Unwinding a Contract After It Has Ended?

I would be grateful for advice on the next steps I should take against an irresponsible estate agent. Long story short, the question I need answering is: Is it possible to unwind a contract through the county court after it has ended? Here is what has happened:

On Tuesday 4th May, I attended a viewing of a property. There, it became apparent that the estate agent had organised a group viewing, meaning there were 6 people from 4 different households all in the space looking at it together. This breached Covid laws at the time- and, yes, I should have seen the warning signs as to how the company conducts itself here. However, I had been living on my friend’s sofa for a while having lost my job and flat due to Covid. Having just been offered another job, I was keen to get back in my own place. The property looked good and, despite it being near a train track, one of the estate agents assured us that the trains stop at 11pm. Seeing the large number of people potentially interested, I rushed home and sent an email expressing my interest.

I secured the property and moved in Tuesday 11th May. I was advised to go through the inventory and get back to them with any feedback within 24 hours. Most things on there were described as being in ‘good’ condition. However, as I checked out the property more closely, this definitely was not the case. It had not been cleaned since the viewing (I knew this as there was a dead bumblebee I saw on my first visit that was still there) and there were several other issues, some of them serious.

-The front door frame was hanging off the wall.

-There were two electrical sockets hanging off the wall.

-The light in the en suite was missing a cover, leaving it exposed to condensation/splashing water.

-There were loose tiles on the bathroom floor.

-The heaters did not work.

-Blinds were missing/broken, sets of drawers were broken, and the kitchen door had a very large crack in it.

As they had requested, I sent an email with an updated version of the inventory as well as a list of the problems that needed fixing. However, in their response, they assured me that a pre-move in clean had taken place, and the only issue they offered to fix was the heaters, because ‘the flat is in the condition it was in when you viewed it. This is strongly reflected in the rental value in which you pay monthly’.

I replied asking for an invoice of the clean- there were dead insects, urine stains, bits of food and all sorts of other dirt and grime heavily implying no such clean had taken place. I also reiterated the importance of getting the most urgent issues fixed since they were health and safety risks. The person who conducted the viewing/my move-in provided an emotionally-charged response to this, saying she is ‘taken aback’ by my words, she is ‘saddened’ that I have taken her offering for me to make the flat my own this offensively, and that I was not forced to live there. She repeated the previous email’s message: ‘the condition of the property, is simply the condition of the property’ and asked if I want to leave.

Given their attitude and reluctance to sort anything out, I replied to confirm that I would be getting all of my money back. I was then sent several ambiguous emails, eventually getting to the figure of £700 for the first month’s rent, as well as the holding fee of £160. I pointed out that I had never paid a holding fee, and so this figure was revised to £700. Due to the potentially dangerous features in the flat, I spent one night there and moved back to my friend’s sofa. Finding it unjustifiably unfair that they were keeping that much of my money, I sought advice from Shelter and asked the estate agent to unwind the contract:

Since I have been provided with an inventory that mislead me into believing that the property was fit for habitation when it was not, on Wednesday 19th May 2021, I requested to unwind the contract in line with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008:

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 prohibit the use of unfair trading practices. Government Guidance for lettings professionals on consumer protection law suggests that the following practices of a lettings professional may be unfair:

-Providing an incorrect inventory of the property.

My photographs of the faults as well as the inventory in which the items in question are described as ‘good’ prove that an unfair trading practice has taken place. My contract started on Tuesday 11th May 2021: since I have informed The Lettings Group that I want to unwind the contract within one month of the tenancy starting, I am entitled to a full refund of the money I have paid out.

The estate agent refused to unwind the contract, claiming that ‘the inventory was fair…the inventory is a document which is referenced to when you check out of the property, to sum up the condition of the flat and standard facts such as ‘two sofas’’.

I then made a formal complaint to them, to which they replied:

We believe we have already taken all viable options to resolve this for you. I’m sorry it hasn’t worked out as you expected. Per my last email, I fully appreciate should you feel you need to escalate this further.

I then submitted a complaint to The Property Redress Scheme. Unfortunately, my experience with them was very poor. The person assigned to my case seemed determined to reject it as soon as she possibly could, claiming that only charging me one month’s rent was a satisfactory resolution.

Again, on Shelter’s advice, I began the next step: taking them to the small claims court. I sent a Letter Before Action, in which I said:

The [estate agent] has used unfair trading practices that breach The Consumer Protection (Amendment) Regulations 2014:

-You gave misleading information in the form of an incorrect inventory of the property. Entities listed as being in ‘good’ condition were in fact broken or faulty, therefore giving a false impression about the property’s fitness for habitation.

-In another misleading action, you claimed that trains running on a nearby line stop operation at 11pm. Having stayed there one night, I discovered that freight trains run into the early hours of the morning.

-You used undue influence by conducting a group viewing consisting of 6 people from 4 different households. This broke Covid laws and instilled a sense of urgency in me to secure the property.

These practices are all prohibited under consumer law, and they all contributed to a significant part of the reason why I signed up to the tenancy agreement. I have therefore contacted you in writing informing them that I want to reject the contract within 90 days of the tenancy start date, but this was refused.

I agreed to mediation or any other system of Alternative Dispute Resolution.

They responded to this, informing me ‘that this matter will not be looked into further from the PRS or [them]. We would next advise to seek independent legal advice’.

It is infuriating that they are keeping my money when I had to move out because of their refusal to make the flat safe and habitable. All I’m asking for is my £700 back. Realistically, I’d be asking for more due to the wasted money on the move, petrol, stress, etc. but I wouldn’t want a judge to think I’m being greedy or whatever. So, if I take them to court, would it be possible for the judge to declare this now-finished contract unwound and order the estate agent to give me my money back?

Thank you for taking the time to read this and thanks in advance for any responses.

NB: I also requested the following information, which I never received:

-The EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report)

-The landlord’s details (name and address)

I also reported the estate agent to Salford Council for conducting group viewings that breached Covid laws, but did not get a response.

this is the biggest post I have ever seen . You did not inspect the place properly when you viewed. I feel you only have yourself to blame


Does this answer my question at all? No, it doesn’t.

Did you sign the inventory?

Has the tenancy ended? Did you formally offer a surrender which was accepted?

If the tenancy has ended then why would you want to unwind it, which simply means ending it?

Have you retained photographic evidence of the door and sockets hanging off and did you contact the Council Environmental Health team whist still living there?

I think you’re probably right in your assessment of this agency, but you’ve probably exhausted all the official routes for tackling it and would now need to sue the agency if you want your money back. I am not sure that a judge would award this as you did live there for a period and they agency did offer to end the tenancy early.

Even though it will pain you to do it, I would suggest you let it go and move on or you could lose even more money fighting a losing case.

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I signed the inventory as part of a check-in that took place at the flat, prior to me inspecting it. The tenancy has ended. I accepted the offer of leaving.
I’ve got photos of all the issues. I didn’t contact the Council Environment Health team- I only spent one night in the flat.

I’ve been advised by Shelter that I could sue for damages, so I’m looking into that at the moment.

Thanks for your response.

I wouldnt waste your money if I were you. Your case doesn’t sound strong


You’re a landlord so of course you’d say that.

You make it sound as if everyone is to blame except You. You visited the place ,as the saying goes " should have gone to specsavers". I have bought a number of places and there will always be something that I miss, But I never blame someone else . Its up to me to check a place out.

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Shelter “would say that” they are on a tenants side , even tho some of the top brass are landlords !!

My comments on this forum are without bias and where I make a suggestion it is always what I believe to be in the genuine interest of the recipient. However, feel free to go ahead. Let us know how you get on.

Oh look, another landlord weighing in. They provided an inaccurate inventory, and if they actually agreed to fix the urgent and potentially dangerous issues, I wouldn’t have been put in this situation by them. It’s my fault that they refused to sort out problems and just asked if I wanted to leave instead, is it?

You’re confusing blame with redress. You seem to just want people to say how badly they’ve behaved. Well that’s a given. However, your question was what can I do about it, and my recommendation based on my assessment of the strength of your case, is move-on.

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Scot I am a tenant and even I have to agree that you’ve ignored many red flags just because you wanted to move asap and now you want compensating for your haste? If you was buying this home would you have been so ignorant? I mean if you were going to buy a home you would research the area, the neighbourhood etc and if by a train track then ask neighbours on the trains impact them through the night. Also if you were aware of all the visible disrepair did you question this on the viewing of timescales for repairs? As it sounds to me like the turn around from viewing to signing was unusually quick so again you’ve obviously chose to ignore these. Unfortunately there are landlords out there that will let out a property in a bad state of repair and unfortunately for every chancing LL there’s a gullible tenant but ignorance is not an excuse and I’m sad to say you sound like you’re wanting to be compensated for this. I would take the advice already given and just take the lesson, learn from it and move on as you are going to end up losing a lot more when you lose and have to pay their costs. I get that this may come across as harsh but reality bites I’m afraid. Act in haste and repent at leisure. Good luck with your continued search for a home.


Julie 1 Well said . But it will make no difference to how he feels sadly . Buyer ( in this case renter) beware.

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If you read it properly, you’d see that I’m not wanting to be compensated for my haste. I’m wanting to be refunded the money that I paid out because of their unjustifiable refusal to make essential repairs, and the fact that their misleading actions lead to my signing of the contract.

I did read it properly but admit my choice of words could have been better. However, another point that I feel will cause issue for you was the fact that you only stayed in the property less than 12 hours! A judge will probably look at that and think you didn’t even give them the opportunity to discuss things let alone do any repairs so no matter what you believe I’d say your situation sounds and looks very much like BUYERS REMORSE (for want of a better word) and I’d hate to think of you losing more money should you actually decide to go to court.

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I think the letting agent has not behaved very honestly.

You notified them within 24 hours about your disagreement with the inventory but their unfortunate response has left you with a whole load of hassle looming up before you’ve even unpacked.

The flat should not have been let with unsafe electrics. (Plus the rest of disrepair of course)

Julie makes a good point though about the one night you spent there. The court may well look at it in black and white that you signed the contract and should have fought to have things put right, rather than the cost to you in stress, time, emotions etc.

Obviously it is a shame you didn’t notice all the faults at the time.

Maybe ask Shelter what costs you may be expected to pay on their side if you did go to court and the worse came to the worse and you lost the case.

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Okay, that sounds like a sensible next step to take- thanks

is that Bracketts by any chance? Dodgy as hell. Poor contracts, illegal clauses racism. Awful estate agent

They’re called The Lettings Group. Their online presence is suspiciously minimal, but I found the flat through Zoopla or one of those types of website.