The Tenants, Mr and Mrs A, agreed to rent a fourth floor apartment in London for 18 months without the knowledge that six weeks after the start of the tenancy, the building the apartment was situated in was scheduled for major redevelopment works. According to Mr and Mrs A, had they known, they would not have signed the tenancy agreement and,as such, blamed the Agent for not providing them with all the information they needed to come to an informed decision.
In this case, given the scale of the works, I had no doubts that the leaseholders would have been contacted about the redevelopment of the block and in all probability a section 20 notice had been issued as they would have to pay for the said works. I, therefore, considered that the Landlord would have known about the planned works but he may not have anticipated the disruption that the works would cause to anyone living in the block. In my view, it would have been good practice for the Agent to have enquired from their clients, the landlords, as to whether a section 20 notice had been issued, and if so, the circumstances behind the notice. In any event, Mr and Mrs A provided documentary evidence that the Agent was aware of the works prior to them signing the tenancy agreement. Whilst it was not clear whether the Agent was aware of the exact extent of the works, it was apparent that they were placed ‘on notice’ that an event was to occur which would be considered material information to any potential tenants.
I supported the complaint as I considered that, at the least, the Agent should have divulged that works were scheduled which may have impacted on Mr and Mrs A’s decision to proceed with the tenancy. Indeed, it was apparent that Mr and Mrs A had negotiated the early termination of the tenancy with the Landlord following the extent of the works becoming clear. I made an overall award of £400 for the distress, aggravation and inconvenience that the Agent’s shortcoming had caused and, in doing so, recognised that the Landlord was apparently the only party aware of the full extent of the works prior to the tenancy being agreed.
In this case, the Agent was put ‘on notice’ that works were scheduled to take place soon after the tenancy was due to start. Whilst the details of the works had not been made clear to them, it was their responsibility to clarify the extent of the works with the Landlord to enable them to pass on what could potentially be deemed as material information to any prospective tenant. By omitting this information, the Agent breached Paragraph 4f of the TPO Code of Practice and, in all probability, their actions constituted a misleading
omission under the CPRs.