twitter or read Facebook or generally believe what I read in any newspaper/ or especially on BBC - I am amazed how hung up people get on so called
    " Twitter storms" or the faux outrage from the snowflake generation. How on earth did most people get through WW1 or WW2 without a total nervous collapse. They just got on with life and its dreadful risks. Most survived too.

    Algarve  Investor

    Ah yes, those halcyon days when PTSD was written off as shellshock and anyone not willing to join up for the fight was vilified. Happy days.

    I'm also not sure you've read the story - they had every right to be aggrieved in this case. There was no faux outrage or Twitter storm.

    Also, in my experience, I've found the so-called 'snowflake generation' to be no more prone to faux outrage than the older one. Plenty of baby boomers who can give it out but can't take it.

    Anyway, stories like this do no good to the reputation of the lettings industry and they should be called out as such. That doesn't automatically mean that all landlords and letting agents are dishonest sharks, it just means that in this case wrongdoing was carried out. Mistakes can be learned from and procedures put in place to stop it from happening again. Seems fair, no?

     
  • Suzy OShea

    So this couple paid £3,500 for a flat that they did not want but received only £2,000. What happened to the other £1,500. And are they now stuck in a minimum six month tenancy agreement which legally they can't break? So where is the remedy?

    On the other hand, I'd like to know where as a tenant, you can rent a two-bedroomed flat in Brixton for only £1,400 a month? Tenants need to apply a dose of reality too!

  • icon

    Jackanory. I believe the tenants on this one.

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