The tenant said that, when agreeing the let, he queried parking arrangements with the agent who said he would have use of the driveway. At the tenant’s request, this was noted within the tenancy agreement. On the day the tenancy was due to start the tenant met the landlord at the property. The landlord told the tenant that the driveway was shared and he could not have exclusive use it as the downstairs tenant also had a right to use it, in their lease. The landlord painted a line down the middle of the driveway to indicate shared parking. Neither space was large enough to park a car.
The landlord painted a line down the middle of the driveway to indicate shared parking. Neither space was large enough to park a car.
The tenant advised the landlord that he was in breach of the tenancy agreement. He did not move in. The agent attempted to resolve the matter, but this was conditional on the tenant agreeing to share the drive. The tenant declined saying that he only agreed to rent the property because of the driveway parking.
As detailed within Paragraph 7a of the Code, the agent was required, by law, to comply with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs). The CPRs require the agent to disclose any information of which they were aware, or should have been aware of, in relation to the property in a clear, intelligible and timely fashion. They were required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that statements about the property, oral, pictorial or written, were accurate and not misleading. All material information should have been disclosed without material omissions which may have impacted upon the tenant’s transactional decision.
Although the Ombudsman did not have sight of original marketing material, the tenant did not view the property prior to agreeing to rent it, relying upon the information provided by the agent.
Once the tenant passed referencing, the agent contacted him to say that all he had to do was pay the move in monies, sign the tenancy agreement and pick up the keys.
The tenant replied: “I just need you to confirm that the drive next to the property is mine to park my car. You have told me that it is already. I just need that in writing if you don’t mind.” The agent replied, “The parking space is yours, but I can get that in writing from the landlord if you want?”
The tenancy agreement, which the agent signed on behalf of the landlord, included the following statement under the heading ‘individually negotiated clauses’:
“Parking Space – we are advised that there is one parking space for this property”
The agent should not have made any statements about the parking until this had been verified with the landlord. The Ombudsman was not satisfied that the landlord had made any confirmation; there was nothing in the file to evidence any conversation. It should not have been confirmed to the tenant or included within the tenancy agreement.
The breach of the tenancy agreement
On the day the tenancy was due to start, the tenant did not move into the property as he considered the terms of the tenancy agreement had been breached. The start day was a Saturday and by the time the tenant had exhausted communication with the landlord, the agent’s office was closed. The tenant, did not have any other option than to secure alternative accommodation, which incurred costs.
The tenant raised a formal complaint with the agent, who replied advising that the landlord had agreed to release him from the tenancy agreement and he would be refunded the rent paid in advance, the deposit he had paid and the agency fees, less their costs for referencing (this was prior to the Tenant Fee Act). The tenant received these monies, but made a complaint saying he should not be out of pocket for expenses incurred and wanted compensation for the aggravation caused.
The Ombudsman was critical of the agent for retaining the costs for the check-in.
The Ombudsman was not satisfied that the agent took reasonable steps to ensure the information they provided was accurate and not misleading. She was also critical that the agent retained the check-in fee.
The Ombudsman supported this complaint and an award of £550 was made – including a refund of £294 for the costs incurred to rent temporary accommodation, the £156 check-in fee and an additional £100 for the avoidable aggravation, distress and inconvenience suffered by the tenant.