Bankrupt estate agent – London W11

by Readers Question

16:39 PM, 18th June 2015
About 4 years ago

Bankrupt estate agent – London W11

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Bankrupt estate agent – London W11

Hello

We are expats currently living in Australia and use an estate agent in London W11 to property manage our BTL portfolio and collect the rent. Last week said Agent was declared bankrupt by HMRC. Bankrupt estate agent - London W11

What is my position re. the rent now due by tenants – can I have them pay it direct to my UK bank account or am I bound by the lease and/or UK law for them to continue to pay it through the bankrupt Agent’s account? If they do this I believe it will be held by the Tax Man for months while the affairs of the agent are reviewed. The Agent is no longer managing the flats and I am required to employ someone else to look after the tenants. I require the rent for mortgages.

I’d welcome all advice as although I’ve been a landlord for 20+ years Ive never experienced this before.

Many thanks.

Amelia



Comments

Mark Alexander

16:55 PM, 18th June 2015
About 4 years ago

You may be able to bring criminal charges against the directors if they owe you rent and/or tenants deposit money has gone missing.

Do you know if the agent was a Limited Company? If so, you might find them trading again with a new name after a few days - it happens a lot, especially in London!

What a lot of people don't realise is that a Limited Company offers no protection for its directors if they have misappropriated client money. The Police aren't likely to be interested but PrivateProsecutions.org will be, especially if there are several landlords and tenants affected - see >>> http://privateprosecutions.org/

With regards to your question about the redirection of rent, I suggest you have a chat with Mark Smith, our recommended Barrister-At-Law, who provides free initial telephone Consultations for up to 15 minutes for Property118 members - see >>> http://www.property118.com/member/?id=1945
.

Mark Alexander

17:38 PM, 18th June 2015
About 4 years ago

PS - what was the name of the estate agency please?
.

amelia ward

1:18 AM, 19th June 2015
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "18/06/2015 - 17:38":

Domus Nova and yes they are a Ltd company and registered with the Property Ombudsman scheme which is something.

Ive contacted the Deposit Protection Service and applied to move the tenants deposits as they were lodged. Meanwhile Domus hold my property floats which I will have to apply for from the accountants managing the bankruptcy. Expect I'll only get 20p to the Pound if that.

I just need to stop the tenants paying their rent into Domus's Client Account. Added issue is Ive got a tenant moving out in 5 weeks and I use Domus's property management service to manage the move in/out of tenants [being so very far away in Oz] and now Im needing to hire another agent to do what Domus should have done. Its not simply the finances but the administration / the paperwork. Does the HMRC freeze access to the files like inventories? Domus didnt forward me the last inventory for the flat from which the tenant is moving out.

Mark Alexander

9:10 AM, 19th June 2015
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Tildonkgirl " at "19/06/2015 - 01:18":

They should have been holding your money in their client account so it should be protected. The administrators have no claim on it. If they didn't hold the money in their client account and used it to prop up their business then they are guilty of fraud by misrepresentation. You should bring this to the attention of the administrators, direct them to http://privateprosecutions.org/ and ask them to make other creditors in your position aware of this. A formal letter is recommended.

With regards to outsourcing the ongoing management I suggest you contact LettingSupermarket.com - see >>> http://www.property118.com/letting-supermarket-full-management/68829/
.

9:38 AM, 19th June 2015
About 4 years ago

Hi - The rent should have been received from the tenant into a client’s account and such account 'ring fenced' by the bank and should NOT form part of any bankruptcy if an individual and the same if a limited company (as already said on the comments so far) . The deposit should have been protected so if this was done correctly then that part should be safe. You seem to have t this part sorted which is good. I would go ahead and contact all your tenants and get them to pay ALL rent to you from now on.

The down side is if the agent has not put the rents received in a ‘Ring Fenced’ clients account and the deposits not protected. This can be a costly action as you are fighting whoever is acting on behalf of the Bankrupts estate. Proving a criminal act against this agent is not that easy and you need to prove beyond doubt not on probability

The other major problem is, as you say, you are overseas and far away. If you want some help I would only be too happy see what can be done.

Don Holmes

9:44 AM, 19th June 2015
About 4 years ago

Hi Amelia
As an agent operating on a national basis I am so disappointed to hear yet another story such as this, It once again reiterates the importance of the "Safe Agent Scheme" run by 118 and the need to full professional licencing of our industry, That won’t stop businesses that are badly run failing, but it will improve the entry level and introduce better safe guards.
In relation to the on -going rents, which is the urgent issue, you are quite entitled to contact your tenant and advise them of new rent payment arrangements and account details. Any contractual obligation you had with the deceased company dies with it.
I would recommend contacting them immediately and issuing a new bank standing order redirecting future payments, after which you can start to consider the other issues, if I can help in any way see my members profile on here. And good Luck.

Mark Alexander

9:54 AM, 19th June 2015
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Peter Fisher - Boddington Law - (Fixed Fee Law)" at "19/06/2015 - 09:38":

Hi Peter

Bringing criminal charges and proving guilt beyond reasonable doubt is very clear cut in these circumstances. Either the money is protected in a client account or it isn't, in which cases there's your smoking gun!

The briefing fee for such a case is a few thousand, however, as soon as a Judge is persuaded that it is in the public interests for the alleged offenders to stand trial these costs are picked up by the state, regardless of whether the case reaches a guilty verdict or not.

Obviously a few grand is a lot for one person to find up front but these issues tend to involve multiple victims so often it breaks down to just a few hundred pounds (or less) per person to find.
.

10:07 AM, 19th June 2015
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "19/06/2015 - 09:54":

Hi Mark - would agree if all was clear cut but from experience it often isn't. I never take anything as straight forward till all the details / facts are placed before me.

Mark Alexander

10:08 AM, 19th June 2015
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Peter Fisher - Boddington Law - (Fixed Fee Law)" at "19/06/2015 - 10:07":

Quite right too Peter, but in circumstances such as these it is usually pretty much black or white and no shades of grey.
.

Alan Loughlin

10:21 AM, 19th June 2015
About 4 years ago

we now manage all properties ourselves, obviously not possible from Oz. we have given up on agents, they are useless, and expensive, come to an arrangement with the tenant to share the work and share the savings, it works.

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