The complainants in this case accused their agent of misrepresenting a property and misleading them into signing a Tenancy Agreement by advertising that the property had parking.
Annual Report Case Study: Tenancy Agreement, Parking Included
This case concerns a dispute referred to The Property Ombudsman (TPO) from tenants who said that the agent had misrepresented the property and misled them into signing a 12 month Tenancy Agreement by advertising that the property had parking.
The agent said that the landlord asked them to let the property with parking, but provided no evidence to support this.
What was clear was that previously the property had been advertised as to let with parking but the previous tenants had entered negotiations and had rented the property without the parking space. The complainants provided TPO with copies of text messages which they received from the landlord confirming this previous arrangement. Having retained the benefit of the parking space during the previous tenancy the landlord had decided to let the property without parking to the complainants.
The agent explained that they made a “genuine mistake” by failing to confirm with the landlord whether parking was included in the complainants’ tenancy. The Ombudsman considered that the agent had a responsibility to check specific details of the tenancy (and whether parking was included) before marketing commenced. The complaint was supported.
What was to be determined was the level of award.
On realising the error, the agent acted promptly to try and find the complainants an alternative parking space by asking the concierge of the building to display a notice enquiring if any other resident had an available space, by researching areas nearby in which the complainants could park their car, and by offering to pay £360 towards the complainants parking in a secured bay in a nearby development. The agent also offered to waive the tenancy set up fees so the complainants could find an alternative property with parking after the landlord offered to end the tenancy early.
The agent offered the complainants £600 in recognition of the shortcomings in their service, but the complainants rejected the offer, wanting compensation for the equivalent of 12 months’ secured parking in the area, and the parking charges they incurred for three nights after they moved in before they decided to sell their car.
The parking charges the complainants incurred shortly after they moved in were deemed necessary and the award included this sum.
No award was made for the equivalent cost of 12 months’ parking. The Ombudsman could not determine whether the rent paid by the complainants was equivalent to similar properties in the area which included parking. The landlord had offered the complainants the option to end the tenancy agreement early and the agent offered to waive the tenancy fees so that the complainants could rent an alternative property which included parking. It was the complainants’ choice to stay in the property, and therefore the Ombudsman could not fairly attribute the aggravation associated with their decision directly to the agent.
No compensation, as asked for, for being without a car; the Ombudsman did not consider that the complainants were forced to sell the car. The agent had offered an alternative subsidised parking space in a nearby development which the complainants had rejected.
The Ombudsman deemed that the £600 goodwill gesture was appropriate and reinstated the offer.
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