“Lost Keys, Misinformation and General Negligence...”

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Nov 02,2018
By: 'David'
Nov 02,2018
4 people found
this helpful
I can't express in words how disappointed I was by the service I received through Foxtons and the negative impact their actions had on my tenancy and my life.

I had often heard bad things about them in the past and so when I happened to find a house that was absolutely perfect for me, I was very conflicted.

Eventually, despite being warned about them by friends to avoid them, the house was simply too good to turn down.

However, during my tenancy there were so many incidents that caused turmoil. However, perhaps the two that were the most unsettling and damaging were:

1. They lost a set of our house keys, falsely blamed us for losing them - and then never replaced them or changed the locks, leaving our property insecure for the duration of the tenancy.
2. Their staff told us vital misinformation about our contract that cost me 1000s of pounds, forced my housemates to move out and irreparably damaged our relationship with our landlord

To their credit - their sales team are absolutely determined to get the deal done, no doubt to get the commission with other agents now circling.
However, as soon as we'd paid our fees - we quickly became 2nd class citizens and yesterday's news. We all submitted our references weeks before moving in and then heard nothing from Foxtons.

We completed all the other various bits of paperwork and yet we only found out a day or before we moved in that they we hadn't submitted a couple of documents.

At which point, we were hounded for these and threatened that if we did not get these then we wouldn't be allowed the keys to the property when we moved in.

After a day of panicking and having to try and frantically now chase our own references (upon their request) - we then finally got the go-ahead to move-in.

We started moving in one by one into our new house and it was only when the final member of our house moved in, it became apparent that we were one key short.

Whilst 4 keys had been left with Foxtons and signed for, there was now only 3. This obviously caused a tremendous amount of inconvenience for us as we settled into our new property as we now had to ensure someone was in to let our final member of our house in everyday.

We were assured that an investigation was being undertaken by the manager. However, within a few days of communicating via phone to Foxtons - we learned to our dismay that we were being cast as having lost the missing key.

We fought this clearly and it was only a few days later that the Foxton team finally admitted that they must have been the ones who lost the key.

Despite this admission, no apology for the incorrect allocation of blame was forthcoming. Likewise, when we asked what they were going to do about the situation, we found that the issue seemed not to be receiving the urgency we felt this should be treated with and we received very little (if any) in terms of updates from the Foxtons team.

Eventually we felt forced to visit the Foxtons office in person on multiple occasions to encourage a resolution to this. At this stage, we were told that the key must reside within the office and that it was simply a case of locating what happened to it.

Despite these several visits, Foxtons' search was fruitless and no offer was made to make amends for their fault or replace the lock.

This meant that the landlord to help out, provided a spare key that was held by a close friend. The key was never been replaced by Foxtons and the missing key proved to be a continual source of great concern by my housemates, given that it effectively meant that the security of the house was effectively compromised.

Vital Misinformation

Rather unfortunately, in the middle of our tenancy, I learned that my girlfriend's parents who had been married for over 25 years had separated due to adultery, and that her father had eloped.

My girlfriend, heartbroken and unable to financially support her disabled mother - asked me to move in with her to help her meet the new financial demands placed upon her and support her in her new circumstances as soon as possible.

I agreed and promised to move in as soon as I could possibly move out as I would not be able to financially afford to pay 2 rents.

I spoke to my housemates at the time to explain my intention to move out and they all were supportive of my decision and indicated no desire to do the same.

With this being the case, I was hugely confident that I would be able to move out within 2-3 weeks (at the very latest) as I would only need to replace one room and one place in the contract.

I spoke to the landlords to explain my situation and they were also fully supportive and had no qualms with the change of occupancy.

However, things took a turn for the worst when I spoke to a member of Foxtons team regarding our change of occupancy to learn about the process and begin taking initial steps.

A member of their team explained to me over the phone that if I would be able to find an individual to replace myself, the landlord agreed to the change, references were approved and a fee was paid - that this could be done.

However, what I was not expecting was to be told that if I were to complete this change of occupancy that no further changes of occupancy would be able to be completed for a further 6 months.

Whilst I didn't remember this caveat, I trusted the information I was provided (and the conviction with which I was told it). As such, I felt obliged to tell my housemates about this, knowing that it could adversely affect them, and restrict their ability to move in the future.

After telling my housemates of the new development, 2 of my fellow tenants were understandably concerned about being locked into the contract for a further 6 months and so reconsidered their original position, both deciding within a week to also move out.

This hugely complicated the situation as it meant that we would now need to fill 3 rooms and agree on a common timeline for the move-out date, so that the change could be completed together.

My fellow tenants would also need to find new houses for themselves and so this would invariably add considerably to the time it would take. 

The landlords when they found out that 3 tenants now wished to move out, also transformed their attitude towards the change of occupancy - as this was a far bigger ask of them and created a large amount of uncertainty.

From having 3 established tenants remaining that they knew and trusted, they now faced the prospect of almost effectively a new house. Inevitably, they then need to deliberate considerably over whether to accept the change.

With all these delays, it became clear that the soonest all parties would even consider the move-out date now 2 months later than I originally hoped.

This meant that I was forced to pay over 2 months rent (£1000s worth) and it caused a huge amount of distress to myself and my girlfriend, as I was unable to move in with her to support her through this difficult time.

In frustration, I began looking through our tenancy contract, Foxton's policies to find out where this 6 month clause had come from. When I could not seem to find any basis, I phoned Letting Support and spoke to the same member of staff once again to clarify this point. Once again, she affirmed this clause and would send me an email with the details.

However, within 5 minutes she rang me back after a conversation with a colleague saying that she had made a mistake and that the previous information I was given was wrong.

It goes without saying that I'm sure you can imagine my absolute horror that this situation had been created from a member of the Foxton's team feeding me misinformation.

All I received for this error was a simple one line apology in an email saying “My sincere apologies for the incorrect information earlier given.”

The landlords understandably were disappointed that my housemates had moved out too - so much so that they then took on a very different tone, for the rest of the occupancy change, they refused to speak to us directly and nearly refused to grant us permission to go ahead with the change.

This was extremely close to causing the whole occupancy to collapse. Yet even when this disaster was unfolding - we received very little help from Foxtons to smooth things out and I was left eventually to make a direct 11th hour plea to the landlord to go through with the change.

However, despite their eventual agreement - they were so upset that they imposed a whole new set of unfavourable conditions on the new tenants that would be taking our place, that would in effect lock them into the contract for 2 years.

Whilst this eventually got resolved, the stress and anxiety by this stage had taken a severe toll on my mental health.

For well over a week, I lost my appetite, was unable to sleep and even experienced heart palpitations - exacerbated by the lack of help, co-operation and support I received from Foxtons throughout this saga which was certainly in part caused by the misinformation I received.

Whilst I'm going through a complaint proceeding with them - I hope my story can act as a warning to any individual who is thinking of renting with Foxtons.
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