TV presenters among 100 landlords set to sue Foxtons

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The TV presenters Lynn Faulds Wood and her husband John Stapleton are set to join up to 100 landlords in an action against Foxtons.

The pair, who are former presenters of Watchdog and specialise in consumer rights, are among the landlords who may form a group action being organised by  law firm Leigh Day which is alleging that landlords have faced “secret” mark-ups on repair bills.

The couple have used Foxtons for a property they own in London.

Faulds Wood told the Mail on Sunday she felt “cheated” after learning that Foxtons was accused of charging “secret commissions” and produced emails.

In one, sent to Stapleton on May 28 this year, Foxtons said the cost for materials, shower enclosure, shower door, a mould resistant silicon seal and disposal of old enclosure and door would cost £958 plus VAT. Labour by two plumbers for one day would be £810 plus VAT.

Stapleton replied: “As you know our man resolved this problem for less than £400. Your recommended plumbers were proposing a charge of more than four times that and that didn’t include re-decoration.

“. . . [It] has merely confirmed my belief that there is something worrying about the relationship between Foxtons and their favoured contractors.”

Leigh Day, which says it has received more than 100 inquiries, is using Twitter, see above, to recruit landlords.

Leigh Day launched its bid for a group action – which it says could cost Foxtons up to £42m – after taking on the case of one landlord, Dr Chris Townley, a law lecturer, who discovered alleged mark-ups on a contractor’s repair bill.

Leigh Day claims that these were “hidden” fees and that other landlords with contracts with Foxtons could be entitled to compensation, even if they have not had repair work done.

The firm has also said that other letting agents could be dragged into the dispute if they also charge mark-ups.

Leigh Day is also using Twitter to promote a short video, below, about the case in which it puts forward its arguments.

Foxtons insists it is open and clear about its fees.

For what it has to say about earning commission from suppliers, see clause 3.3 in its terms and conditions http://www.foxtons.co.uk/landlord/terms/terms_and_conditions.html

The voluntary Private Rented Sector Code of Practice, approved by ARLA, NALS and RICS among others, and with an introduction by housing minister Brandon Lewis, says this: “You should disclose any commission you might receive from the contractor at the time that estimates are provided to the landlord.”

The code, published last autumn, is however silent on agents’ mark-ups charged to clients.

It does say that agents should check for conflicts of interest before accepting instructions from landlords.

http://www.arla.co.uk/media/611166/private-rented-sector-code.pdf

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7 Comments

  1. smile please

    Althought taht is an incredibly high estimate, You have to figure in getting a quick reliable builder / plumber in London.

    And they always have the right to say no to the works (as it looks like they did).

     

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  2. MF

    Can’t agree with you on that Smile Please.  I’ve managed for over 25 years to get professional work done at reasonable market rates.  I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s my job and it’s what I’m paid for in my management fee.

    Dealing with maintenance contractors can and is extremely time consuming, but the result is happy landlords and happy tenants.  Much better than angry landlords viewing my agency negatively and feeling strongly that I’ve ripped them off.

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    1. smile please

      Bow to your knowledge on it MF as i dont offer lettings but seems a bit of a witch hunt against Foxtons in my opinion.

      They get a quote, if the landlord does not like they can get their own. Don’t really see the issue.

      Even in the youtube video above the chap bringing the law suit against them acknowledges that its in the terms and conditions that Foxtons may get a commission.

      Ethically probably wrong, but illegal and warranting a legal action against them? I think heavy handed, Everybody knows Foxtons are not cheap but they are good at what they do which is why you pay a premium.

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  3. agent orange

    Good at what they do???? do you work for them Smile please??

    I had a valuation from Foxtons recently (among others). They turned up late, walked mud all over my new carpets, brought a lettings girl with them who tried to persuade me to let it (even though it was a rental that I was looking to sell on) then under priced it by over 25K compared to the three other valuations. When i mentioned this he immediately upped his figure by 50K and promised me he could get this because they are open later than anybody else.

    personally, I would rather peel of my finger nails than use them.

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    1. smile please

      No i don’t work for them.

      I think with the revenue they bring in they are doing better than okay!

      Sounds like a bad experience for you but they cant always be that bad, 2.5% fees in the capital, and their business is growing year on year. Probably the most successful mainstream agent in London

      Foxtons, the firm they hate but use anyway!

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  4. agent orange

    I do give them credit for their brand marketing, and in London, certainly they are very successful. Come out of the city however and they struggle. Horses for courses perhaps.

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  5. Paul H

    The key to property management is to show the landlords that you are looking out for their best interests AT ALL TIMES. We have never taken a cut of any maintenance work and always negotiate hard with all contractors.

    In the long term you will gain more money from the repeat business, taking a cut is just not necessary in my opinion.

     

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