LETTING & ESTATE AGENT

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Agent should have told tenants of previous burglaries, rules ombudsman

Agent should have told tenants of previous burglaries, rules ombudsman

Tenants who were not told that there had been two burglaries at the property before they rented it have had their complaint upheld.

The Property Ombudsman has said that under Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, (CPRs) the tenants should have been told by the agent about the burglaries and about the fact that security measures suggested by police had not been implemented.

The tenants found out about the burglaries only after signing the tenant agreement, through speaking to the previous tenants, and asking the police.

TPO awarded the tenants £250, saying that information about the burglaries – one of which took place only three months before viewing of the property – should have been disclosed.

Under CPRS, said ombudsman Christopher Hamer, not disclosing a history of burglaries is likely to be considered a misleading omission.

The case study is one of several related to CPRS in the latest interim report from TPO.

The report also contains TPO guidance for letting agents on CPR, which underlines that agents should “provide all material information that the average consumer needs to take an informed transactional decision”.

A transaction is not simply a decision to rent, but can also be a decision to view. Agents are advised not to use disclaimers where they have a responsibility to provide the information accurately and openly.

The report, covering the period May to August inclusive, says there were 3,454 initial complaints about letting agents within this period, up from 2,889 for the same period the year before.

Between May and August, a total of 338 cases were closed (up from 243), and 255 complaints against letting agents supported (up from 185).