A few days after moving in to the property, Mrs H, the tenant, arrived home to find the boundary hedge removed and her countryside view replaced with a substantial building site relating to the neighbour’s building project. Mrs H complained to the Agent that had she known that the countryside property was to be next to a building site for a prolonged period, she would not have applied for the tenancy. The Agent claimed that they were unaware that building works were being planned and stated that, as the landlords had already paid Mrs H an amount in compensation, the matter had already been dealt with.
Whilst the Agent had denied prior knowledge of the building works, it was apparent from their file that the landlords had previously informed them that the neighbour had received planning permission to build an extension and that it was likely that the project would cause noise during the day over a period of months. Furthermore, it was clear that the landlords had confirmed this position in the document that the Agent had received as part of their letting particulars process. I also noted that the Agent had provided conflicting and inconsistent information in their various responses to Mrs H.
I pointed out that under Paragraph 4f of the TPO Code of Practice, the Agent was required to act in accordance with the CPRs. Regulation 6 of the CPRs required the Agent to disclose material information and that by not doing so it was highly likely that their action would be deemed as a misleading omission. I, therefore, supported the complaint and regardless of the payment made by the landlords, I considered that the Agent’s failures and subsequent attempts to cover up their shortcomings merited an additional award of £300.
The CPRs are quite clear in that not divulging material information to the consumer is deemed a misleading omission. In this case, part of the property’s appeal was its countryside location with its associated views, therefore, it was clear that any building works which impacted on that aspect would be considered material information by the average consumer. Indeed, if it is apparent that there are any known building works which may impact on a potential tenant’s enjoyment of the property, the details should be disclosed to the potential tenant before they have made a transactional decision.