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Legal help with rogue letting agent

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  • Legal help with rogue letting agent

    I was wondering if someone on this forum might be able to give advice on the course of action to take against a rogue letting agent.

    Last year a letting agent I had used to rent out my property had, without my consent, allowed my tenant to leave mid-term and replaced them with another tenant. To appease matters (after I raised the illegality of their actions) the letting agent agreed to take over the contract themselves for a further 12 months, in effect becoming the tenant and taking responsibility for rent, damage etc. A new contract was signed with the letting agent named as the tenant.

    Since then the letting agent has failed to pay the rent on time on 4 separate occasions, and for the latest arrears they have now stopped responding to emails and phone calls.

    I have issued them an arrears letter (the 4th time I have now had to do this) but what further action can I now take? I have read online that I can report the letting agent to Trading Standards, which I intend to do, but should I get a lawyer involved and can I pursue them through the Small Claims court? The fact that they are acting as the letting agent AND tenant makes things a complicated.

    Furthermore, they have collected a deposit from the tenant now occupying my apartment but have deposited it themselves which I presume means they hold responsibility over it, even if they are the tenant on my contract?

    I'm also thinking it would be best to cut ties with them completely and issue notice on my apartment, so any advice on this process would also be gratefully received.
    Last edited by ricoeliso; 12th January 2020, 09:28:AM.

  • #2
    it's not complicated at all, they owe you money, take them to court !!!

    Comment


    • #3
      easier said than done! Can you take people to small claims court for non-payment of rent?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by ricoeliso View Post
        easier said than done! Can you take people to small claims court for non-payment of rent?
        I think that's a bit of a silly question. If nobody could take the other to court for money that is owed and payable the whole economy would come to a standstill.¬*

        First of all, check what the terms of the tenancy says about payment of rent. There might be a clause to say that if they haven't paid the rent then you are entitled to terminate the contract and recover the outstanding balance in addition an amount equating to the remainder of the tenancy.

        Alternatively you may be able to terminate the contract based on repudiation, that means a breach so fundamental that goes to the root of the contract. You have to be careful about repudiatory breaches because the courts have held that non-payment of a couple of months does not amount to repudiation. You can cover your back by writing to them first explaining that they have not paid the last 4 instalments of rent and that you have sent numerous letters and calls but to no avail. Because of their lack of response together with the failure to pay, you consider this to be a repudiation of the contract.

        What's the difference between the two? Well breach of contract will set out what you are entitled whereas a repudiatory breach is another method of terminating the contract if the terms aren't as favourable to you. It also allows you to discharge all future obligations and liabilities and unless the tenancy contract limits their liability as such, you can seek consequential losses too e.g. cost of sourcing a new letting agent, fees in finding a new tenant etc.

        Relying on repudiatory breach means you have to tell the letting agent you are accepting their repudiation and terminating on that basis because if you don't then you won't be able to rely on it. Best course of action would be to rely on both as alternative reasons for termination.¬*

        So, check the tenancy contact, then you'll know your position to consider taking action against them for the recovery of debt. Since a debt is known as a primary obligation rather than secondary (it acts independently whereas a secondary obligation requires the trigger of something else such as failure to maintain the property), all you need to prove is that the debt was owed and the deadline for payment has passed.

        If I recall, letting agents must be registered with an ombudsman which, currently, is either The Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme.¬*¬*
        Check out some useful guides below

        A guide to voluntary termination
        Seting aside a CCJ
        Completing an N180 Form (Courtesy of Jaguarsuk)

        - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
        LEGAL DISCLAIMER
        Please be aware that this is a public forum and is therefore accessible to anyone. The content I post on this forum is not intended to be legal advice nor does it establish any client-lawyer type relationship between you and me. Some of the content I post may include example wording, letters, or other similar responses but they are intended purely for informational and educational purposes. Using some or all of the content I post may fail to meet your needs that is specific to your situation. Therefore any use of my content is at your own risk and I cannot be held responsible in any way. It is always recommended that you seek independent legal advice and you can do this through the Law Society's Find a Solicitor database, by contacting your local Citizen's Advice Bureau or legal advice centres such as LawWorks. You may also be able to seek legal advice from your local university who may run a free (but limited) legal advice clinic to members of the public.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by luxardo View Post
          it's not complicated at all, they owe you money, take them to court !!!
          I would complain to the property ombudsman first, if you can get a resolution free, then why not? https://www.tpos.co.uk/consumers/how...ke-a-complaint
          COMPLETING AN N180 DIRECTIONS QUESTIONNAIRE (SMALL CLAIMS TRACK) GUIDE

          My posts here are based on my experience of a variety of life events. I have no formal legal training & if in doubt take professional legal advice or contact CAB. If you follow anything I write here you do so at your own risk & I accept no liability for any loss, costs or other outcomes.

          Private messages are disabled as help is only offered publicly. I do not come on here in the evening, at weekends or on public holidays.

          Comment


          • #6
            Bearing in mind what Jags has said, if you do go down that route, you may have waived your right to terminate the contract - again, subject to what the terms actually say. I would suggest exploring your options before making a firm decision.¬*
            Check out some useful guides below

            A guide to voluntary termination
            Seting aside a CCJ
            Completing an N180 Form (Courtesy of Jaguarsuk)

            - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
            LEGAL DISCLAIMER
            Please be aware that this is a public forum and is therefore accessible to anyone. The content I post on this forum is not intended to be legal advice nor does it establish any client-lawyer type relationship between you and me. Some of the content I post may include example wording, letters, or other similar responses but they are intended purely for informational and educational purposes. Using some or all of the content I post may fail to meet your needs that is specific to your situation. Therefore any use of my content is at your own risk and I cannot be held responsible in any way. It is always recommended that you seek independent legal advice and you can do this through the Law Society's Find a Solicitor database, by contacting your local Citizen's Advice Bureau or legal advice centres such as LawWorks. You may also be able to seek legal advice from your local university who may run a free (but limited) legal advice clinic to members of the public.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by R0b View Post
              Bearing in mind what Jags has said, if you do go down that route, you may have waived your right to terminate the contract - again, subject to what the terms actually say. I would suggest exploring your options before making a firm decision.¬*
              Indeed, see if there is a solicitor locally who does an introductory free assessment of your position.
              COMPLETING AN N180 DIRECTIONS QUESTIONNAIRE (SMALL CLAIMS TRACK) GUIDE

              My posts here are based on my experience of a variety of life events. I have no formal legal training & if in doubt take professional legal advice or contact CAB. If you follow anything I write here you do so at your own risk & I accept no liability for any loss, costs or other outcomes.

              Private messages are disabled as help is only offered publicly. I do not come on here in the evening, at weekends or on public holidays.

              Comment


              • #8
                Thank you for all your responses and advice. As a further update

                - I contacted The Property Ombudsman Service, who advised that the letting agent is registered with a different organisation - the Property Redress Scheme
                - I contacted the Property Redress Scheme, who have told me to issue a formal complaint to the estate agent, outlining my grievances (which i have now done) and giving them 7 days to respond. If after 8 weeks (!!) they have not issued a formal response, i can open a case against them
                - I also contacted the Citizens Advice Bureau, who basically just told me to get a lawyer. They have passed on my details to Trading Standards in respect of potential fraudulent activity, but couldn't guarantee that the case would be followed up unless there had been multiple other complaints against the letting agent
                - I've also discovered upon reviewing my paperwork and past correspondence that the letting agent has not provided details of the deposit being put in a Deposit Protection Scheme, it only mentions in the contract that a deposit was collected. I'm not sure if there is any grounds to also report them on this basis, or to who?¬*
                - To compound matters, i've also discovered today that they have not paid the council tax for the last couple of months (the responsibility of the tenant per the contract, which in this case is the letting agent), despite me raising this with them two months ago when i had received a notice from council in the post about an outstanding amount owed

                I've checked over the contract and it says that they are to pay all reasonable costs and expenses incurred in the recovery of any rent. It also says i have the right to re-enter the property "and immediately thereon the tenancy shall terminate" without prejudice to my other rights if rent is unpaid 14 days after becoming payable, whether or not it has been demanded. Does this give me any further power to take back the property?

                many thanks¬*

                Comment


                • #9
                  in addition, does anyone know a good solicitor that might be able to assist with this?
                  Last edited by ricoeliso; 14th January 2020, 10:34:AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ricoeliso View Post
                    Thank you for all your responses and advice. As a further update

                    - I've also discovered upon reviewing my paperwork and past correspondence that the letting agent has not provided details of the deposit being put in a Deposit Protection Scheme, it only mentions in the contract that a deposit was collected. I'm not sure if there is any grounds to also report them on this basis, or to who?¬*
                    Check with the deposit schemes to find out if they have registered it, if not - https://england.shelter.org.uk/housi...osit_protected

                    Originally posted by ricoeliso View Post
                    - To compound matters, i've also discovered today that they have not paid the council tax for the last couple of months (the responsibility of the tenant per the contract, which in this case is the letting agent), despite me raising this with them two months ago when i had received a notice from council in the post about an outstanding amount owed
                    I'd send the council a copy of the tenancy agreement and tell them to pursue them.

                    Originally posted by ricoeliso View Post
                    I've checked over the contract and it says that they are to pay all reasonable costs and expenses incurred in the recovery of any rent. It also says i have the right to re-enter the property "and immediately thereon the tenancy shall terminate" without prejudice to my other rights if rent is unpaid 14 days after becoming payable, whether or not it has been demanded. Does this give me any further power to take back the property?

                    many thanks¬*
                    It mean you can terminate the contract for breaching the terms and take back the property yes, but you might want to let the people who are living there know and see what arrangement you might want to come to with them about them staying on by signing a new agreement with you. Make sure you check they have paid the rent to the agent first though, that may be why they haven't paid you.

                    Originally posted by ricoeliso View Post
                    in addition, does anyone know a good solicitor that might be able to assist with this?
                    I don't know if pt2537 firm have anyone who can assist in this area?

                    Or try https://justbeagle.com/
                    COMPLETING AN N180 DIRECTIONS QUESTIONNAIRE (SMALL CLAIMS TRACK) GUIDE

                    My posts here are based on my experience of a variety of life events. I have no formal legal training & if in doubt take professional legal advice or contact CAB. If you follow anything I write here you do so at your own risk & I accept no liability for any loss, costs or other outcomes.

                    Private messages are disabled as help is only offered publicly. I do not come on here in the evening, at weekends or on public holidays.

                    Comment

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