After moving into the property, Mr and Miss A (the Tenants) advised the Agent that the television aerial sockets did not provide adequate reception and that they were unable to access the loft space in order to inspect the aerial. The Agent did not respond to the request and Mr and Miss A installed satellite television the following month.
Shortly before agreeing to extend the tenancy five months later, the tenants repeated their request, however, due to a change in their circumstances, Mr and Miss A subsequently asked for the tenancy to be ended early. The Agent responded by informing the tenants that they were liable for a number of early release charges. Mr and Miss A then complained to the Agent about the inadequacies of their communication and requested payment of their television subscription and the early release charges to be waived.
The Agent argued that, whilst they had not responded to the initial request regarding the aerial, they had subsequently offered access to the loft, which was declined by Mr and Miss A. They also argued that the early release fees were detailed in their Terms of Business and were in-line with ‘accepted’ industry standards. My investigation found that the tenants had recorded the aerial problem in the inventory and followed this up with
the Agent five months later. The Agent failed to respond on both occasions and only did so following the fees being questioned. Mr and Miss A did decline an offer to access the loft space however, the Agent’s file showed that this offer was made 10 weeks after the complaint was made. Regarding the early release fees, these were recorded in the
Agent’s Terms of Business, a document which had only been signed by the landlord.
The Agent’s failure to respond to the Tenants’ requests caused them aggravation and
inconvenience. However, Mr and Miss A did not demonstrate that they had explored alternative options (such as a signal booster) to resolve the television reception problem before choosing to install satellite television. I was not persuaded that the subscription satellite service represented a necessity rather than a lifestyle choice. Regarding the early release fees, I pointed out that Mr and Miss A would not have been party to the Agent’s Terms of Business as they were not the clients. I, therefore, determined that they should pay only those charges outlined in the Tenancy Agreement. I made an award
of £150 which was accepted by both parties as being a fair and reasonable resolution.
Unless the fees and charges are drawn to the attention of the aggrieved party beforehand, an agent should not seek to impose them.