11:00 AM, 3rd March 2013, About 10 years ago 7
I enlisted an Estate Agency (one of the big expensive international ones) to help me find tenants for a property I have to rent out as I can’t afford to live there myself!
Initially I was looking to pay for a Management service, but they were too expensive, so I negotiated a drop in the fees(8% plus VAT now), and for the agreement to be just a letting agreement. I signed the terms and conditions, however realised I got nothing for this letting agreement, and every service was at an additional cost, ie preparation of the contract was £160 plus VAT, etc. so I crossed out some of these services, in fact all of them under the heading Letting Services, and told them I would do everything myself instead, including check in, collecting rent, registering the deposit under the TDS and preparing the inventory.
Subsequently, I said I just wanted to pay them for the fact they had found a tenant, and thought that was agreed, as I did and do all the things listed above.
It is 10 months later and I have heard from the agency that I will owe them renewal fees if I renew the tenants agreement or if it rolls onto a periodic.
I have argued I owe them nothing as the agreement was purely for finding the tenants, and for which I paid them upfront 10 months ago, the 8% plus Vat.
They not only deny that they ever agreed that my fee was a finders fee only, but that as I signed the terms and conditions, and crossed out some, that I knew full well that the renewal fees would be due.
I of course do not have anything in writing, re the finders fee, and they deny us agreeing this on the phone, and am being held to the terms and conditions. However, how relevant are these things:
I have tried to negotiate/discuss with them that this has come out of the blue, and that given I heard nothing from them, received no contract copy with their signature etc, that I assumed, after our discussions on the phone last year too, that indeed our business between them and me was concluded, but they are having none of it.
Have I got a case to proceed to court? I have so little spare money that I can’t afford a lawyer unless I have a strong enough case… And really don’t know!