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What to Do If Your Letting Agency Lets You Down

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 13 Sep 2020 | 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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Letting agents didn't do proper checks on my tenants.The tenants paid only first month rent with deposit in the beginning later they were just dragging. The case is in court against the tenants but they left the property by subletting illegally without any rent. Property is completely destroyed bychildren and pets,which wasn't In the agreement. Now I'm told it's the tenant I should pursue and not them for the damage. Please can someone guide me on this? I definitely want to take the agency to the court as they were failed to complete background checks on tenants.
sam - 13-Sep-20 @ 6:38 PM
I own a house that is rented out through a letting agent, but the agent said they can't give me a copy of the tenancy agreement because of the data protection act. I've been renting out for years and always had a copy, but they say things have changed, is this true. Surely as the landlord I have the right to see the agreement.
Col. - 4-Sep-20 @ 1:39 AM
Help or advice. My mom has rented for 10 years, the relationship started with an estate agent she paid first months rent and a deposit, and has paid rent in advance since. 7 years in relations between the letting agent and the landlord broke down and they parted ways. It was agreed by the landlord and my mom the arrangement would remain the same. I bought the house on 20 Dec 2020 paying last rentals on the 29/11/2020 to cover Dec. 6 months later the landlord has tried to claim the deposit my mom is owed to cover the rent for December. Because he state we were paying at the end of each month, and the estate agent should have returned first month rentals to my mom which they never did. The letting agent no longer exists. Who was responsible for the first month rent when ties where cut with the letting agent, the landlord or my mom? The landlord cut ties and sorted putting the deposit in a secure hold, nothing was discuss about the first months rent at the time.
osnkosi - 25-Aug-20 @ 3:01 PM
I would like to know what was the advice regarding the leak in the house that the tenants had reported and the landlord themselves have been over and notified the letting agent to sort it out with highest urgency incase of having to foot a bigger bill if it continues to be neglected. Come 5 weeks later, the estate agent have not done anything about it and now the floorboards have completely gone. Should the letting agency pay part of the repair bill or reduce the management fee?
Selina - 18-Aug-20 @ 2:53 PM
Been with letting agent 4 years. Managed by them. Gold package- guaranteed rent and they maintain the property. Had 25k Bill as there seems to be a leak not reported for years that has ruined numerous walls, flooring, decoration and so much more. They’re saying I’m at fault but we knew nothing and have not been allowed to access property as managed. What do I do!!!
Sam b - 24-Jul-20 @ 11:00 PM
Letting agents didn't do proper checks on my tenant, boyfriend not in hospital but in prison. House completely destroyed by her children and pets,which wasn't In the agreement. Now I'm told it's the tenant I should pursue and not them for the damage.
Rigsby - 8-Jul-20 @ 10:10 AM
What can you do if your my letting agent didn't take a deposit and never informed me? My tenant seemed to have abandoned owning me 3 months rent.
Mr B - 11-Jun-20 @ 10:13 AM
Just found out my letting agent has not inspected my property for over two yrs. This is part of the service I pay for. What can I do?
Pat - 8-Jun-20 @ 9:49 AM
I have had full management by the letting agent , who has charged me for work ,and Estimate for more work needed, it was over £1,500 so I have taken the full management of so we do our own repairs, and checks , After going the the house I found a water leak and damp problem was reported over 6 months ago , the maintenance was not done and the house has lots of water damage now because of the incompetence of the letting agent and property maintenance, they are asking me to pay there bills , Can I clamp against the letting agent for not keeping my house in a good state of repair Please advise many thanks Bob
B - 3-Jun-20 @ 9:28 AM
My letting agent wrongly advertised a garage as part of a let property. Having waited two months to get in, the Tenants discovered the garage was not part of the let on move in day and our now not going ahead. Am I entitled to a month's rent and council tax from the letting agent whilst they find a new Tenant?
Boycie - 27-May-20 @ 2:52 PM
I’ve been with letting agent 7 months , bk and fourth possible new tenants then not because of referencing problems, trying to get us to accept them with no garentor and no rent guarantee. Happend 3 times now. They find ppl that I’ve stated on their list that I don’t want and still ring me up and ask. Sick of them now . With house never had a tenant in . Can I just end with them and find another agent. Or will their be a charge to leave. ???
Saxon - 19-May-20 @ 1:37 AM
I was a guarantor for my son and his girlfriend, they never paid any rent from the time they moved in (April 2018) to the time they were evicted (December 2018) the letting agent never told me that they had not paid and now I have a bill for £6,000 should the letting agent have told me once they didn't receive a payment for rent. Any help would be appriciated.
Colin Wall - 31-Mar-20 @ 3:32 PM
A letting agent which I have used before, found new tenants who are on Universal credit. I was told when they moved in that it would take 6-8 weeks for it to come through. I agreed to wait til then. However, it has not materialised and their contact number which was given by the estate agent did not work. Spoke to them who also tried but was not successful either. They went over to the property but was not able to see the tenants. In the meantime I have emailed the estate agent to request all the paperwork including their IDs, references and gas certificates as I need to keep legally. Despite my many email requests they failed to respond. So currently I have no information about and can not request the council for the rent to be transferred directly to me. What are my rights and can I claim compensation? If so how can I go about claiming this. I don’t think they are a member of the ombusman.
Lee - 20-Mar-20 @ 8:18 PM
Had a big disagreement with my estate agent in which she had taken money from me unlawfully , we had also told the landlord that repairs had not been done since I had moved in and he stated it had nothing to do with him as he paid the estate agent , in the end as we were gathering all information for my case we were told that the landlord had taken back his flat from estate agent , and we had to move out . Nothing was said about the money I was owed but was told that it was I that owed him the money “a months rent” we were then hounded for two week before we moved asking if we can move out earlier this was impossible as it was Christmas . We have just got the last bits to go as I lost the top of my finger in the move . I just need to know who is now responsible for my owed money the landlord or the estate agent . Thank you
Micky - 18-Feb-20 @ 11:13 AM
I am one of a group of landlords (well over 20) that have all had their tenants deposits stolen by a letting agent. The DPS has confirmed doctoring of their official email where she tried to cover the fraud on one of my tenants deposits and also trading standards now investigating. Her company has at least 12 CCJs now and is sure to have many more pending. Does anyone have experience of this and at which point did it transition from a civil to criminal case ?
SJ Lancs - 8-Jan-20 @ 10:06 AM
I currently have a property rented out through an agent. They introduced the tenant and collected fees. The anniversary of the tenants is coming up the agent had already called the tenant to speak about renewal without my consent. Then sent me an email to say that the tenant is happy to renew with the same rent. However the agent wants to increase there fee. What I do not understand is that the agent does not collect the rent it is paid directly to me. If there is a problem at the property with tenant calls me directly as it is not fully managed by the agents. I am not happy with the agents increase or fees and now now they have not replied to my emails or or called me back for 2 days where do I stand to get rid of the agents but to keep the tenants?
Tk - 9-Nov-19 @ 2:50 PM
Our property agency had they keys returned to them by previous tenants, whilst property was empty they arranged the inventory checks.We visited the property in the evening for our own final checks to see not only lights left on but front door was not locked, we walked straight in.On suggestion, if not them then the locks need changing they tried to charge us, I have written to director but what further action can I take?
Drow - 22-Oct-19 @ 7:43 AM
I did not receive rent payments for the first 14 weeks from the tenants. From the new tenants I have not received monies from the last 16 weeks I have not been informed of any issues by the letting agent until today The letting agent over the 17 month period have been very evasive and very unhelpful I have been paid a paltry 124 pound in 17 months Can you give me any advise Regards Mark
Rodders - 16-Oct-19 @ 6:36 PM
I have a property and an agent managing it. I am experiencing delay in rent collection and credited to my account already 3 times. I am very unhappy with their service and would like to remove them. I have written formal mail, not having their response on this. They are now holding tenants deposit and my previous month's rent. What should I do. Any advise and suggestion is much appreciated.
Mr Sahoo - 3-Oct-19 @ 2:35 PM
We agreed to rent a property on 28 september the lettings companyphoned us Mondayafternoonto say tenant was stopping this property is availablefrom 29 Septemberso were do i stand
Nathan Hill - 25-Sep-19 @ 8:00 AM
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
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