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What to Do If Your Letting Agency Lets You Down

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 8 Jul 2018 | 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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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
I believe there are now more people living in my property than is stated on my tenancy agreement. I think my tenant got married and his wife and children are living there. The agent has not (to my knowledge) updated the tenancy agreement. What are the implications of this and does it constitute breach of contract by the agent?
AA2 - 29-Jun-18 @ 6:39 AM
AA - Your Question:
I’ve got a long standing tenant (9 year) who always pays their rent on time. The agency, however have always been abysmal when it comes to managing maintenance. They do not follow up on works without my constant reminding and asking for updates. Thy have made decisions on my behalf without consulting me. Some issues are more serious than others. when smoke detectors became a legal requirement; they said the tenant would install them ‘as that was his job’. It was only after I requested they check the detectors were installed that I found out they hadn’t been and instructed them to involve a contractor immediately. They are not actually managing the maintenance side of the tenancy with any professionalism in my opinion.What are my options for ending this relationship. I’m not sure whether any of the multitude of mismanagement episodes actually constitute a breach of contract. or do they?I appreciate your advice :)

Our Response:
The Which link here will give you further information which should help answer your question.
ThePropertyLandlord - 18-Jun-18 @ 11:32 AM
I’ve got a long standing tenant (9 year) who always pays their rent on time. The agency, however have always been abysmal when it comes to managing maintenance. They do not follow up on works without my constant reminding and asking for updates. Thy have made decisions on my behalf without consulting me. Some issues are more serious than others... when smoke detectors became a legal requirement; they said the tenant would install them ‘as that was his job’. It was only after I requested they check the detectors were installed that I found out they hadn’t been and instructed them to involve a contractor immediately. They are not actually managing the maintenance side of the tenancy with any professionalism in my opinion. What are my options for ending this relationship. I’m not sure whether any of the multitude of mismanagement episodes actually constitute a breach of contract... or do they? I appreciate your advice :)
AA - 17-Jun-18 @ 5:46 AM
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
I am a landlord who is currently in the position were I have no tenants in my flat. I have had difficulties with my letting agency and when asked if I would like them to advertised for another tenant I decided not to give them my permission. They are now asking for fees as they statethat this decision has resulted in me terminated my contract with immediate effect. I have read my contract and have found no clause that cover this situation. Any advice?
Rm - 28-May-18 @ 7:03 PM
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
Sue - Your Question:
15 months ago we started letting out our property through a letting agent. As we knew we eventually wanted to sell the house we asked the letting agent to find a tenant for a fixed 6 month lease which they did. After the 6 months was up we decided it was time to put property on market. We asked our agent to let the tenant know but explained that they could stay on a periodic tenancy until we found a buyer and we would then issue the section 21 notice giving them 2 months notice to leave. All seemed fine, the tenants were happy to have viewings etc. We eventually found a buyer 3 months ago and asked out agent to issue a section 21 two months ago. The date for leaving has now passed and our tenants have not left so we started to look into legal proceedings. this is when our letting agent tells us that they did not protect the deposit in a scheme. Apparently the tenant requested for it nor to be protected and they signed another agreement without my knowledge. All the contracts we have signed and the tenancy agreement state that the deposit would be protected so we had no reason to believe it wasn't. What is the best thing to do? We don't want to lose our buyer.

Our Response:
In this case, you may wish to get a solicitor involved to attempt to resolve this matter. By law, all deposits have to be protected.
ThePropertyLandlord - 12-Apr-18 @ 11:27 AM
15 months ago we started letting out our property through a letting agent.As we knew we eventually wanted to sell the house we asked the letting agent to find a tenant for a fixed 6 month lease which they did.After the 6 months was up we decided it was time to put property on market. We asked our agent to let the tenant know but explained that they could stay on a periodic tenancy until we found a buyer and we would then issue the section 21 notice giving them 2 months notice to leave.All seemed fine, the tenants were happy to have viewings etc.We eventually found a buyer 3 months ago and asked out agent to issue a section 21 two months ago.The date for leaving has now passed and our tenants have not left so we started to look into legal proceedings..... this is when our letting agent tells us that they did not protect the deposit in a scheme.Apparently the tenant requested for it nor to be protected and they signed another agreement without my knowledge.All the contracts we have signed and the tenancy agreement state that the deposit would be protected so we had no reason to believe it wasn't.What is the best thing to do? We don't want to lose our buyer.
Sue - 11-Apr-18 @ 9:51 AM
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
Dexters estate agency found me tenants but when I saw their contract I sent them an email saying I was withdrawing as they were too expensive.They replied I could negotiate the contract so we agreed on some terms by email two or three but they still sent me the standard contract to sign.I wrote on the contract terms and conditions as agreed by email and signed it.They tried to send me another contract but I stayed with the one I signed.They then blocked access to the signed contract.The agreement was for 2and half years at 8% plus VAT.I did not know about the Foxtons case thenwhich said 2 years was reasonable.I have had no contact from Dexters neither have the tenants apart from Dexters collecting the rent.They have admitted this is solely to collect their commission. The tenants said they want to stay another six months.and so I informed Dexters of this and said I would now do everything as our contract was at a end.No mention was made at the start about renewal fees and and it was not included in the emails.I have made a complaint to the director he has threatened if I take the case to the Ombudsman they willwithhold a years fees even though they know the tenants are only staying six months.Today I did not recieve the rent for this month so I suppose they are keeping to their contract. I dispute this as I did not sign their contract but only agreed to the terms we negociated. Where do I stand??
Dave - 27-Mar-18 @ 1:50 AM
Kaka - Your Question:
Please Help , I am in a dire situation and need advice. A Lack of ALL thorough checks by Lettings Agent on full management , the Tennant had used the property for cannabis farm.The power was cut by police request and charges are escalating. Reconnection chargesLoss of rent, malicious damage etc and the cost of having to put my property right.I hold the Agent liable for COMPANSATIONAnd the Police for knowing the activity taking place but did not arrest any one nor forensics any evidence was taken.The power was cut 2 weeks prior to the agent going in with the Police.On what grounds can I CLAIM against the letting agent and the police.please reply ASAP.Kaka

Our Response:
Much depends upon the terms of the contract you have with the letting agent which should let you know who is responsible, should anything untoward happen.
ThePropertyLandlord - 26-Feb-18 @ 1:49 PM
Please Help , I am in a dire situationand need advice. A Lack ofALL thorough checks by Lettings Agent on full management , the Tennant had used the property for cannabis farm.The power was cut by police request and charges are escalating.. Reconnection charges Loss of rent, malicious damage etc and the cost of having to put my property right. I hold the Agent liable for COMPANSATION And the Police for knowing the activity taking place but did not arrest any one nor forensics any evidence was taken .The power was cut 2 weeks prior to the agent going in with the Police. On what grounds can I CLAIM against the letting agent and the police.please reply ASAP. Kaka
Kaka - 24-Feb-18 @ 5:47 PM
@Mario - Where there are any gas appliances in the property provided by the landlord, the landlord must ensure that annual gas safety checks are carried out. All private landlords have to have a valid gas safety certificate for all the gas equipment in the accommodation they rent out. Gas safety certificates can only be given by registered gas engineers and are valid for 12 months. In order to give a gas safety certificate the engineer has to check: the gas supply, gas appliances, gas flues and ventilation. You don't say whether this has been done or not?
ValJBH - 6-Feb-18 @ 10:44 AM
My tenants moved out and deposit has been released, after a check-out inspection and la new tenant moved in. Subsequently a fault in the boiler has been found, caused by filling loop kept opened for a long time (presumably by the previous tenant). Is the agent of check-out inspector responsible for missing the problem which is likely to cause me a significant cost?
Mario - 5-Feb-18 @ 2:32 PM
Hi, I rent a property though L&Q and have been renting with them for 6 months. In the 6 months it took over 3 months for them to move furniture which was blocking our main window in our living area, and a table which was left towards our front door so thr door only partially opened. It took over a month to fix a leak which was causing damp and was a constant dripping sound. They still haven't completely fixed the heating in our flat. I am now about to move out but because it isn't the end of my term I have to find a replacement which I have done but they wont forward on the relevant paperwork to begin the signing over to the new tenant so they might go elsewhere. The agency also wont provide a reference to my new landlord who I am ready to move into so can't move in and that landlord is about to cancel my application. What can I do, please help.
Sam - 29-Jan-18 @ 4:05 PM
gbotima - which agent is this. We have experienced something similar.
Andy - 9-Jan-18 @ 2:16 AM
I rented my house through an estate agent for over two years and the rent was never paid on time. Since June I have only had a month rent . Please advice what steps to take in getting my rent and handing over my flat.
gbotima - 5-Jan-18 @ 3:42 AM
I am a landlord and used a reputable letting agency to fully manage my property. The letting agency have failed in various areas, including not informing me of pets in property, not picking up major changes during property visits and the check out report is incorrect. The tennants have now left, however the check out report stating everything was fine. The letting agency have now admitted that the check out report is incorrect. I am now debating whether to go through TDS to get tenants deposit for various damages and changes however now the check out report is wrong that piece of evidence is useless. Should I pursue the letting agency for the money?
Lau - 15-Dec-17 @ 1:01 PM
I rent a flat from an agency and have decided to terminate the contract early. I paid a leaving fee and this is ti cover the agency's fees to find someone else to take over the flat. They have had lots of interest in the flat but somehow everyone seems to be failing the background checks. Every time someone does a background check the agency charge £300, so the agency profit every time someone fails this check. It's been two months and I'm still paying rent for this flat. How can I check that the agency are doing proper checks on people and not trying to make money off me?
Louise - 11-Oct-17 @ 8:29 PM
I instructed my agent to serve notice to my tenant and I'm due to take possession on 12 August. To my horror I have been informed that they haven't actioned this and that legally they would have to serve 2 months notice, which takes it to 24 Sept. The instruction was sent by email (which they admit they received), but due to email viruses within their business, the email wasn't forwarded to the relevant department. Where do I stand legally on this matter as I have no where to live and if my tenant wants to stay in the property, he can ! I am so stressed over their incompetence and I want some answers to where I stand legally please, as they're hoping (because I informed my tenant of the pending notice verbally ) that he will leave.However legally he doesn't have to does he ?I could be out on the streets literrally!!!!
Kaz - 20-Jul-17 @ 1:01 PM
I’m a landlord who's been with the same letting agent for some years. The current tenancy is about to end, and the agent is holding the deposit. The tenant has refused to pay the last month’s rent, so the deposit has been used to cover it. I did not give permission for this to happen. There is damage to the property, payment for which would normally come out of the tenants’ deposit. Is the letting agent now legally responsible for paying for the damage to the property?
Daniele - 11-Jul-17 @ 11:40 AM
I would really appreciate advice on what my rights are....a while ago my letting agent let out my property to a young lady...for a while i was not receiving my rental income and each time i questioned agents they said they would send out letters and follow the neccessary procedures to evict them etc...in the meantime I had not received any rent for 3 months of over £700 per month at the time...i then discovered that the tennents boyfriend had moved in with her some time ago...they fell out, she left and he stayed in the property and was not even on the tennancy agreement!! Still no payment etc etc. I advised the letting agents to change locks etc and they said they needed to follow the correct procedure.....in the meantime I decided to visit the property through deep concern of mine and I was let into the apartment foyer by the man who was living in my apartment...he was on his mobile at the time.....i realised he was the person as i saw him open the letter box for my flat!!! I was so shocked and scared at the same time...he then left straight away oblivious i was staring at him I went to my apartment and knocked on the door...no answer....i touched the door handle and the door opened!!!! He DID NOT LOCK THE DOOR!!! The lights were on!!!! I entered the property and to my horror I found fitted wardrobes STOLEN!! The double bed stolen!! Everything stolen and things which were left were destroyed!!! None of his things were there!! He obviously went to check if he had mail and by chance I was let in!!! I cried and at the same time immediately called the agents and told them exactly what had happened.By this point i was so angry with them..i demanded they change the locks immediately bcos it was just approaching 6pm (closing time for agents) they promised to change locks first thing in morning....they did this...why did they do it then but not when i told them to in the first place months ago!! Cut a long strory short my insurance company did not pay me anything saying "there was no force entry!!!" The agents did not compensate me for anything! Please please what are my rights...im an honest hard working person.this was years ago and the reason I approach now is bcos the agents are trying to cheat me again but i will not allow them again.Many many thanks in advance .Maria
Mary - 22-May-17 @ 11:13 PM
My wife and I are currently living in Australia. We rent our 4 bedroom house through a reputable local agent in London. In August 5 ( previously thete were 4) new tenants moved in. Unbeknown to us, the 5th tenant changed our property to a HmO. We only found this out when we attempted to borrow money on the house and was rejected by all lenders. Did the agents have a duty of care to inform us of the regulatory and legal change? We have attempted to contact them via email without success. They are not replying.
Robbie - 4-May-17 @ 3:54 PM
I employed a "reputable" letting agent having bought the property through their company. a full service. having had the police involved over this matter they confirmed that the letting agent had failed to check the ID of the intended tenants.the credit check I paid them to do stated ID to be verified. the police established that the drivers licences they looked looked at and did not check were fraudulent. A simple check with the DVLA would have established that the licences were false as the numbers did not exist. I have sustained as a direct result a heavy financial loss. The tenants the police established were wanted in three counties and they were taken into custody. One jumped bail. Please help. I believe that a fundamental check was not carried out and the agent was negligent and failed in their duty of care adn breached the contract I had employed them by.
GG - 20-Apr-17 @ 10:05 AM
I have a flat in London fully managed by an agent. The hot water cylinder needed replacing. The quote from the agent's plumber was very high so I asked them the model required and that I'd try and arrange the fitting myself. The agent sent a link to a cylinder which as a result I bought and had delivered to the flat. My Plumber went next day to fit it but at end of job couldn't close the cupboard door. The cylinder, although the correct specification, performance, flow rate etc, was physically larger that the one being replaced! So, now, the whole thing has got to be scraped and I've wasted £1500 and all because the agent sent me a link to the wrong cylinder. I have all the emails. Can this be classed as neglect? If so, is there anything I can do? Thank you for any help.
Hank - 14-Apr-17 @ 7:05 PM
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