Leaving letting agency and keeping tenant

by Readers Question

8:51 AM, 18th November 2014
About 4 years ago

Leaving letting agency and keeping tenant

Make Text Bigger
Leaving letting agency and keeping tenant

Leaving letting agency and keeping tenantWe are new to the letting game and have a nice tenant in the property, the issue we have is with the agent.
The tenant has live there for just over 6 months and the agreement was for 6 months, 2 working days before the end of the agreement we still had not heard anything about renewing. We called and the agent said they’d sent a letter out to the tenant, that was 3 weeks ago and the agreement has lapsed.

There have been many issues with the agent, it’s taken 4 weeks to try to sort out a gas fire which we were advised to list as decoration purposes when letting the house. The tenant now wants it working and the agents take weeks to get quotes then we have to call to find out what’s happening. They sent an engineer round to look at the gas fire and took a week to tell us it needed replacing.

It’s got to the point were we are going to take over the issue with the fire as it’ll drag on for months left to them. We asked the agent over a week ago to ask the tenant if he would be happy with an electric fire instead of gas and still not heard back.

As it stands we have no paperwork for the renewal, we weren’t asked if we would like to continue letting or if we wanted to increase the rent etc.

We sent a letter to highlight all the issues we’ve had since joining them and we were fobbed off and called liars. We agreed before letting (with the director of the company) that we could keep the small out building for storage of paints/ladders etc. We were told in the reply to the letter that he never agreed to it, also he told us that we could leave the washing machine and tell the tenant that it’s there if he wants it but its not our responsibility if it fails. He also stated in the same letter that he never said it, their was 2 of us in the room when he told us these things!

Now we have come to the end of the 6 months term we decided to leave the agency as its not working out, we aren’t getting things done quick enough and the tenant is suffering.

The problem being, when we signed up we were told that when the tenant moves in for the term we can’t cancel, we were ok with that. We thought we’d give it 6 months until the end of the contract and take over the management ourselves if we were happy, this we have since been told is not possible. We have now been told that we can’t leave the agency until the tenant vacates the property, this means we are stuck with the agent who doesn’t care and a model tenant.

Is there anything that can be done to get out of this situation?

What would happen if we told the tenant to pay us directly?

Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks

Paul Chambers



Comments

Mark Alexander

9:00 AM, 18th November 2014
About 4 years ago

Hi Paul

With the greatest of respect you clearly need a good agent to protect your interests as it is quite obvious that you do not have a sufficient understanding of tenancy law to safely manage your own property. An AST does not simply lapse and does not require renewal, it becomes a statutory periodic tenancy.

That having been said, if you're not getting good service you can leave your agent, but do check your contract as there may well be penalties to pay for doing so. By all means challenge these in Court or with your agents professional bodies if you feel that breaking the contract was justifiable.

If you do sack your agent there is a checklist of things that you need to do here >>> http://www.property118.com/property-management-checklist/67891/

By all means contact your tenant directly to resolve the issue with the fire. The law is that you remain accountable for anything that your agent has done or should have done.
.

trevor white

15:22 PM, 18th November 2014
About 4 years ago

Read OFT v FOXTON
In his judgment , Mr Justice Mann accepted that all the terms the OFT brought before the court were unfair, including Foxtons' use of terms:

requiring a landlord to pay substantial sums in commission, where a tenant continues to occupy the property after the initial fixed period of the tenancy has expired – even if Foxtons plays no part in persuading the tenant to stay, and does not collect the rent or manage the property
requiring a landlord to pay commission to Foxtons even after it had sold the property
allowing Foxtons to receive a full estate agents' commission for sale of the property to a tenant.
The ruling, following a three-day hearing in April 2009, found that the charging of repeat renewal commission by Foxtons represented a 'trap' or a 'timebomb' for consumers. The judge held that such important terms must be flagged prominently not just in the contract, but also in any sales literature and processes. He said a typical consumer would be unlikely to read standard terms with a great degree of attention and would not expect important obligations to be tucked away in the small print and not specifically brought to their attention. He also found that Foxtons had used language in its contracts which is not 'plain and intelligible'.
NEVER PLEAD THAT YOU BREACHED A CONTRACT LET THE COURT DETERMINE THAT YOU HAVE. DONT SCORE OWN GOALS

Ian Ringrose

15:54 PM, 18th November 2014
About 4 years ago

Clearly your current agent is very poor; as a good agent would have checked you understood tenancy law and if not explained to you about statutory periodic tenancy etc.

Have you personally check that the deposit has been protected by contacting the protection scheme the agent claims to use?

Assuming the deposit is protected, gas safety checks are done when needed, and the rent is being paid to you quickly, than no need to panic.

Most of the problems will not be sorted out by replacing the agent, as the damage has been done, therefore you may be better of keeping the current agent until the tenant decides to leave then finding a new agent.

In the mean time, get yourself on the NLA landlord foundation course or join the NLA and do the on-line version.

Mark Alexander

16:05 PM, 18th November 2014
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Ringrose" at "18/11/2014 - 15:54":

"In the mean time, get yourself on the NLA landlord foundation course or join the NLA and do the on-line version."

Excellent suggestion Ian, it's only £150 and most landlords will learn more that day than they could ever imagine. For most people, the biggest realisation is how much they don't know!
.

Bal Hir

18:12 PM, 18th November 2014
About 4 years ago

Totally agree, an NLA course will open your eyes on the numerous responsibilities required to be a good landlord.

The checkbox link from Mark is also a great starting point.

Steve From Leicester

11:34 AM, 19th November 2014
About 4 years ago

First of all I'll admit to playing Devil's Advocate to some extent, and I politely ask readers to read to the end before making up their minds about what I'm about to say.

Here's some observations from an agent (me) who is not connected to this issue in any way and only knows what's written above.

Landlords who want to keep stuff in a locked shed / loft / outbuilding / garage immediately make me roll my eyes. If you're hiring a car you don't expect the hirer to leave some of his stuff in the boot, so if you're renting a house why should you allow the landlord to leave his stuff there?

Ditto landlords who leave white goods on the basis that they won't be repaired if they fail. Either you're letting your property with white goods included or you're not. If you don't want responsibility for them take them out.

In both the above cases it's a bit disingenuous to blame the agent for getting confused because you wanted to let "most of the property and its contents" rather than all of it.

You let a property knowing the gas fire didn't work instead of getting it fixed at the outset. Now that the tenants have decided they want a gas fire instead of an ornament you're blaming the agent for not sorting it out quickly.

The tenancy hasn't lapsed. The agent has allowed it to default to a Statutory Periodic Tenancy, which is fine if he wasn't given instructions by you to the contrary.

You say the agent didn't ask you if you wanted to extend the tenancy. Hang on - you employed him to let and manage the property and he'll continue to do that until you tell him otherwise.

Granted he didn't explain the legalities to you, but you pay him to manage the property, not teach you the intricacies of the Housing Acts 1988 and 1996.

I've used deliberately provocative language here, and as I said at the start I am to some extent playing Devil's Advocate. There are certainly counter-arguments to everything I've just said and it may be that you have every right to feel let down by the service this agent has provided.

I'm simply demonstrating that there MIGHT be an alternative take on the situation.

Paul Chambers

12:44 PM, 19th November 2014
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Steve From Leicester" at "19/11/2014 - 11:34":

Hi,
Thanks for the reply (and to everyone else for their replies)
I'd like to comment on a few of the points you've raised
The back yard is shared and in the yard there is a few outbuilding which I assume used to be toilets, the building isn't in any way linked or associated with the house, we asked the question if we could keep it and the answer was yes.

The washing machine, we asked if we should take it or leave it and what a new tenant would likely to prefer (it made no difference to us) the reply we got was it's as it's fairly new its always easier for the tenant if there's already a washing machine but it's best if you state it's a gift and you have no responsibility for it when it breaks down

As for the fireplace, this was another point we raised with the agent and stated that it wasn't fit for use and asked if we should get it repaired, the reply was that this day and age nobody uses them so their is no point repairing it and the best thing to do is list it as decoration purposes only, as he was the expert we assumed he knew best.

And lastly, the tenancy agreement, you state he is not there to teach me but to manage, surely thats what I pay them for, if I knew the in's and out's I wouldn't be employing someone to do it for me? I'd expect them to keep all the agreements etc up to date.

Thanks
Paul

Ian Ringrose

14:08 PM, 19th November 2014
About 4 years ago

Steve,

I don’t see the problem with a locked shed that tenants don’t have access too provided they are told about it before signing the AST.

On all the other points, I would say that a good agent would not let the landlord make errors like that; therefore the agent is at fault. Part of the skill of an agent is to education their clients to the level that is needed to avoid this type of issues.

trevor white

23:53 PM, 19th November 2014
About 4 years ago

None of the issues may really matter. If the agent has not brought sufficiently to your attention the fact that you have to pay indefinite renewal fees and the initial tenancy has expired you may serve notice and manage the property yourself.

Steve From Leicester

15:16 PM, 20th November 2014
About 4 years ago

I did say I was playing Devil's Advocate and being deliberately provocative. In reality my sentiments are pretty much in line with Ian Ringrose's most recent comment.

From what has been said I think the agent was either inexperienced or simply not bold enough to tell Paul what best practice was, instead opting to take the easy way out by telling Paul what he thought he'd like to hear.

I will say though that when you're keen to win an instruction it takes guts to say to your prospective client that you want him to spend money fixing fires, carrying the risk of maintaining white goods etc, knowing that the next agent through the door might say "Nah, don't worry, that'll be fine"

The agent has also clearly not got a robust renewal policy and he allowed it to drift into periodic without communicating properly with either tenant or landlord. Its fair to criticise him for this.

Once again I have some sympathy though. My company does have a robust renewal policy, actively finding out landlord and tenants intentions and encouraging them to renew rather than drift into periodic. This takes time and costs us money so we make a charge for it . . . . and as a consequence we are sometimes accused of generating unnecessary work to enable us to take money off people. I'm not complaining, merely observing that there are times when an agent can't win either way.

Let's also not forget that Paul's agent did put what Paul himself described as "a model tenant" into the property in the first place. Does he not deserve a big dollop of credit for that?

1 2

Leave Comments

Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.

Forgotten your password?

OR

BECOME A MEMBER

Waltham Forest Council uncover Rent to Rent Scammer

The Landlords Union

Become a Member, it's FREE

Our mission is to facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst UK landlords, tenants and letting agents

Learn More