My daughter is the victim of a fraudulent letting agent – Help please

by Readers Question

9:44 AM, 8th November 2016
About 2 years ago

My daughter is the victim of a fraudulent letting agent – Help please

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My daughter is the victim of a fraudulent letting agent – Help please

My daughter is the victim of a fraudulent letting agent . This is quite a complicated story, my daughter has a AST for a 12 month fixed term with a letting agency which turns out to be fraudulent! fraud

She paid three months rent plus a deposit upfront ( which hasn’t been protected ) which was never passed on to the landlord. The landlord says she doesn’t have an agreement with the letting agent that let the property to my daughter and other tenants.

The landlord says that the letting agent she has an agreement with(which is also bogus) has sublet to another letting agent ( the one my daughter has an agreement with ) without her permission!

The Landlord now wants the tenants to vacate the property ( there are 5 in total ) . The tenants have offered to negotiate with the landlord as they are happy in the property, but she is still asking them to vacate.

What rights if any,has my daughter and the other tenants in this instance ?

Will the landlord have to go down the usual eviction process, the tenants do not want to withhold rent but obviously don’t want to pass on any more rental payment to a bogus company!

Any help would be much appreciated.

Julia



Comments

Neil Patterson

9:55 AM, 8th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Julie

The Tenants, the Landlord and the letting agent all need to report this to the police as a crime and get a crime number.

If the police don't take this up then please pass us the details of the bogus letting agent and if there are more people involved we may be able to take this up as a private prosecution. please see >> https://www.property118.com/private-prosecutions/

Please keep us updated with more information as you get it as it will need a bit more unraveling and I am not sure as to what position all the parties are in at the moment.

Mark Alexander

11:18 AM, 8th November 2016
About 2 years ago

If the Police/CPS feel unable to take this case on, The Landlords Union will do so (and fund the Private Prosecution) subject to at least 15 victims of the crime becoming lifetime members.

We will also report progress on this forum.
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RebeccaH

11:36 AM, 8th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Does the Landlord want the tenants to leave just because they were not aware of the other 'arrangement' or because they have other plans for the property? It might be worth the tenants asking the landlord if they can stay (paying the landlord/landlord's agent all future rent) for which the tenants would need to be issued with a Section 48 notice.

This would at least get the tenancy on a proper footing while the other issues get sorted out. A full house of, what we assume are, good tenants on 12 month ASTs is of value to the Landlord.

Mark Alexander

11:42 AM, 8th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Also, how was the rent, deposit and referencing paid for? If it was by PayPal or credit card it may be possible to get the payments reversed.
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John Frith

12:32 PM, 8th November 2016
About 2 years ago

I am not an expert.

The first thing I would do would be to establish if the lease is legal, and if not, why not - this may end up being a legal dispute between the agents and the landlord.

Who signed your daughters agreement for the landlady? If it can't be established, and the landlady doesn't accept the contract, then what rationale is the person your daughter dealt with giving for the situation?

If it can be established who signed the contract (and assuming that it is not the landlady herself), then does that person have a contract with the landlady to act on the landladies behalf? If they do then the contract is binding, even if the landlady wants to back out of it for any reason.

If they don't have a contract with the landlady, then again, what rationale are they giving? You say it is fraud, but what has led you to that conclusion, as you have to be sure that it's not just a misunderstanding somewhere?

Mark Crampton Smith

12:41 PM, 8th November 2016
About 2 years ago

There are a few points that need clarification here......if you would like to get some more detailed advice, please feel free to contact me directly. We have had similar cases here in Oxford, and by working with an inter-agency approach, it should be possible to facilitate your daughter staying in the property (which seems to be her desired end)
She has signed an AST........ is the address and landlords name correct on the document? she has paid "consideration" and therefore can reasonably expect to have a right to "quiet enjoyment" The landlord needs to take action against the agent who has allowed this to occur.
Is the property three (or more) stories? Is it in an area where selective or additional licensing has been introduced? Is the landlord "harassing" your daughter?
Has she been in touch with the local authority tenant liaison officer?
I think your daughter and her housemates are unwitting victims here........ and natural justice would dictate that perpetrators not victims should pay the consequence. I would be happy to give advice subject to further information.

Julia Banyard

15:50 PM, 8th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Patterson" at "08/11/2016 - 09:55":

Hi Neil
Thankyou for taking the time to reply .
My daughter has reported the fraud to the police as I also believe the LL has .
I know my daughter has been telephoned by the police but as to how much they are investigating the matter I am unable to comment .
As far as I am aware the same bogus letting agent has defrauded other LL and tenants in the same area of London .
My daughter lives with four other people whom all have AST for 12 months fixed .
The latest on their situation is that they have received a letter from the LL solicitor asking them for a date that they can vacate the property , as they believe the tenants are unlawful occupants on the basis that the LA whom let the property to my daughter was never given permission to let the property to them by the LL .
They are also requesting copies of the tenancy agreements that the tenants have .
Not really sure how they should reply to this letter ?
Much thanks Julia

Julia Banyard

16:20 PM, 8th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Rebecca Hilliard" at "08/11/2016 - 11:36":

Hi Rebecca
Thankyou for your comment .
The LL wants the tenants to vacate firstly because the LA let the rooms for less than the agreed price .
She only wanted to let the property to four tenants and not five .
She also wanted to let the property as a whole and not to have individual contracts .
She also believes they are unlawful occupants on the basis she has no contract with the agency that let the property to my daughter and the other tenants .
But unfortunately she is also a victim in all this mess ,as she originally had an agreement with ,as we now know to be ,a fraudulent letting agency ,whom ,sublet her contract without her permission , to the fraudulent letting agency that let the property to my daughter and the other tenants and of course she hasn't received any of the rent monies that the tenants paid !

Julia Banyard

16:59 PM, 8th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "08/11/2016 - 11:42":

Hi Mark
Unfortunately the deposit and rent monies were paid by bank transfer .
We have been in touch with her bank who looked into where the payments had been made , but no funds were left in the account !

Mark Alexander

17:22 PM, 8th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Julia Banyard" at "08/11/2016 - 16:59":

Hi Julie

This is beginning to sound more and more like a rent to rent scam.

Is the agent the landlord appointed still trading?

What is the name of the landlords agent?

It sounds to me like the landlords agent let the property to a business which has subsequently sublet it, perhaps even unknowingly. Nevertheless, the agent could be culpable.

With regards to supplying the landlords solicitors with documentation, I'd say go ahead and comply with that ASAP. It can do you know harm and may even do you some good. I do not completely buy what the landlords solicitor is suggesting at this stage..

I also suggest you make the landlord and his solicitor aware of this website. We are The Landlords Union and exist to share best practice amongst landlords and related professional advisers. However, as you have seen, we also help tenants and wherever possible we always try to find amicable solutions.

There is a good chance that the owner of the property your daughter is occupying feels just as cheated as she does right now. However, in the same way that you daughter is responsible to a degree for the position she finds herself in, due to lack of due diligence, the landlord also remains accountable for many areas of law. This is because a landlord can outsource responsibilities to an agent but he remains accountable to law, hence his own lack of due diligence may be found to be lacking too. Is his agent registered with a redress scheme for example? That is law. Doe the agent have Professional Indemnity insurance? That isn't law, but it is a condition of belonging to a redress scheme! If the agent is a proper business then there may be recourse through an Ombudsman and claims to be made against professional indemnity insurers. If the agent is a rogue then Trading Standards should prosecute.

Presumably you have reported the matter to trading standards?

You have also called the person your daughter entered into a contract with as an "agent". Who is that person an agent for? It's certainly not the landlord is it? Could it be that this is just a person who thought he could make a quick profit by renting a property at one price and then charging a higher price by sub-letting it by the room?

The whole thing is a complete mess, but sadly cases like this are occurring daily across the UK so it's nothing new.
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