A national newspaper has suggested that a leading London estate agency has been using ‘bait and switch’ tactics within the capital’s lettings market, a charge it has denied.
The Sunday Times reported the case of a young couple who turned up at a flat with keys provided by Foxtons for a £1,400-a-month two-bedroom flat in Brixton, South London, but discovered that they fitted the locks of a smaller, one-bedroom flat downstairs
Foxtons says the key swap was human error but The Sunday Times says the case of couple Naomi Trent and Anthony Regan features many of the hallmarks of a ‘bait and switch’ tactic.
This is when tenants are shown and offered desirable properties to rent but then given inferior or smaller units just before the tenancy begins.
The newspaper also reported that the original two-bedroom flat shown to the couple by Foxtons was not available to rent.
“We would like to take this opportunity to again apologise to Ms Trent and Mr Regan,” a Foxtons spokesperson told The Negotiator. “Foxtons prides itself on delivering exceptional service to our customers. On the rare occasion that our service falls short of expectation we will always strive to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of our customers.
“Ms Trent and Mr Regan 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 enquired about were all correct. We’re sorry that, as a result of human error on our part, the viewing was mistakenly for the wrong property
“As soon as the problem came to light we offered help and compensation to Ms Trent and Mr Regan. We offered to refund the tenants for all fees paid for the tenancy (£500) and also make a £1,500 gesture of goodwill. The tenants have accepted this offer. We hope to work with Ms Trent and Mr Regan to find a new property.”
The case has been criticised by industry expert Kate Faulkner who said it featured compliance issues, and also housing campaign group Generation Rent, which said it was ‘unacceptable’.