I am looking to understand whether I have a legitimate dispute / claim for my situation with a letting agent and tenant, and where to start with a complaint process.
In summary, I provided keys to a letting agent in September 2021 and advised them (verbally) to conduct viewings as we were looking for a new tenant in our empty property. In the months proceeding, I have reached out multiple times through email and phone but had very few updates. Last week they informed me that they had selected a tenant and had handed over keys, been collecting rent and making deductions from the rent without our consent. The tenant moved in 2 months ago! We have never been informed of costs, nor signed any agreements (agency agreement) with them or the tenant (tenancy agreement).
Is this tenancy even legal, and do we have a right to dispute a claim with them?
Surely a tenancy agreement requires a landlord’s signature, and surely a letting agent needs some form of consent before they make charges to me?
Where do I escalate this complaint, and do I have any legal avenues to explore?
i have never heard of an agent choosing a tenant without the landlord saying This person is o k with me
You need to find out whether they have put you as the landlord or their agency. If its the latter then you will need legal help with this.
Did you verbally ask them to find a tenant or find a tenant AND manage it ?
I haven’t seen the tenancy agreement so I’m not sure, but I do know it definitely isn’t signed. I understand that they’ve listed themselves as our agent.
No, we didn’t ask them to manage it ( I manage all my own properties). We just asked them to find a tenant and beyond giving them the keys and asking them if they had taken any photos yet, we didn’t receive any updates (despite repeated requests for an update)
i would be right down to the agent and give them a piece of my mind, Refund of management fee . Go to the tenant and get the rent paid direct to you from now on
You should make a formal written complaint to the agency. This is a necessary precursor to being able to make a complaint to whichever redress scheme they belong to. The latter may award you compensation if they believe its due.
I would ask the agency for copies of all documentation - referencing report, AST, inventory and all other documents served at the start of the tenancy. Only then will you know the type of tenant theyve let to and whether they set up the tenancy correctly.
Whether the tenancy is binding on you will depend on whether a judge accepted they had good cause to believe you had appointed them as your agent. As it would be a palava, its important that you understand whether this is something you need to do or whether you can live with this tenancy.
If you have no written management agreement with them, they have no right do this. It sounds like you only wanted a tenant finding service, and they’ve overstepped their remit.
As David suggested, obtain a copy of all the documentation, and then decide if it is all correct and in accordance with government legislation, and if you wish to continue with their service or not. If not, make a formal complaint, detailing your requirements for recompense of deductions and transfer of the deposit and documents to your name as landlord, if you wish to self-manage, and are happy to retain the tenant. Otherwise you will need to consider litigation against the agent, removal of the tenant (if possible), and compensation for all associated costs from the agent.
I seriously do not understand why landlords use agents. They are all a total waste of money and space. I have been a landlord for over 30 years and I receive the tenancy payments without problems on all my properties… and yes I have used agents in the past but I’ve had nothing but problems with all of them. One went into administration but did not tell me, I was telephoning them, emailing them and all they would say was ‘we’ll get back to you’ but never a reply. This went on for 2/3 months and I lost several thousand pounds. The last agent I used were charging me a fortune every month but was doing very little. And at the time I had nightmare tenants who virtually wrecked my property. The agents wanted to use their contractors to do repairs etc. but the agents of course added their percentage on the contractors costs.
Now I never use agents. I do everything myself. I have written up my own tenancy agreements with a reduced rent but with special conditions. It works extremely well for the tenants and myself. They are all very happy and I am as well. My tenants are reluctant to leave my properties as they get very special tenancy agreements.
So, DO NOT USE AGENTS, DO IT YOURSELF!!
It’s ok doing it yourself if you know what you are doing and are physically able to do so.
There are those that need to use an agent: eg, if I didn’t manage my mum’s property, she would have to have an agent because she has dementia so just could not do it herself.
There are also people out there managing their own properties that clearly have no clue (eg talking to someone the other day who told me they’d just had a change of tenant so had had to get an EICR done - no clue that they should have had one done anyway over a year ago).
The problem is that many agents are greedy and have unfair contract term (eg you can’t cancel unless the tenant moves out) and have hidden charges (ie they receive commission back from tradesman, so although they don’t openly charge you extra for organising repairs, they effectively do because the tradesman will add the commission to their charges before paying it back).
My advice is, if you do want/need to use an agent, read the contract carefully and, if they are so unconfident in their own service that they tie you in without the ability to cancel, walk away and find someone else.
Also, you don’t have to sign their contract as it is if you don’t like it. You can negotiate, and if they won’t negotiate, again, just walk away - it’s their loss!
I’m sure there are good agents out there, if you can find them!
After many years of being a landlord you get to know what to do and how to do it. I am English but I do not live in the UK but I have a very good friend who I keep in touch with and ask him to do the work for me (for some money of course).
I have never met my tenants but I keep in touch with them by email, WhatsApp or some other messaging service.
My previous agents found some tenants who after 8 or so months they starting to defer rental payments or part paid the rent etc. with the promise that they would pay on a certain date later in the month, sometimes they did other times they didn’t. My agent emailed them and apparently called them but without success. I told the agent to go see them but they seemed very reluctant for some reason … maybe it was too much like hard work!! Anyway the tenants eventually moved out owing me more than 1 months rent which I fortunately managed to get back from the agent. From then on I made a promise to myself never to use an agent again. they charge extortionate prices for very little work. Yes, I agree that there are some good agents around but it’s finding them that’s the problem. The agents may quote an amount of 10% for a basic service and possibly go up to 15% for a fully managed service but don’t forget they are after as much money as possible but they would try to do as little as possible.
Any repairs or services that I need doing and I tend to use mybuilder.com or similar site and negotiate prices with the work people I choose. I do everything online and sometimes speak and we send each other messages and photos via WhatsApp and once I am happy with the work (and possibly my friend will inspect) then I pay them by bank transfer. My friend makes occasional inspections of the property and reports back to me. I must admit that it seems to work out very well. I have created a very special AST with VERY special terms and conditions - I do not want to go into the details of the AST here. I rent my property out very cheaply compared with similar properties. The tenants are very pleased with this as I am because I know they pay the rent on time and look after my property and my properties are kept in top condition because they do not want to loose the opportunity of renting such a cheap property. But at the end of the day I receive slightly more money than if I went through an agent.
I know and I’m aware that many landlords can be greedy and try to get as much money as possible when they rent out their properties and let the property get into disrepair. This is up to them but in this case the tenants can get nasty and refuse to pay the rent because it is difficult to afford or certain repairs are not carried out and ultimately causes great resentment and arguments.