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What to Do If Your Letting Agency Lets You Down

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 20 Jul 2017 | 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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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
@Fatherted - the agents are not responsible for the mess your tenants leave the place in or if they flit without paying. This all goes with the territory of letting a place out (in which you have presumably gained an income on). The terms and conditions of your agent's agreement will describe its duties and what it is and what it is not responsible for. I admit the agencies don't always do a great job - but if every landlord claimed for the tenants leaving the palce in a mess or leaving without paying they'd be very quickly bankrupt. Few tenants care about the property they are living in for a temporary time - it's the nature of the beast. Jaq
Jogger - 24-Mar-17 @ 2:12 PM
I have recently taken back my house after many years of rental. For the last 2-3 years I have put up with a string of shocking tenants who either don't pay on time or even at all and leave the place an absolute state.I am aware that pursuing tennants is a futile expertise and have had shocking decisions from the DPS but surely the agent has some degree of blame by either carrying out sufficient checks AND keeping a close eye on things. Can I pursue a legal claim against them?
Fatherted - 24-Mar-17 @ 8:46 AM
I have cancelled my fully managed contract with the letting agent for breach of contract, which they have agreed to. The tenants have been in my property for 3 weeks with a tenancy agreement only they have signed which the letting agent supplied. I refused to sign it because of their breaches. Can I now issue my own tenancy agreement and cancel out the letting agents one?
Trudie - 15-Mar-17 @ 8:47 PM
NB - Your Question:
Hi, I had rented an apartment past month and there have been major issues in the property since day one. I clearly highlighted all the issues to the landlord as well as to the letting agency. None of them seems?to be serious about solution. I had clearly told letting agency that if they fail to fix the issues I will not be paying rent. To this they sort of alerted me for consequences. I strongly told them I will not pay rent unless services are rendered to me. They ultimately did not render the services and I also didn't pay the rent. Please let me know if I am doing the right thing and what are my chances of claiming the compensation from letting agency?ThanksNB

Our Response:
You don't have the right to withhold rent because of your landlord's failure to do repairs. If you withhold rent your landlord may start possession proceedings against you and put you at risk of eviction. Please see CAB link here.
ThePropertyLandlord - 14-Mar-17 @ 12:32 PM
Hi, I had rented an apartment past month and there have been major issues in the property since day one. I clearly highlighted all the issues to the landlord as well as to the letting agency. None of them seems?to be serious about solution. I had clearly told letting agency that if they fail to fix the issues I will not be paying rent. To this they sort of alerted me for consequences. I strongly told them I will not pay rent unless services are rendered to me. They ultimately did not render the services and I also didn't pay the rent. Please let me know if I am doing the right thing and what are my chances of claiming the compensation from letting agency? Thanks NB
NB - 13-Mar-17 @ 7:07 PM
We have let our property on a 2 year lease, during this time the letting agents have been taken over twice, the current agents are very poor and have not done an inspection eversince they took over a year ago. The 2 year lease is due to end shortly and I want to know if I can change the agreement to a non fully managed service should my tenants decide to renew for a further lease?
Alb - 10-Mar-17 @ 6:37 PM
My boyfriend owns a city centre apartment which he rents out through a letting agent he gets the rent on a monthly basis (£800) but we have just received a call from the council stating the council tax hasn't been paid so we went to the apartment and have realised that the estate absent has been letting it out as a holiday let for upto £115 per night without our knowledge! We have found a listing on airbnb with our apartment on here with reviews dating back 2 years! What rights do we have in gaining out property back? As the people in the apartment haven't signed any agreements as they are only there 1 weekend
Nina - 9-Mar-17 @ 4:31 PM
Hello, I rented my flat through an agency. The contract was made for 1 year, however tenant moved out after 5 months. Agencies charged me commission for 1 year upfront, now they are very rude and refusing to refund the commission for the 7 months. I called them and they are saying that they will not give me any money back and then hang up on me. Please advise if there is any way I can get my 7 months commission back. Thank you
Dina - 27-Feb-17 @ 9:08 PM
Mike - Your Question:
Hi,My family have used a letting agent for over 6 months with no issues.But they have not received the rent now for 3 months. The Tennent's have paid, but the agencies keeps making excuses why they can't pay. What would be the quickest was of trying to get this back ? Thank you

Our Response:
In addition to the information in the article, please also see Shelter link here.
ThePropertyLandlord - 13-Feb-17 @ 11:34 AM
Hi, My family have used a letting agent for over 6 months with no issues. But they have not received the rent now for 3 months. The Tennent's have paid, but the agencies keeps making excuses why they can't pay. What would be the quickest was of trying to get this back ? Thank you
Mike - 12-Feb-17 @ 10:10 AM
My daughter is in student accomodation with a letting agent , three weeks after moving in with three other tenants that she did not really know she was asked to sign a room reservation contract and asked to pay £125 to say she would stay on for the following year , they told her if she didn't sign it that they would advertise her room and she would have to deal with people coming and looking round ect ,so she did sign it but never paid the fee , since then she has decided she doesn't want to stay next year as they don't all get along ,however the letting agency are saying if she doesn't stay the other three tenants can't stay and they will lose their £125 .. Can they do this ?? How unfair the other tenants want to stay and things will be worse for my Dsughter if they are made to move and lose this hold on fee Please help
Drew1 - 9-Feb-17 @ 10:23 AM
ositopadi - Your Question:
Although the tenant pays directly by direct debit to my estate agent every beginning of the month, it fails to pass it on to me, the January rent still in his account and when I ring him he says YES, IT HAS BEEN DONE, ALL SORTED, ITS IN THE ACCOUNT DEPARTMENT but nothing ever gets to my bank. The service has gradually being getting worse, I spoke to the agent and he said that the rent has not being paid when I know it was. Can I contact the tenant directly without breaking any agreement that I had signed? or shall I pursue otherwise?Thank you for any advice.

Our Response:
In the first instance you need to properly establish when the rent has been paid to the agency. I would write to the agency and ask it to supply accurate records of the dates they have received the rent from the client. Prior to this, I would look at your agency agreement. If the agency has breached the contract by late payment, then once you have the correct information you can make moves to terminate the agreement. On another note, if the agency is part of the OEA (Ombudmans of Estate Agents), then you can make an official complaint.
ThePropertyLandlord - 7-Feb-17 @ 10:53 AM
I am a pensioner and due to recently suffering a few health problems, my son and family thought it best that I rent a 1 bed apartment closer to them. However, as I had a Debt Relief Order against my name - which was discharged in July 2015 - (and I admitted this to the agent before looking for a property) I knew that I wouldn't have a good enough credit report, so my son offered to stand as a Guarantor and he passed the credit check no problem, so we proceeded to look for and found a property nearby. Both the estate agent and landlord was happy with the set up and I was offered a lovely apartment within the chosen area. However, a week after I paid the deposit and agreed a moving date, my daughter in law received a phone call from the agent telling her that their credit check on me showed that I was declared bankrupt. Firstly, the information they gave her was completely incorrect, and secondly I was extremely upset that he didn't phone me personally, as surely this is a breech of Privacy and Confidentiality? Any advice would be most welcomed.
Chimp27 - 6-Feb-17 @ 10:13 PM
We have hired a letting agent recently inLondon. It's been almost 6 weeks since the property has been on the market but haven't found any tenant. In the contract that we signed it says we can cancel the contract by giving her two months notice but that is more related to once the tenants are in. I would like to hire another agency what are my options?
Ani - 6-Feb-17 @ 3:14 PM
We have hired a tenant recently in thamesmead London. It's been almost 6 weeks since the property has been on the market but haven't found any tenant. In the contract that we signed it says we can cancel the contract by giving her two months notice but that is more related to once the tenants are in. I would like to hire another agency what are my options?
Anisha - 6-Feb-17 @ 3:12 PM
Although the tenant pays directly by direct debit to my estate agent every beginning of the month, it fails to pass it on to me, the January rent still in his account and when I ring him he says YES, IT HAS BEEN DONE, ALL SORTED, ITS IN THE ACCOUNT DEPARTMENT but nothing ever gets to my bank. The service has gradually being getting worse, I spoke to the agent and he said that the rent has not being paid when I know it was. Can I contact the tenant directly without breaking any agreement that I had signed? or shall I pursue otherwise? Thank you for any advice.
ositopadi - 6-Feb-17 @ 5:28 AM
My letting agent (I am the landlord) is failing me. They did not advise me that my gas safety check was out of date. There have been other issues in the past also. Am I able to get out of my contract with them?
samuella123 - 23-Jan-17 @ 10:26 AM
I am a landlord. My letting agent changed the tenancy agreement between the old tenant moving out and the new one moving in. Within all previous tenancy agreements, the 'Break Clause' section detailed how either the landlord or the tenant could end the tenancy early. However, without highlighting the change, and whilst still retaining the 'Break Clause' section within the tenancy agreement, the letting agent amended the wording such that neither party can end the tenancy prior to the end of the fixed term, unless their has been a breach of some sort. I now wish to sell the property, but find that I am now unable to do so as a vacant possession prior to the end of the fixed term. Is there any recourse that I can take a) to rectify this and b) to seek compensation from my letting agent?
A69 - 19-Jan-17 @ 2:13 PM
I recently used an agent to rent a property for me and I specifically told them i would not rent to DSS or allow pets in the property. However, When they did find tenants they had a dog. I later found this out when i visited the property to introduce myself to the tenants. When i signed the 42 page terms and condition I specifically looked for the clause with regard to No animals so i was happy to sign it. when i contacted the agents they now tell me there is a second clause there that allows the tenants to have a dog. How can there be two clauses, one that contradicts the other?. One member of staff told me the clause was added to the contract without notifying me, but the manager says it was not added and is part of the standard terms and condition. A little advice would be greatly appreciated. Regards Martyn
Maroc - 14-Dec-16 @ 4:51 PM
I'm a landlord who has recently rented through an agency, this is my 1st time of doing this. I signed everything, all was going well until on the 21st of the 1st month I hadn't had any money. I called them and legally I have to give 15 working days for the payment to reach me each month. Well this month once again I haven't had any money but it's now 17 working days. What are my rights now?? PLEASE HELP!!
S1 - 23-Nov-16 @ 5:24 PM
Hi, my property was fully managed by an estate agency, who never did regular checks, chased unpaid rent or informed us about neighbors complaints, once tenant moved out it cost me over 3400 to fix my property. An agency even deducted fees owned by a tenant from tenancy deposit. Can you please let me know , what are my rights , am I entitled to ask for a refund of management fees ? Many thanks
Natnat - 3-Nov-16 @ 6:54 PM
Liz - Your Question:
We've been let down by our letting agency. I'm a tenant (family of 4) with a short term let whilst we have critical work done on our home. we let a property because it had two garages so we could store goods. It also had a small garden where our children could play whilst in sight.The property we chose seemed ideal however the garage doors fell off during our move and the landlords answer to this was to bolt them in place rendering them unusable - so not bikes or scooters for the kids all summer.The patio doors didn't open so several call outs later over a period of around 10 weeks we finally got new patio doors. during this time we had to use a bicycle D lock to secure the doors as they didn't open but they didnt lock either - goodbye summer playing in the garden for the children.The electrics kept tripping.All in all the last few months in this property with our family have been pretty bleak. The lettings manager never get's back to us and still hasn't responded to a request to reduce the rent by way of compensation. Do I have any rights at all. I obviously want to draw a line under this experience but at the same time I dont want the next tennants to suffer.Liz

Our Response:
Please see Shelter link here which will tell you the steps you can take.
ThePropertyLandlord - 20-Oct-16 @ 11:43 AM
We've been let down by our letting agency.I'm a tenant (family of 4) with a short term let whilst we have critical work done on our home.we let a property because it had two garages so we could store goods.It also had a small garden where our children could play whilst in sight. The property we chose seemed ideal however the garage doors fell off during our move and the landlords answer to this was to bolt them in place rendering them unusable - so not bikes or scooters for the kids all summer. The patio doors didn't open so several call outs later over a period of around 10 weeks we finally got new patio doors.during this time we had to use a bicycle D lock to secure the doors as they didn't open but they didnt lock either - goodbye summer playing in the garden for the children. The electrics kept tripping. All in all the last few months in this property with our family have been pretty bleak.The lettings manager never get's back to us and still hasn't responded to a request to reduce the rent by way of compensation.Do I have any rights at all.I obviously want to draw a line under this experience but at the same time I dont want the next tennants to suffer. Liz
Liz - 19-Oct-16 @ 12:56 PM
An agency rents us a house that was not available.We paid £ 4,500 and they have returned just £ 2,200 after 5 months. The difference is stillnot returned. How can we recover the money?
irona - 2-Oct-16 @ 7:00 PM
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