Estate agents duty of care to tenants?

by Readers Question

7:50 AM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

Estate agents duty of care to tenants?

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Estate agents duty of care to tenants?

My partner and I began renting a house through an estate agent last year. We paid our month upfront, our deposit and our admin fee to the estate agent to draw up the tenancy agreement. We have since received letters from the landlords bank and their debt collection company stating that the landlord has defaulted on his payments.

When we contacted our estate agents about this they said it was all in hand and had been resolved. We have since received an order for eviction and a letter stating the landlord did not have permission to let the property with his mortgage and any tenancy agreement was in fact void.

So my question is, do the estate agents we went through owe us a duty of care to have checked that the landlord had permission to let? Estate agents duty of care to tenants?

Also would we be able to retrieve our admin fee back or claim any damages off them?

Thanks

Sammi


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Comments

Mark Alexander

9:50 AM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Richard Kent " at "27/01/2014 - 09:39":

Hi Richard

Yes I agree with that, however, I do come across several stories like this and it makes me angry every time I do. It is landlords who treat their tenants in this way that have left our profession in tatters in the eyes of the general public.

Misrepresentation is a major issue. If Sammi had known this landlord was in financial difficulty and did not even have permission to let the property do you honestly think she and her family would have rented it?

If I was a tenant I would have a list of questions to ask a landlord including:0

1) Can I see your credit status please? I would be happy to pay the £2 or whatever it costs for the landlord to get a copy of his/her credit file from Equifax.
2) Which deposit protection scheme do you use?
3) Can I see the Gas Safety Certificate and EPC?
4) If you are using a letting agent, are they members of ARLA, NALS, RICS etc. and can I see their PI insurance policy and Client Money Protection Insurance certificates please?
5) Will you be getting a professional inventory done?
6) Are you prepared to enter into a "Deed of Assurance"
7) Can you show me evidence from your mortgage lender that you have consent to let this property please?
8) May I contact previous and/or existing tenants for references please?
9) May I have a copy of the tenancy agreement template to consider before I commit to referencing please?
10) Please confirm all costs including referencing, documentation, renewal fees etc.

I might also want to add a few more given a bit more time to think about this.

If a tenant asked me all of these questions I would be reassured that I am dealing with a very professional person, wouldn't you?
.

Richard Kent

9:51 AM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Samantha Clark" at "27/01/2014 - 09:21":

Hi Samantha,

I do sympathise, who wouldn't? (rhetorical)

I can now see your reply and you have said you have not intentions of suing your landlord..............But if you find the Letting Agent is not liable and your solicitor advises you to sue the landlord, ask yourself Honestly, are you going to take his advice?

You are aware as I have already said that an Assured Shorthold Tenancy is not a house for life.

Richard Kent

9:59 AM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "27/01/2014 - 09:50":

Mark,

Sure, I agree with you that some landlords give promises they are unable to uphold.

As a tenant it is by definition impossible to protect yourself against such unforeseen circumstances because they are unforeseen.

Sure, it would be inhumane not to apply some sympathy to this case. But I'm putting these points forward to generate some debate and not because I am unsympathetic to the tenant in this case.

Jerry Jones

10:09 AM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "27/01/2014 - 09:50":

I'd imagine asking all those questions of a letting agent in an area where there is reasonable tenant demand would result in them saying "next please"!

I actually became a tenant a few years ago, despite having 6 letting props of my own, when I moved for work and it definitely felt a bit like that.

Richard Kent

10:15 AM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jerry Jones" at "27/01/2014 - 10:09":

Jerry, That's a very good point.

In other words you can guarantee a refusal if you ask too many questions.

In fact, by asking such questions, you would provoke some strange looks and raised eyebrows from the letting agent.

🙂

Jeremy Smith

10:20 AM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Samantha Clark" at "27/01/2014 - 09:48":

This is just what I was going to suggest, to see if the landlord wanted to sell to you, but it appears the mortgage company has already beaten you to it.
I take it you have already approached him to find out.

I concour with Mark, talk to the agent and see if they will find you another property, without charging you another fee, since they will want to keep you as their customer, they have already done all the referencing for you, so you are "ready to go" for another of their properties.

Mark Alexander

10:29 AM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Richard Kent " at "27/01/2014 - 09:59":

I would be far more likely to select a tenant who asked me those questions that a tenant who asked none. Maybe I'm a bit strange like that but if a tenant tells me they want to stay long term that's what I'm looking for. If they ask me the right questions I know they have thought things through properly and are not just playing lip service to my desire to find long term tenants.
.

10:31 AM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

Some of our very best tenants ask the questions listed by Mark.

We have a list of questions for landlords to ask tenants too, see our FREE guide linked below.
.

Richard Kent

10:38 AM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Adam Alexander" at "27/01/2014 - 10:31":

It depends on the letting agent.

But as you can see, it can have a negative impact.

The bottom line is no tenant can protect themselves from unforeseen circumstances because by definition the circumstances are unforeseen.

In this case the landlord was having a extramarital relationship which has caused his financial ruin.

What sort of questions can a tenant ask in the opening stages of a tenancy to avoid that? (rhetorical)

The answer is none, simply because you would be asking about a future event which has not happened.

Richard Kent

10:54 AM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "27/01/2014 - 10:29":

@Mark and Adam,

You have both put forward scenarios in which you are encouraging questions from tenants and have drafted questions which you would like them to ask.

You say it as if it's the norm.

For example, I don't see the following question going down to well (humour implied)........This is the tenant asking the landlord......

1) Can I see your credit status please?

According to Jerry, this clearly not how the majority of letting agents operate.

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