Removal of agency

Hello. I am a landlord and have a marvellous tenant who has been in place for 10 years and wishes to continue for the foreseeable future. I found him through an agency and they are taking £200 per month in rent-collection fees and I would like to get rid of this unnecessary cost (totalling over £20,000 and counting!). However, their Terms Of Business state that I must continue paying fees while the tenant they found is still in the property, and there is no get-out clause that I can find.
A friend tells me that I can turn the contract into a rolling contract when the short term tenancy contract ends and this will automatically do away with the agency. I find this difficult to believe. It would imply that the Terms Of Business that I originally and naively signed 10 years ago suddenly become null-and-void. Can someone advise me on this please?
Thanks.

that is difficult to believe ,you have been stitched up

It is unlikely that a change in the nature of the contract with the tenant would have any impact on your contract with the agent. They are two separate things.

You can try and negotiate your way out of your contract. It might be costly though, unless you can find any times that they breached the agreement (eg not done inspections with they should have, not organising repairs etc) or done anything wrong?

Alternatively, you would have to give the tenant notice (very unfair on the tenant, and costly to you in terms of lost rent).

I had one with a £600 exit fee (about a year’s charges back then) that I managed to exit without paying because they had caused damage by leaving repairs not done, and lost a set of keys. I just refused to pay and put in a formal complaint and they eventually agreed to let me out of the contract. It wasn’t worth them persuing for £600 though.

You could just give the agent notice and start collecting the rent yourself, but it wouldn’t be long before you owed them enough to make it worth them taking you to court over it, so perhaps not the best course of action.

The OFT took a case against Foxtons a few years back re their contract terms. They had a term in the contract that the landlord had to continue paying renewal fees even if they sold the property and the OFT challenged that successfully. They also said that if renewal fees were due (presumably on a let only) it has to be very clear in the contract (ie pointed out on the first page). But they didn’t challenge the no cancellation of management whilst still owning the property which must also have been in there, so they must think it’s fair! … Foxtons: hidden fees in lettings agreements with consumer landlords - GOV.UK

If your contract still has the outlawed clauses in it, that might give you a negotiating point. But the law would generally just ignore the outlawed clauses rather than invalidating the whole contract.

These agents obviously don’t think they provide value for money if they need to be tying landlords in to contracts that they can’t get out of!!

Hello and thanks for the reply.
Regarding your statement “It is unlikely that a change in the nature of the contract with the tenant would have any impact on your contract with the agent. They are two separate things.”, that’s the conclusion I came to as well. From what I’ve read elsewhere, I would need to come to an ‘amicable arrangement’ with the agent and buy my way out of it. Should it go to court then, apparently, the law “frowns upon” such contracts with no end point, although that’s not a guarantee of me winning a case. What I do have on my side is the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 if I feel, as I do, that their terms are now unreasonable and especially if they refuse to allow me to exit the contract.

This sounds a bit like someone saying they resent having to pay a pilot to fly them somewhere so they are thinking about flying the plane themselves. How hard can it be!

Join a landlord association, do some foundation training and then decide if this is something you can do yourself.

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I know I can do it myself. It’s very easy to set up a tenancy agreement - there are numerous templates available, including on the government we site. It’s the breaking of the existing contract with the agency that’s the problem.

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moral of this DO NOT USE AN AGENT TO MANAGE YOUR PROPERTY

It was my naivety 10 years ago that got me into this problem. There must be loads of people stuck in these traps. I feel that there should be an update to the housing laws to state that there must be a maximum time limit (in years) that such a contract can remain in place.

I get that. … why not get advice from a solicitor

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There’s plenty of advice out there for free, including from the National Residential Landlords Association (which I may join), which states very clearly that I have no legal leg to stand on here and that I must come to a termination agreement with the agent. As I mentioned earlier, if they start getting nasty about it then I may have a chance of fighting them using the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999.

If only if were just about the tenancy agreement. One firm of solicitors mentions 168 laws and regulations that landlords must be aware of. NRLA puts it even higher. I’m not saying you cant do it, just that youre likely to make costly mistakes until you fully learn the ropes.