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What to Do If Your Letting Agency Lets You Down

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 3 Sep 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Letting Agent Landlord Letting Agency

The whole point of taking on a letting agent to manage the rental of your property is that you expect them to take the hassle out of being a full-time landlord. You might be in a full time job and not have the time to deal with all the ins and outs of an everyday tenancy, or finding a new tenant when the current one moves on.

But there can be problems when the letting agency doesn’t do their job properly. Many things can go wrong – for example you might reasonably expect that a letting agent will have the right information and expertise to know who is a good risk, and to carry out all of the correct checks on a prospective tenant.

You wouldn’t expect you to forget to complete paperwork (for example, if you had asked for a guarantor for a self-employed tenant or a young tenant)

The Law as it Applies to Letting Agencies

Legally, the letting agent is bound by the same laws as any business who agrees to undertake a job for you – they must carry out any work for you with reasonable skill and care. If they don’t, you are entitled to claim reasonable compensation. In the case of not getting a guarantor for a tenant, if that tenant then defaulted on their rent you would be legally entitled to claim any loss of income that was directly caused through the letting agent’s lack of attention to detail. So, effectively you would e entitled to the months of lost rent, plus any associated legal fees for eviction or legal action you’ve had to take.

Letting Agents and Trade Associations

If you’ve chosen wisely, your letting agent will hopefully be part of a trade association for landlords and letting agents, so hopefully you can use their services to try and resolve any situations that might occur before court action needs to be threatened.

If there’s been more than just a lapse in paperwork, or a letting agent has breached an industry code of conduct, you may be able to take action against them through grievance procedures set out by their trade association. In cases that involve misuse of a deposit, you can contact the relevant tenancy deposit scheme and ask them to get involved. It’s actually illegal, for example, to use a tenant’s initial deposit to cover rent arrears, and they are legally bound to protect any deposit. Any reputable letting agent will be able to tell you who their deposits are held by.

It’s also worth contacting the Estate Agents Ombudsman Scheme if the letting agent is a member of the scheme, and getting advice from them about how to proceed. If the letting agent is a member of the ombudsman scheme, again they will have signed up to a code of conduct.

What to Do When the Relationship Breaks Down

If the letting agent has been negligent in such a way that they are in breach of their contract, you are legally entitled to cancel the contract with them, and should not incur any charges for doing so. This doesn’t affect your right to pursue them through the courts if necessary for any damages (financially) that were incurred through their breach of contract.

Unfair Renewal Fees – a Court Decision

The National Landlords Association has recently been in the press supporting a decision that branded extra fees from letting agents as unfair. The Office of Fair Trading pursued the case which involved the practice of charging landlords a renewal fee if a tenant renewed their tenancy automatically – even if the agent had been underperforming and was technically in breach of their contract. In effect this was charging the landlord when the letting agent had done nothing.

The judgement that the OFT obtained in early 2010 made it clear that landlords “should not be presented with a surprise bill for services they have not consciously agreed to.”

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Hello We used a letting company to fully manage our property. The tenants moved out today and there is damage to the property, above wear and tear, which the deposit won’t cover. Can we put an action against the letting company for failing to fully manage the property despite taking a monthly fee?
Joned1 - 3-Sep-19 @ 6:50 PM
We are selling our property with a sitting tennant whi has never been a problem. He decided to move out and the agents failed to tell us. We were expecting the months rent to go in, when it didnt see spoke to the agent who told us the flat was now empty leaving us £500 short and months to cover until its sold. Are they liable for the lost income?
Scott - 18-Aug-19 @ 2:40 PM
We have a house rented out and was managed by a letting agent at the time the tenancy was due to be renewed, they have failed to obtain a new tenancy agreement so the tenant is there without an agreement.Where do we stand and where do we stand with the letting agent who managed it at the time of renewal, is this malpractice?
Sarah07 - 2-Aug-19 @ 9:58 AM
My letting agent has moved and not informed me I rent out two properties with her She has the keys to my properties what do I do
Don't have one - 26-Jul-19 @ 7:09 AM
My letting agent who handles my rentals has moved from her business address and I have no idea how to contact her she has keys to my properties,she doesn't answer my e mails
Don't have one - 26-Jul-19 @ 7:06 AM
We recently evicted tennants through the courts. They had 5 Newfoundland dogs in our 3 bedroom semi detached house. They destroyed our house & left it in a disgusting state. We are in dispute with the letting agents as they deny any wrong doing. Inspections were never done there excuse being we gave them 24 hours notice but they wouldn't let us in. Why can they not enter a property they have keys. What is the point of having an agent if they have no more authority than we would? These tennants have done this to numerous other property's why haven't they got a CJ? These questions havn't been answered.
Eyes - 23-Jul-19 @ 8:00 PM
I've rented a house just move in, the problem is this apartment here, the dog is been there before that I didn’t know about it ,my woman is expecting a baby for next 4 weeks she is allergy, I contact with agency few times keep lieing to me saying carpets been clean and all that hair of dog is everywhere ,here is a lot of problem but the most important to me is my woman is allergy I expected landlord last Saturday didn’t turn up. Paying 1400£ to move in. I rly hate this house only living here 1 month
evill - 16-Jul-19 @ 3:49 PM
An agent used my husband documents without our permission to rent 5 different properties Through an agency . He went as far as subletting the properties to different individuals without our knowledge or permission . Unfortunately for him he defaulted in council tax payments in two of the properties and the council tried tracking him down via the electoral role . Upon investigations the council sent us letters and enforcement judgements in my husband’s name which we know nothing about . Also we discovered there are on going tenancyAgreements on going till 2020. Please can you advice me on what to do as it is now a matter of breach of DPA and identity theft, we have updated action fraud but nothing much is coming out of this so far .
Amyrossy - 16-Jul-19 @ 2:45 PM
I rented my property through an estate agent and upon giving notice to the tenants he returned the deposit that they paid and now they are delaying leaving the property and haven't paid 2 months rent £3350. Can the letting agent return deposit before they leave the property and inspection. Please advise, Feelings
Feelings - 25-Jun-19 @ 9:12 PM
Hello there. We need help about our situation. Me and my other 3 friends decide to live together and rent a house from the agency. We signed all documents, we sent everything they asked us. So the date was confirmed couple weeks before moving and what happened that our agent told us 4 DAYS BEFORE MOVING that we can’t move, that there’s someone else living and he can’t find other place to live, we paid in total £1650 with deposits and fees together. Now they’re not answering us, not picking up calls, agency was empty yesterday. We don’t have where to live because of them and we have new jobs that we supposed to start but we can’t. What should we do now?
Willioks - 25-Jun-19 @ 9:40 AM
Hi, my tenants have fallen into arrears £4.500 and were recommended by my rental agent and the property has been badly damaged it hasn't had anyinspections The tenant for the past 5months has not paid rent and we have tried to contact her in various ways because she is very illusive and therefore trying to contact her hasbeen unsuccessful. . I have evidence the rental agents have not carried out inspections with previous tenants either. I HAVE CONTACTED A SOLICTIOR FOR A SECTION 8 but it is going to cost is £500.00 initially and then a further £1500-£2000. to pursue it to eviction through the courts. I am really concerned as to what to do next! Can I pursue a case for missed rent and compensation for damages for neglectfrom the agent?Many thanks, ANDWEN
andwen - 14-Jun-19 @ 3:19 PM
Hi, I have a property and an agent managing it. I am very unhappy with their service and tried to remove them, but they are now holding tenants deposit. What should I do. When I signed up with them we never new they have no after-hours emergency line. They changed keys to the property without approval and charged me for the joy! I asked them to post the new keys to me they said that they won't send it abroad (I live abroad). They left the tenant with 5 days with a leak because they couldn't get a plumber!! Water was pouring into neighbouring flat! Now they want me to pay wait 3 months before leaving them and wouldn't release the deposit. What should I do???
booboo - 11-May-19 @ 9:24 AM
Hello, I’m a landlord and my property is managed by a letting agency. My tenant stopped paying 6 months ago. I’m now in the process of going to court to evicted them. My solicitor has explained that the guarantor agreement that my letting agency wrote up is invalid. This means I can’t pursue the guarantor for rent arrears. My understanding is that the letting agency have failed in their obligation to me. Therefore they should be held liable for covering my loss of earnings and court fees. Please could you advise who I should speak to to get advice on pursuing the LA for damages. Many thanks, Mark
Mark - 4-May-19 @ 9:56 AM
Hi, I rent a property though Harrison and have been renting with them for 1 year 4 months. Last month i sent an email to my letting Agent that due to some reason i am moving out APR end, they gave me two option 1. to find out a new replacement tenant or pay some money. i have found replacement tenant and informed them the same. on 29 APR they sent me an email that a new tenant couldn't pass reference checkso you need to pay a rent for May Month. When i called them to check why didn't they informed me earlier they said its your responsibility to check whether a new tenant passed their all formalities
Sonali - 29-Apr-19 @ 4:51 PM
My estate agent arranged an inventory list to be signed "it was signed"by the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy agreement, but failed to get the same signed when the tenant left without giving the proper notice nor did the tenant honour the guaranteed first six months rental period.Not only that, but the tenant has stolen all contents, fixtures and fittings of the house without signing the exit inventory list. The agent knew on 19th of April that the tenant was leaving at the end of April "ie eleven days before".What can I do to be compensated
Mohamed - 19-Apr-19 @ 9:01 PM
I'm a guanentor for my daughter and boyfriend who spilt up last yr , my daughter had moved out and found her own place , I rang the estate agency to remove myself and my daughter from the agreement , only to find out that this hasn't happened and because a guanentore wasn't found they kept me on the property with out notifing me , now he has moved out
shaz - 4-Apr-19 @ 6:19 PM
I have put a months rent in advance an administration fee and a good faith deposite to global esatate agents on the understanding I was going to rent a property.i have now been informed that the property is no longer available.im I entitled to my full money back.many thanks
Shaz - 3-Apr-19 @ 3:48 PM
Hi My estate agent failed to register the deposit within the first 30 days. The tenants moved out as a Year has passed and we wanted to recover money for that damage they made. The tenants themselves contacted us informing that the estate agents had not protected the deposit and that they are within their legal rights to take us to court. We instructed the agent to return the deposit ASAP. My question is: “ Can I take the agency to court for their negligence ?” We had to redecorate our property and no compensation will be obtained form the tenants. I only hope the tenants do not take us to court. Thank you
Mar - 26-Mar-19 @ 7:11 AM
Can the letting agent put my rent up without the landlords permission. I've spoken to my landlord who Has Not giving permission.
Simmy - 25-Mar-19 @ 10:15 AM
Our tenant moved out before the end of his tenancy agreement and didn’t pay the past 2 months rent. Is it the agents responsibility to issue court proceedings against him or do we have to? We haven’t got a forwarding address for him
TCGB - 6-Feb-19 @ 5:54 PM
Gary, my agent, Marcus Fowler, Ansdell has done the same to me. Held onto 2 months rent and closed down. Ket bthe deposit. Other negligence. How did you get on? Heather
Heather - 26-Nov-18 @ 1:43 PM
My agent, of Fulham High st. seem to have closed business while I was on holiday and now I am owed a month's rent. Emails were being answered till 1st aug but are now returned as address 'unknown'.What are my options, for unpaid rent, deposit, etc?I have contacted the tenant directly to inform them of this. Awaiting response.Any advice?
Gary - 13-Aug-18 @ 1:21 PM
My letting agents have nullified my insurance, by not even conforming to thier own tenancy agreement, they let the tenants enter the house before payment of the first months rent, the tenants then only paid 2 weeks rent, and the next payment was a month later, and now haven’t paid for 6 months, so my insurer has said the tenancy agreement wasn’t followed so they have rejected our claim, should the letting agent take the blame for this and pay all costs incurred that my insurance would have covered?
Ingy - 8-Jul-18 @ 12:15 PM
@AA2 I suppose it depends upon whether the tenants have told the agency?
JUo - 29-Jun-18 @ 3:01 PM
Hi, my tenants have fallen into arrears and were recommended by my rental agent. I have a strong suspicion the relevant references would not have been sort. The tenant for the past 6 months has been late or missed a month and the agent is slow only responding to my emails after excessive pestering. Further, I have evidence they have not carried out inspections with previous tenants.Further, is the online possession form the simplest way to remove tenants for non payment of rent which is now two months in arrears. Can I pursue a case for missed rent from the agent? Andd how easy is it to switch rental agents? Many thanks, Tomo
Tommo - 4-Jun-18 @ 7:13 AM
Sunny - Your Question:
Hi,My tenants were served a section 21 notice but they refused to leave as the paperwork was not correct. The DPS was produced by the estate agent but he only had the name of the lead tenant on the paperwork, the second tenant was not mentioned so the tenants can stay on and I've had to pay for their legal fees as I lost the case. How would you move forward with this? Can I sue the estate agent?

Our Response:
Unless the information is correct then the court will always side with the tenant. Therefore, you may have a claim against the estate agent if the information provided was incorrect. In this case, you should go directly to the estate agent and ask for the complaint's procedure in a bid to claim back the fees and any costs incurred etc. If the estate agent does not conform, then you would have to take the matter to the small claims court/court. If you still wish to remove your tenant, the section 21 can be re-issued with the correct information.
ThePropertyLandlord - 15-May-18 @ 12:07 PM
Hi, My tenants were served a section 21 notice but they refused to leave as the paperwork was not correct. The DPS was produced by the estate agent but he only had the name of the lead tenant on the paperwork, the second tenant was not mentioned so the tenants can stay on and I've had to pay for their legal fees as I lost the case. How would you move forward with this? Can I sue the estate agent?
Sunny - 14-May-18 @ 3:35 PM
The letting agency I have used for the passed 6 months has failed to inform me that my tenants were moving out. I asked for information about the tenants on two occasions, one the phone and in an email, I did not get a response. The first I new about it was that I had a phone call to say that they had inspected the property and it had passed the inspection. The tenants moved out on 19th April but I did not know the date of this until 24th April. I have asked for evidence that they have told me, but they have not responded. I have since been in communication with them and at first they offered a form of compensation but because I chose to complain about the service overall, they have retracted that offer. I would like to know if I have any rights to take them to court. Please advise
H - 3-May-18 @ 8:43 PM
AA - Your Question:
We have just found out that our lettings agent has not informed us of the full problems on our house, leaking shower for 2 years and now the the damage is serious. Mould, soft walls on staircase, water damage to ceilings, tiles off around shower etc. We have always asked him to get the work done promptly and correctly but he is using bad workmen. This could now cost a lot of money to fix when it could have been minimal. Tenant complains of lack of communication. Where do we stand on this?

Our Response:
You can see more via the Shelter link here , which should tell you all you need to know.
ThePropertyLandlord - 10-Apr-18 @ 9:55 AM
We have just found out that our lettings agent has not informed us of the full problems on our house, leaking shower for 2 years and now the the damage is serious. Mould, soft walls on staircase, water damage to ceilings, tiles off around shower etc. We have always asked him to get the work done promptly and correctly but he is using bad workmen. This could now cost a lot of money to fix when it could have been minimal. Tenant complains of lack of communication. Where do we stand on this?
AA - 9-Apr-18 @ 7:31 AM
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