Following the prospective tenants applying to rent the property, the Agent conducted negotiations regarding the furniture own by the Landlords, Mr and Mrs A, which was to be removed. The negotiations did not reach a mutual agreement and the prospective tenants withdrew from the transaction. Mr and Mrs A subsequently complained that the Agent had removed the majority of furniture from their property, despite it being marketed as ‘furnished’ and that the subsequent withdrawal of the prospective tenants had deprived them of the opportunity to receive rent, particularly since they had declined another set of prospective tenants from another letting agent.
When considering the submissions from both parties, it became clear that despite the property being advertised as ‘furnished’, both the prospective tenants and Mr and Mrs A had agreed, subject to negotiation, that items of furniture could be removed prior to the commencement of the tenancy. There was some initial uncertainty as to what the two parties were willing to agree to before the tenancy started. Nonetheless, the Agent appointed a contractor to remove a significant amount of furniture from the property without consulting Mr and Mrs A first. However, it was also clear that the Agent had compensated Mr and Mrs A by reimbursing the cost of the removal contractor’s invoice. More importantly, the submissions revealed that the proposed tenancy did not reach fruition because Mr and Mrs A and the prospective tenants could not agree on the issue of who should pay for the storage of the additional furniture that could not fit in the property’s adjoining garage.
Although I supported an element of this complaint to the extent that the Agent should have sought the proper authority to remove the furniture, given that they had paid for the removal and return of Mr and Mrs A’s items, I considered this to be a suitable resolution in the circumstances. I also considered that the Agent’s actions had not directly led to the breakdown in the proposed tenancy.
In this case, whilst the property was being marketed as ‘fully furnished’ it was clear that the Landlords would (to an extent) be flexible regarding the items that could be removed. As such, best practice would have seen the Agent taking steps to define what items could have been removed and their storage arrangements prior to or at the point the prospective tenants applied for the tenancy. Phrases such as ‘fully furnished’, ‘unfurnished’ or ‘partly furnished’ will be considered as material information by prospective tenants, therefore, suitable explanations including detailed inventories should be made available as soon as possible. This is especially relevant if, at the time of viewings, an existing tenant’s furnishings and possessions are present.