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What to Do If Your Letting Agency Lets You Down

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 11 Apr 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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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
@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
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