Foxtons, the estate agent giant especially popular in London, is the subject of fresh controversy following the launch of a new class action lawsuit against the company.
The case, to be brought by legal firm CaseHub, alleges that the Foxtons’ tenant fees are illegal, citing the Consumer Rights Act and the earlier Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations.
Tenants and landlords paying over the odds?
CaseHub spokesperson Michael Green told the Guardian: “Letting agents are the gatekeepers to property, especially in London, but are abusing their position. We have ended up with the ridiculous situation whereby tenants are paying hundreds of pounds for a five-minute template contract, or for a credit check which is available on the market for £20.”
The case follows a similar class action suit launched in February, that time by landlords. In that case, a group of 55 landlords are responding to what they claim are ‘hidden fees’ charged by Foxtons, catalysed by an instance in which the agent charged a London landlord £616 for changing a lightbulb.
Foxtons claim their fees are fair
Foxtons have rejected both claims, insisting that their fees are fair and transparent. Responding to the most recent lawsuit, in a statement it said: “Foxtons employs an open and transparent approach when it comes to fees. Our tenancy administration fees are fixed and charged per tenancy (not per individual tenant) and include the cost of chauffeured viewings, negotiating the tenancy, verifying identification, obtaining references, and drawing up the tenancy agreement.”
In response to the February landlord case, it said its charges are “transparent and properly communicated,” and maintains that the case is without merit.
English law is comparatively lax when it comes to agency fees, especially in comparison with Scotland, which legislated in 2012 to ban any charges other than rent and a refundable deposit.
What do you think? Are agency fees fair for either landlords or tenants? Let us know in the comments.