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Foxtons fined over unclear ‘administration fees’ charged to tenants

Camden Council takes estate agency to court

21 September, 2017

ESTATE agent chain Foxtons has been hit with fines of £18,000 after four Camden-based branches were accused of not properly explaining what their “administrat­ion fees” covered.

Camden Council took action against the firm in 2015 over the use of the term “administration fee” for a £420 charge to tenants and landlords – without explaining what the fee was for. Under law, agents must explain exactly what the fees cover. A court heard that after council trading standards officers warned Foxtons it was in breach of the law, the company failed to alter literature given to customers.

The council issued penalty charges to four branches in the borough – but Foxtons appealed against the fines in October last year.

Now, the Upper Tier Tribunal, which deals with legal disputes of this type, has ruled that the council was right to issue the fines and ordered Foxtons to pay the Town Hall £18,000. The firm will now have to give a clear breakdown of what the costs go towards.

Labour housing chief Councillor Pat Callaghan said: “We are delighted with this judgment as it has clarified what letting agents must do when publicising their fees. Because of our successful appeal, customers can now fully understand what they are liable for and make informed choices and proper comparisons with other letting agents about fees charged. “This judgment gives clarity to trading standards officers nationally when enforcing fees.”

It helped ensure the market place was consistent for all letting agents and prospective clients, she added.

A Foxtons spokes­person said: “Foxtons employs an open and transparent approach when it comes to fees and we respect the court’s decision. We are happy to work with local councils to ensure we comply with their guidelines and are pleased to finally be provided with these.”

The firm would not comment further on what it meant by stating the Town Hall had not previously provided guidelines, leading to the case going to court.

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