Foxtons in legal battle with landlord following bad tenant experience
Estate agency giant Foxtons have recently been taken to court by a landlord client following a row over unpaid commission after complaining that the previous tenants had trashed his property.
The dispute began in 2007 when private landlord Jonathan Bloom instructed Foxtons to let out a house he owned in South Hampstead. He said he was “unsatisfied” with the occupants it proposed, who were “young graduates” and not the “quality corporate tenants” he says the estate agency told him it would look for.
So he “reluctantly agreed” to them moving into the property, as he didn’t want it to remain empty, but when he visited the house Mr Bloom claims that he found “damage to expensive furniture, drug paraphernalia and pornography on display”. A neighbour had also complained to him about the tenants “running naked in the mews and being very noisy and a nuisance”.
After evicting the occupants in September 2008 and spending thousands of pounds refurbishing the property Foxtons invoiced Mr Bloom to cover the commission for the remaining six months of the 18-month contract. But Bloom, who claims there was an agreement he could break off the contract after a year if he chose to end the tenancy, refused to pay it.
Five years later, after no correspondence at all from Foxtons, Mr Bloom’s ex-wife forwarded an email onto him which enclosed a draft court claim for unpaid commission, at the sum of £1,749.82.
He replied to the email, disputing the claim, and says the next time he heard from them was in January, enclosing a judgment against him from Northampton county court. The judgement was “in default”, meaning that the case had gone against him because he had not entered a defence. The court documents had been sent to his old business address where he had been located at the time of the tenancy agreement.
Mr Bloom, 46, who lives in Hampstead and also a lawyer for a hedge fund, said: “Without ever serving a claim on me they secured a judgment in default. I had to tell my firm and the Financial Conduct Authority. This is extremely embarrassing and regrettable.”
He went onto say that he wanted to warn other landlords about his experience with the estate agency, saying:
“Their legal department would eat anyone for breakfast.
People do not stand a chance against them. If I wasn’t a lawyer with the means to defend myself it would be very hard.”
Foxtons offered to set aside the judgment in February, but Mr Bloom wanted some of his costs paid and proceeded to court. At Barnet county court last Thursday the judge set aside the earlier ruling, and an award was made in his favour for a small amount of his costs, thought to be in the region of £800.
As a landlord the most important thing for you to know is that your property and existing tenants are not being made vulnerable to other landlords previous rogue tenants.
Using a letting agent can be a fantastic way to manage your property portfolio, but if they are not using Lifestyle Referencing via LRS then they could be risking your investment, as well as your existing tenants well-being.
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