After moving into the property, the tenants, Mr and Mrs E contacted the Agent to inform them of bad smells emanating from the kitchen. The Agent reported the matter to the landlord however, the issue took five months to resolve and at one point the toilets could not be used when sewage from the inspection pit overflowed into the neighbours’ driveway. After discussing the matter in some detail with the landlord, Mr and Mrs E complained that Agent had been aware that the property had suffered from a history of drainage problems but had withheld that information from them prior to the start of the tenancy.
Once Mr and Mrs E reported the matter to the Agent, I was satisfied that the Agent had acted in a prompt and reasonable manner with the aim of resolving the problem as soon as possible. That the matter took three visits by a third party plumber over a period of five months to resolve was not the result of any action or inaction on the Agent’s part. Indeed, the responsibility lay with the landlord to resolve the problem. However, the Agent’s file recorded that they had managed the property in the past and were aware of historical drainage issues and included a checkout report for the previous tenancy, which the Agent conducted immediately after Mr and Mrs E viewed the property, and which recorded bad smells coming from the kitchen.
Although the landlord was ultimately responsible for ensuring that the property was fit for purpose at the beginning of the tenancy, as the Agent had previously managed the property and was aware of earlier issues with the drains and toilets I considered that they had an obligation to disclose this information to Mr and Mrs E and, in particular, the bad smells coming from the kitchen as stated in the check-out report. In supporting the complaint and making an award of £100, I took into account that the landlord was ultimately responsible for resolving the drain problems and that Mr and Mrs E had chosen not to give notice to end the tenancy after the first four months and were still living in the property.
Omitting information that an agent is aware of and which is potentially ‘material’ to a consumer’s transactional decision could be deemed as a ‘misleading omission’ under the CPRs. The message is simple, if in any doubt the information should be disclosed.