News, Residential

Foxtons faces lawsuit from landlords over ‘rip off’ light bills

Bright lights, dark charges: A London lawyer has accused property management firm Foxtons of jacking up the price of lighting jobs by hiding fees. He has launched a class action. Foxtons denies the allegation.

Warning to anyone that uses a property management firm for routine maintenance like changing bulbs: A London landlord has discovered that the company he uses added 50 per cent in charges for installing a light fitting.

Landlord Chris Townley paid letting agent Foxtons £612 for a security light on a house he rents out to tenants in the leafy Forest Hill area, and later discovered that the subcontractor that carried out the job charged Foxtons £412.50, the Evening Standard reported.

‘When challenged on the difference, Foxtons admitted it had added a £137.50 commission and an “ad hoc management charge” of 10 per cent,’ the paper wrote. ‘They had also charged VAT because, once the commission was included, the final invoice was more than £500.’

Townley also happens to be a lawyer, and is launching a class action to reclaim fees that his legal team says could cost Foxtons £42 million if all Foxtons landlords join in. He claims that Foxtons hid the commission on the job at his £500,000 property. The class action seeks compensation for hidden fees on other jobs.

‘Who knows how many people will join the action,’ he said. ‘If a lot do though it could really revolutionise the rental market. I’m a simple guy. I’m not a hero by doing this, they ripped me off and I just want my money back. I hope other landlords join and together we can form a powerful case.’

Foxtons disputed the allegation.

‘We are satisfied… that our fees are clearly laid out within our terms and conditions and that approvals are obtained from our landlords before works commence on their property,’ a spokesperson said.

The compensation could rise to over £100 million if the case widens to include other property management firms, the article stated.