The High Court has held that some of the charges that estate agent Foxtons imposes on landlords are unfair under the Unfair Contract Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 (UTCCR).
The case was brought by the OFT, which said clauses in the small print of Foxton’s contracts for managing tenanted properties were a “trap”. Foxtons required a renewal commission if a tenant stayed beyond the initial one-year tenancy and 2.5% of the value of the property if the tenant went on to buy it.
Mann J held that the renewal commission term did not form part of the core bargain between the parties and was therefore subject to review for fairness under the UTCCR. When he considered the fairness of the terms he found that some were not in plain language, that they were not sufficiently brought to a landlord’s attention and that they became increasingly disproportionate as the years went by, without Foxtons having to provide any commensurate services.
The case illustrates that the OFT will take suppliers to court if they fail to agree to change their consumer terms and that the courts will act to protect consumers from suppliers who impose unfair terms. Case: Office of Fair Trading v Foxtons  EWHC 1681 (Ch).