Shortly after Mr and Mrs A moved into the property they discovered that the landlord, who worked in a neighbouring office, was using the toilet situated in the property. Upon questioning the landlord he advised that his use of the toilet during business hours was a requirement of the let which had been conveyed to the Agent. Mr and Mrs A then raised a
complaint alleging that they had not been informed of this requirement by the Agent prior to agreeing the tenancy and, as such, wished to end the tenancy, demanding the monies they had paid in relation to fees, the deposit and rent to be returned. The Agent argued that Mrs A had been advised during the viewing that the landlord required access to the toilet during his working hours. However, they went on to add that they appreciated Mr and Mrs A’s concerns and, together with the landlord, wished to make them an offer to end the tenancy. Mr and Mrs A refused the offer.
Whilst the Agent maintained that Mrs A was advised regarding this matter during a viewing of the property, I found no evidence to support this claim. I commented that, given the nature of the issue, I would have expected the landlord’s intended use of the toilet to have been brought to Mr and Mrs A’s attention in writing in accordance with Paragraphs 4f and 6g of the TPO Code of Practice, given that it represented material information that should have been divulged and was a significant precondition of the tenancy. Furthermore, given these
circumstances, I pointed out that I would also have expected the toilet arrangements to be reflected in the Tenancy Agreement in accordance with Paragraph 8a of the TPO Code of Practice.
It was apparent that the Agent did not act in accordance with their obligations under the TPO Code of Practice in respect of this matter. Accordingly, I considered that Mr and Mrs A had been caused avoidable aggravation as a result of the Agent’s failure to take reasonable care when describing the property which had effectively misled them into determining what fixtures and fittings were to be included for their sole use. I, therefore, supported the complaint and made an award of £1,149 which reflected the fees, the first month’s rent and the deposit already offered by the Agent and an additional amount in relation to complaint handling failures.
Under Paragraph 4f of the TPO Code of Practice, agents are required to ensure that they comply with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 by taking reasonable steps to ensure information material to the consumer’s decision is brought to their attention. In this case, the shared use of the toilet facilities was clearly material information and should have been conveyed to Mr and Mrs A at the earliest opportunity.