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.”