Landlord being repossessed and letting agency burying heads in the sand!

by Readers Question

9:41 AM, 22nd December 2016
About 2 years ago

Landlord being repossessed and letting agency burying heads in the sand!

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Landlord being repossessed and letting agency burying heads in the sand!

So, the short of this is, my partners rented property is being repossessed. She passed on information that the mortgage was in arrears following a solicitors letter to the letting agent who told her ‘we will freeze payments to the owner, and investigate’. repo

She heard nothing until last month when another letter came and informed her of a pending court date and that she had to submit documents to apply for a stay of execution (I think that’s right). Again she let the letting agents know and has heard nothing.

She has been granted 2 months to find a new arrangement, which isn’t the problem, however….she has contacted the letting agent AGAIN, letting them know the state of play and how the solicitors acting on behalf of the mortgage company have requested that the rental payments be made to them.

The letting agents reply to this…’that doesn’t sound right, I wouldn’t pay them, your contract is with us’

Is this a normal thing to happen?

Or should the letting agent have done something?

Many thanks

Simon

 



Comments

Neil Patterson

9:51 AM, 22nd December 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Simon,

I am very sorry for your partner and this is indeed an unfortunate situation for all involved.

Although I am only guessing it is likely that the bank have brought in LPA receivers to take over the property already. It will be their job to recover as much for the bank as possible including any rental income so yes they may want payment direct.

The agents don't really have any control over the property now and if you pay the agent and they hand it to the LPA receivers or if your partner pays direct it probably makes little difference over all.

However, I am certainly not a legal expert on these matters and what the process should be so maybe other readers can help as well.

Ian Narbeth

12:08 PM, 22nd December 2016
About 2 years ago

Simon
Your partner as tenant MUST NOT pay the agents after she has received notice from the mortgagees' solicitors. If your partner pays the agents she has no control over where the money goes. Unless they pay it in full to the mortgagees your partner may have to pay the rent twice! The landlord can no longer give a good receipt for it.

The letting agents are self-serving. I suspect they simply want to take their commission on the rent. They clearly have no grasp of legal issues. The statement that "your contract is with us" is wrong in so many ways.

Your partner should deal with the solicitors. The letting agents are out of the loop.

Ian Ringrose

13:45 PM, 22nd December 2016
About 2 years ago

What is stopping anyone writing to a tenant pretending to be a LPA receiver and requiring the rent to be paid to them……

Ian Narbeth

14:07 PM, 22nd December 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Ringrose" at "22/12/2016 - 13:45":

If solicitors have written to the tenant on behalf or the mortgagee that will cover it. The tenant can check with the Law Society or the Find a Solicitor website that the person who has written is indeed a solicitor.

Ian Ringrose

14:40 PM, 22nd December 2016
About 2 years ago

Or someone that has found the name and address of a solicitor and printed their own fake letter headed paper on their laser printer…..

Ian Narbeth

14:59 PM, 22nd December 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Ringrose" at "22/12/2016 - 14:40":

I am not sure what your point is. If the tenant continues to pay the rent to the agents she is at risk of having to pay twice. What do you propose instead?

By all means conduct due diligence by checking that the firm exists and perhaps ringing up and asking for the person who has written. However, absent any reasonable grounds for suspecting that a fraud is being undertaken, the tenant should take a solicitor's letter at face value.

Rob Crawford

22:35 PM, 24th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Narbeth" at "22/12/2016 - 14:59":

I understand exactly what IR's point is. I doubt many tenants would comply with such an instruction unless instructed to do so by the agent or landlord. There is so much fraudulent spam mail around why would they. To expect them to research the validity of such a letter is a high expectation. The mortgage provider should deal directly with the landlord and it is then for the landlord to make it happen.

Edward Smith

22:56 PM, 24th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Why not delay paying the rent until you can find the rightful party. There will be more warning before action and you can always pay over phone on debit card if the money is still in your account. Notice has already been served so no worry about that shortening.

H B

9:44 AM, 26th December 2016
About 2 years ago

I agree with Edward Smith. If it looks likely that she will be evicted within a few months, it would be sensible to withhold the rent until there is clarity. The landlord is clearly not using it to pay the mortgage anyway.

She'll still have a contractual obligation to pay the mortgage to the landlord, but it will provide a cash buffer in the interim until the future is clear.

Ian Narbeth

11:22 AM, 28th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Rob Crawford" at "24/12/2016 - 22:35":

"I doubt many tenants would comply with such an instruction unless instructed to do so by the agent or landlord."
which illustrates my point precisely. In the scenario described, if the tenant were to follow an instruction from the landlord or the agent to pay it to anyone other than the person to whom the solicitor has instructed the tenant may have to pay twice. The law does not operate by asking for a majority vote among tenants who don't know the law.

Suppose the tenant receives a letter purporting to come from a lender (rather than a solicitor). By your reasoning that there is so much fraudulent spam mail around the tenant should either ignore it or carry out due diligence. The tenant would have to check the landlord's Land Registry title and then to check that the letter is indeed from the named mortgagee and not someone impersonating them. It's less work to check out the identity of the solicitor.

The OP's scenario rings entirely true that this is a genuine repossession.

By all means hold onto the rent pending resolution of the court case but at some point the tenant will have to trust that the document: solicitor's letter, court order or mortgagee's letter is genuine. Just don't pay the rent to the landlord or the agents.


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