Agent served s21 without my knoweldge... tenant now leaving without proper notice

TLDR; can I claim against my tenants deposit when they have left without the contractual 2 months notice if there is a s21 in place?

I rented my property just over a year ago through Rentify. They are not a Rent-to-Rent middleman, they are an agent who you create a contract with, in my case for 2 years, for a specific amount of rent. They then guarantee the rent for the life of the contract and let/manage the property.

An AST is created in the landlords name, signed on their behalf by Rentify.

I knew the Director through work and trusted him implicitly so didn’t see the AST signed in my name - mistake 1!

The issues were almost instant - the agent paid the rent late and continued to do so throughout the term. They also dragged their feet regarding maintenance and tried to overcharge me very significantly.

After a year and numerous complaints I had enough and broke the contract. The agreement I had with them is that they would charge me 5.5% of the annual rent so long as the tenant they found is in occupation. It also said that their agreement, whilst only for 2 years, would roll over so long as that tenant is in occupation, unless I pay the 5.5% fee.

I argued against paying the fee and was released from the contract for free.

Now it get’s interesting. The AST, which I was verbally told was for 1 year, was actually for 5 which is against my consent to let.

When looking at the mid-term inspection report I also noticed there were maintenance issues that I had been billed for but had not been carried out. We were in August when this came to light and the issues were reported to the Agent the previous November.

The most challenging issue however was the tenants then handing in their Notice. The AST said they had to give 2 months notice but they were giving 1. They tried to say that the agreement was between Rentify and the tenant, not me, but when I sent them the AST with my name on it they then pulled out a s21 that the agent had sent them when I told them I was breaking the contract. I had not seen this document or knew it existed.

They say that the AST is now void because of this s21 and they will not be bound by it.

There were a few things wrong with the s21:-

  1. The names of the tenant were not on it
  2. There was a spelling mistake in the property address. The property address does match the one in the AST - the agent made a spelling mistake. If I had seen it a year ago I would have put it right but it may still void the s21
  3. The Notice period. Right now due to Covid regs I believe a landlord has to put 4 months in a s21. This one had 18 days notice, so I think it’s void?

I am fortunate that I have found a tenant who is moving in 9 days after the current tenants leave. They are also paying ÂŁ200/month more than the current.

The AST states that if the tenants leave without proper notice I can recover the costs of the void. Given everything above, is this something I can recover from their deposit? It’s especially questionable as I will be in a better financial position with the new tenant, but I dislike the fact the tenants are just doing this and think it’s okay. They don’t know I have a new tenant yet.

Given the above, is there anything I can claim against Rentify for all this? I will be looking to claim back the cost of the maintenance that I have now paid for twice. Again, I want them to know that the way they are conducting themselves is not okay and the best place to learn that lesson is in their wallet! They nicely set themselves up for 5 years worth of fees potentially, but didn’t carry out the maintenance part of the contract so I feel I should be able to get all my fees back, or at least a proportion of them.

What also needs to be considered is that although I will be in a better financial position, due to Open Rents policy of holding the rent for 10 days after move in (which is not a problem, I agree with this policy!) it means I will nearly go a month without receiving rent. That is no-one’s problem but mine however most of my savings have gone to repairing freehold maintenance issues the last few months so it’s not bad but not great.

Thank you in advance for your help and advice! Sorry it’s a long one…

So, against the tenant: just leave it and chalk it up to experience. You can try to claim it off the deposit but I don’t think it will be successful.

Against rentify: I am pretty sure that once you got out of their contract fee free you can’t then turn around and claim back money. The risk is, actually, that they turn around and demand you pay money owed to them under the contract and you get nothing. How are you going to prove they have not carried out maintenance, for instance? You could end up with a huge legal bill. How much are the maintenance bills?

For instance, you might’ve lost £300 from the tenant void period. Let’s say the maintenance costs are £500. That’s £800, or 3-5 hours for a solicitor. Going to court over £800 would be small claims case, i.e. you can’t recover solicitor’s fees from the other side.

Remember: Going to court is not about being right, it’s about proving you’re right.


What makes you think this was not s rent to rent arrangement?

That sounds exactly like Rent 2 Rent

There was an AST between me and the tenant. My understanding of R2R is that your agreement is between the landlord (me) and the “agent” not the end occupier but am I wrong?

In any event, you’re likely right, just chalk it up to experience!

I did get approached by a proper R2R when I advertised this time but have steered well clear.

As the tenants are leaving, it turns out I will need to pay 5.5% of 2 months rent so if they want to come after me then sure!

It’s more I want to gain some understanding - why did they serve the s21? The AST was between landlord and tenant, not the agent, so just because my relationship with the agent ended it doesn’t mean my relationship with the tenant should legally be affected.

Is a s21 with 18 days notice on it even legal?

I can only think they did this out of ignorance or spite.

I have evidence re: the maintainence.

They served it because they are annoyed that you won’t pay percentages on the tenancy. They’re annoyed and not a serious/reputable business.

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Fair play. Ironically the tenants want to get out of the contract and are using this, but if the shoe was on the other foot I couldn’t get rid of them using this s21 as it stands due to all the errors in the document!

I think rent to rent takes different forms and your right that some of the big issues of renting to a company who then sublet won’t apply to your set-up, but others will, as you’ve discovered.

The model is flawed. The circle can’t be squared. HMOs take a lot of management, but the only way the middle-man can make money from rent to rent is by cutting corners or not paying the guaranteed rent.

Your post will be very useful to anyone else considering this option, so thank you for sharing it.