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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Renovate To let

11:03 AM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

Samantha, at a practical level have you read the Shelter advice re repossession of a rented property? Apologies if you have but if not, it sets out how to find out your rights based on your particular Tenancy and then details the process, notices and timescales that must be followed. Therefore you will get a feel for when you might need to move based on the letters received so far.

You will most likely be entitled to 2 months notice (after which they could apply for bailiff eviction if you stayed on). note that arrears WILL shorten this notice so be careful re withholding rent.

Its here: http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/repossession/repossession_by_a_landlords_lender

Shelter will also hook up you with a Housing Advisor to help explain any parts of this if needed.

You DO have a right to claim compensation from the Landlord (including temporary storage costs etc ) but, as above, this requires court fees up-front and also requires the Landlord to have assets to recover from.

If you know him, then you might know what he has! The court can award you your costs as part of the settlement so you might find a no-win no-fee solicitor will take this up for you (and his letter-before-action might shake out a settlement payment).

Also:

a) get agreement to get your existing reference re-used (if the current Agent has somewhere else for you that's suitable). If they haven't, strongly suggest they get looking as they have a great tenant lined up!

b) get the property inspected now versus the check-in inventory so you can work with the Agent to try to ensure you get all your deposit back when you leave (e.g. you might cheaply paint a wall yourself or clean a carpet rather than pay for a tradesman via the deposit).

c) get a good reference that details the circumstances (in return for a good allagents write up if necessary 🙂 )

The issue with fees with a new letting agent is that at least part will be going straight out of the door to Experian or Equifax re credit check and still more in Rent Guarantee Insurance premiums so a new Agent is very likely to charge you again.

sharon underwood

11:05 AM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

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

Hi Samantha, If I was you I would contact the estate agent asap & ask them if they can find you another property without having to pay fees etc as I am sure they do not want any negative comments especially in this day & age where it is very easy to spread the bad word about a business or company, I know if I was in their position I would be doing whatever it takes to make you happy.
I also agree that there are many reason why the landlord has got into this position as I have just been very close to bankruptcy thanks to some extremely bad tenants & I am a VERY good landlord. Im not sure the mortgage company would help but again its only a phone call, & like someone else pointed out a tenancy is not a home for life & therefore you should just look at it as 1 of the downsides of renting, I don't mean to sound harsh im just thinking if it hadn't happened now it would probably have happened at the end of your tenancy & believe me if he could have kept the house im sure he would have done whatever it took to try & keep his investment as nobody would want a repossession on their credit history. I wish you well but I suspect the agents will help if they have any business sense at all.

Jerry Jones

11:07 AM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

If you intended to buy it anyway, I wonder if you could negotiate some kind of arrangement with the lender or their asset management company. Maybe a period of renting from them and buying at a good price at the end of an agreed period.

Richard Kent

11:15 AM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jerry Jones" at "27/01/2014 - 11:07":

Very good point!

Samantha, I know of lenders who have made deals with tenants. 🙂

Renovate To let

11:16 AM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

Samantha, my earlier post was quite long so wanted to emphasise one point.

Your Landlord created your Tenancy without permission from the Lender so its therefore NOT binding on the Lender. The key point is therefore for you to apply to the Court for (up to) 2 months grace before eviction.

Your family circumstances plus PND (supported by your GP) should hopefully do the trick. The Shelter advisor will help with forms needed.

This should, with luck, put you in the position of being able to be in better control of your moving date.

Mark Alexander

11:20 AM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Richard Kent " at "27/01/2014 - 10:54":

If a landlord has nothing to hide, why would such a question pose a problem?

If you were a tenant in a similar situation to the one Sammi now finds herself in, wouldn't you think such a question would be a very sensible one for her to ask in order to minimise the risks of finding herself in exactly the same position a few months down the road?

If we are competing against a landlord with another property for the same good quality, long term tenant could you blame us for giving this set of questions to the tenant?

The Deed of Assurance is the deal closer for us.

Remember, our market is working families are the retired, not students, house shares, young professionals or LHA claimants.
.

Richard Kent

11:31 AM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "27/01/2014 - 11:20":

Mark,
If you are encouraging questions of this sort then I think that's great. 🙂

As for applying such questions as a blanket rule to other agencies, I think a tenant could encourage a negative response.

I will leave you all to debate this thread as I am off for the day.

Note to readers: I hope you can draw on some of the humour which I imply in some of my comments.

I would not want to be in Samantha's position and I hope her current letting agent re-houses her, in a better property for the same rent, as a goodwill gesture! 🙂

Mark Alexander

11:40 AM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Richard Kent " at "27/01/2014 - 11:31":

Indeed, have a good day Richard.

In response to your other question, I don't think it should me my remit to advise tenants on what questions they should be asking their landlords.

However, the likes of Shelter should be doing this and the sooner it becomes the norm the sooner the general reputation of the PRS will improve.
.

Mike W

12:18 PM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

Is this not an opportunity for the tenant?
Surely the rent more than covers the mortgage?
Could the tenant negotiate with the bank?

Just wondering.....

Yvette Newbury

14:16 PM, 27th January 2014
About 7 years ago

I think if I were in your position I would contact the mortgage company to find out if I might be able to purchase the property direct from them, if you are still interested in buying the property. They will want to offload the property eventually no doubt and may be willing to take over your tenancy for a while whilst the details are sorted out. It can't hurt to ask, but you need to contact the right person for this query eg. someone from the mortgage provider or their agent if they have one that deals with repossessions.

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