Estate agent from Foxtons in Hampstead discouraged landlord from letting to people on housing benefit

Agent worked for Foxtons in Hampstead Picture: Dominic Lipinski

Agent worked for Foxtons in Hampstead Picture: Dominic Lipinski - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

A lettings agent from Foxtons in Hampstead urged a landlord to choose his private tenants and back out of a deal already made with a family on housing benefit, a leaked email has revealed.

In the email sent by Hampstead lettings manager James Grunshaw, and shown to the Ham&High, the landlord is asked to cancel his agreement with rival agency City West Homes and to let his property, in Mallory Street, in Marylebone, with Foxtons instead.

In the email Mr Grunshaw says: “We have received a very good offer on the above property. The tenants are young professional tenants.

“City West Homes will most likely rent your property out to a tenant that is on House Benefits (sic). I’d imagine children will also be residing in the property too.

“This will create lot’s (sic) more wear and tear on the property than professional tenants in my opinion, creating greater costs when you come to rent the property out again in the future.

“If you only signed last night with City West Homes, and you would prefer this offer above, I would contact them and cancel the agreement you have signed. I’d imagine you would have a cooling off period when signing an agreement.”

Westminster Councillor and Labour group leader Adam Hug, who was made aware of the email, said he was “angered” by “lazy prejudice” and “discrimination” shown towards people on housing benefit in the private rental sector.

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Mr Hug has written to Foxtons, the Association of Residential Lettings Agents, and the Department of Communities and Local Government to express his “deep concern” about Foxton’s business practices.

He said: “Is this standard practice for Foxtons employees to behave in such a manner?

“This lazy prejudice against housing benefit claimants and their families in the private rented sector has got to stop.

“While the Conservative Government has been increasingly been trying to push more housing cases into the private rented sector, it has become increasingly common for landlords to refuse to accept tenants who might be receiving housing benefit, even when families are not impact by any welfare caps.

“Foxtons and the wider Letting Agents Industry needs to urgently address such underhand and discriminatory tactics.”

A statement from Foxtons said: “We pride ourselves on the professionalism of our agents and were very disappointed to learn of this isolated incident which does not in any way reflect Foxtons position. This is not the standard of behaviour we expect and will be taking up this matter with the individual concerned to ensure nothing similar happens again. Foxtons has numerous tenants who are in receipt of housing benefits and we welcome all tenants looking for a home to rent.”