Agent’s breach or tenant’s breach? Please HELP!!

by Readers Question

13:48 PM, 22nd April 2013
About 6 years ago

Agent’s breach or tenant’s breach? Please HELP!!

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Agent’s breach or tenant’s breach? Please HELP!!

Who is to blame?Our tenants moved in with pets (ferret, cat and a dog) even though we had advised our letting agents that we would not allow tenants to keep pets.

We discovered our tenants little zoo when we arrived a month after they moved in to fix a problem with their kitchen taps. We Immediately informed the agent, who said they did not know about their pets. They duly sent them a letter to inform them they were in breach of tenancy agreement and liable for any damage.

We requested for a top up deposit to cover for any possible adverse damage to the property. However, after months and months of chasing to no avail, their excuse was unless we sort our the damp issues in the house (we found that it was because they left the air vent closed with not adequate ventilation, forming moulds around the house), they will not be willing to pay the top up deposit.

2 months before the end of 6 month tenancy they requested a renewal. We declined due to their refusal to pay the top up deposit, blackmailing us with a damp issue that does’t exist and our concerns with the number of animals they kept.

Strangely enough they suddenly changed their tone and said what about if they pay their top up deposit, can they stay as they liked the property! As you guessed it, the answer was of course NO !!

We visited the property after they moved out only to find the stench of animal’s urine and hairs, not to mention, a long list of other problems, not picked up by the agent in the closing inspection, including an obvious huge chunk of plaster being knocked off the wall by the tenants caused by moving fridge/freezer.

We obtained quotes to put right the house, amounting to well over their deposit which they are trying to claim back.

The agent is not helping as they are on the tenants’ side, claiming the property was in perfect, clean order and the tenants should have their deposit back, and would involve a solicitor if we do not refund their deposit. Agent are clueless what to do, asking us what they should now do, due to the tenants threat.

Questions are:

1) What would you advise please, in terms of the legal side of things?
2) What are our chances of getting the deposit to cover the damage, cleaning, getting rid of smell, getting rid of rubbish left, repairs etc?
3) How should we approach the agent as they are adamant that the tenant has done nothing wrong and should have their deposit back?

We have photo evidence of our findings to the state of the house as we found it. Would that be enough or would the fact that the tenants have been in breach of contract with Pets be good enough?

Thanks so much

Agnes 🙁



Comments

Mark Alexander

13:59 PM, 22nd April 2013
About 6 years ago

Agnes, the question on my mind is why the letting agent is siding with the tenants?

Are they really as useless as you suggest?

If so, how certain are you that they protected the deposit and issued the Prescribed Information correctly?

Could it be that they are advising you not to claim against the tenant on the basis that they have done something far worse and for which you are ultimately responsible for?

I can't answer your questions about liability without knowing the full story here. May I suggest that you ask your letting agents for a copy of the deposit protection certificate and Prescribed Information. If they can't provide it then you have two potential problems. The first is that if you pursue your tenant for damages they could take you to court for failing to observe deposit protection rules. I know you employed an agent for this but the law says that you can't devolve your responsibilities and accountability to an agent. The second problem you would then have would be to prove that your letting agents were negligent so that you could counter-claim for any losses against them.

Before we go down that road though, I suggest you back track a bit.

As a matter of interest, what, if any, professional bodies is tyour letting agent a member of?

Heather Moriarty-Phillips

18:01 PM, 25th April 2013
About 6 years ago

Did the agent not issue you notice that the deposit had been protected after the start of the tenancy?Was the inventory done by the agent or by an independent inventory company? If the deposit was protected and an inventory done and it is clear on check out the inventory revealed there had been damage then I would be refusing to return the deposit and lodge notice of dispute with the appropriate dispute service. The deposit if held by the agent would be sent to the dispute service and representation made by both sides.. There are some strange gaps here as the agent is your agent, not the tenants and should be totally supportive of you if the facts clearly show the tenants have caused damage. I agree you have a more questions to ask your agent. Watch time limits for dispute service.


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