Foxtons taken to court by OFT

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The Independent Online

The Office of Fair Trading began a High Court action against Foxtons, the estate agency chain, yesterday, in an attempt to force it to remove a handful of allegedly "unfair terms" from its contracts with private landlords.

Foxtons continues to charge commission to landlords after the initial fixed period of a tenancy has expired, even if the agency has played no part in persuading the current tenants to remain in the property and no longer collects rent or manages the property. The agency can also require the landlord to continue paying these charges after the landlord has sold the property, and also demands a commission should the landlord ever sell the property to the tenant, regardless of whether Foxtons had a part in negotiating the sale.

The OFT said it was seeking an injunction to force the estate agency to remove the terms, following a number of complaints from consumers. If it is successful, it said it will enforce the rules throughout the letting industry.

Foxtons contends that its agreements with landlords are not unfair, but a spokesperson for the company said it welcomed the OFT's attempt to clarify the situation: "We welcome the opportunity to have a court clarify the matters raised by the OFT as we are of the opinion that they are fundamentally misconceived."