Letting Agent has left us out of pocket

by Readers Question

11:14 AM, 25th June 2013
About 6 years ago

Letting Agent has left us out of pocket

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Letting Agent has left us out of pocket

Letting Agent has left us out of pocketWe had been using a Letting Agent to manage a property we own. The tenants were there for 16 months, leaving on 30 April 2013. Our Agent had phoned us telling us the property was “clean, in good order”, but we wanted to see it for ourselves.

A few days later we met with him at our property to find the garden hadn’t been touched for months, very overgrown etc.

Inside the property we were met with the overpowering smell of cigarette smoke – we had clearly stated no smoking.

The place had possibly had a vacuum ran over it, barely, so it was in need of a thorough clean. The tenants had apparently hired a carpet cleaner but the carpets were in an appalling state, badly marked.

A set of new ladders were missing as were a pair of hedge trimmers (electric), a gas lift bar stool was broken beyond repair, dumped in the garage and they had decided to dig up an area of our garden & throw a couple of slabs on it.

Obviously, we brought these matters up with the agent, who seemed keen to ignore our concerns. We left our property telling him we would go home and look at the tenancy agreement and the inventory.

We left him at 5:10pm, I arrived home at 5:30 and immediately sent the agent and email telling him NOT to release any deposit until we spoke to him. However, he ignored this email and our earlier instructions because, as we subsequently found out from The Deposit Protection Scheme. He released the deposit to the tenants the day after we had viewed our property with him present and after he ignored our email!!

We have been left out of pocket as we have had to re-decorate the entire kitchen, pay for carpets to be cleaned, the garden to be sorted out, missing items have had to be replaced…but we want to take action against the agent, who will help us??

Thanks

Catherine



Comments

Mark Alexander

11:21 AM, 25th June 2013
About 6 years ago

Hi Catherine

There are several routes for you to consider here as follows, in no particular order:-

1) Find out whether your letting agent belongs to any professional bodies and if they do, raise an official complaint.

2) Make a claim for breach of duty of care and negligence against your agent through the small claims court for your losses.

3) Make a claim for against your former tenants through the small claims court for your losses.

My preference would be option two.

If you are not confident enough to do this yourself I would recommend you to contact Paul Shamplina at Landlord Action. They operate a fixed fee service and handle the entire process. They even have in house solicitors to check every detail and process all of the Court papers for you. They have been in business since 1999 and over 210,000 calls have been received on their free landlords helpline - see >>> http://www.property118.com/member/?id=190

16:59 PM, 26th June 2013
About 6 years ago

Small claims court. Definitely. Pretty straightforward and easy to do yourself. My agent backed down and paid up. But tried to drag it out as long as he could hoping I would accept an offer. Plus tried to insinuate that I'd probably lose the case!! Luckily I have a professional relationship with a solicitor so knew I had a very strong case.

Keep all your paperwork. All fees are paid back to you when/if you win (I think).

I have a massive mistrust for letting agents in full. Some are really good but.......

Peter Harris

17:01 PM, 26th June 2013
About 6 years ago

Most of the tenancy deposit schemes take the tenants side and you and the agent would be on a hiding to nothing..The pendulum has swung to far to the tenants and the agent probably acted to quickly but would probably have to return it in the end.
Most of what you are worried about is down to the tenants.. If the agent had to take the tenants to court for the garden etc... it would be you that would have had to pay however, I would like to think they gave you a choice..

My advice would be the same as Mark's but think carefully before spending even more money which you probably won't get back... The Joys of renting..Most tenants are very good but not many perfect..

Peter Harris

Joe Bloggs

11:36 AM, 27th June 2013
About 6 years ago

the lessons to be learnt:
- never use agents (most dont care about you, only their commission)
- always take the inventory and ast to checkouts.
- periodically inspect

Mark Alexander

11:55 AM, 27th June 2013
About 6 years ago

@Joe Bloggs - That's a bit OTT isn't it. How can you say NEVER use an agent. There are some very good ones around and there are also some very good reasons for using one. Finding a good agent often helps people to save both time and money. Not everybody can get to their properties easily and not everybody is cut out to manage property, never mind understand all the laws and pitfalls.

Joe Bloggs

12:18 PM, 27th June 2013
About 6 years ago

hi mark
my advice was specifically for catherine who only lives 20 mins away and clearly has some nouse.
i do have a very low opinion of all agents that i have had the misfortune to instruct/ encounter. that is why i dont use them.
the law of averages suggests there may be some good ones, but it could take a lifetime finding them and sorting out the mess created by the bad ones.

Mark Alexander

12:21 PM, 27th June 2013
About 6 years ago

@Joe Bloggs - the good ones are relatively easy to find if you know what you are looking for. Here an example of one I found earlier >>> http://www.property118.com/find-me-a-tenant/

16:53 PM, 27th June 2013
About 6 years ago

thanks for the responses Mark & Joe Bloggs especially. I have read them and can see both points of view. I like to think that not ALL agents are just in it for the commission, I am not opposed to small claims court route but should i write to the ex-agent first regarding our out of pocket expenses, damages etc which are down to him not doing his job properly - or should I just go ahead and go for the claim? And can we claim for Loss of Rent (3 months as we have had work to do to get it ready for a new tenants) ?
thanks Joe, i do have a bit of nouse, I'll take that as a compliment! I most definately wont' be "seen off" and feel very aggrieved that he THINKS he's gotten away with it, which myself and my husband don't want him to!
Any comments, advice would be most appreciated and I thank you in advance.

Mark Alexander

18:11 PM, 27th June 2013
About 6 years ago

Hi Catherine

Standard protocol is to write to the agent giving him at least seven days to respond to your claim, failing which you will take the matter up via the small claims court.

Joe Bloggs

19:43 PM, 27th June 2013
About 6 years ago

hi catherine
it was a compliment! so many people are apathetic and just allow these things to happen, which is why it is so common. you can do small claims court applications online.

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