Letting agents pass key without deposit, advanced rent and signed contract

by Readers Question

10:32 AM, 13th January 2020
About 2 weeks ago

Letting agents pass key without deposit, advanced rent and signed contract

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Letting agents pass key without deposit, advanced rent and signed contract

My letting agents gave my key to a new tenant without receiving the deposit and advance rent and before signing the contract. I signed for a full Management service from my letting agency as I am busy and don’t want to take any stress.

Now they have finally found a tenant and the tenant was meant to move on 28 December 19. However, on that day the tenant sent me a message on Facebook saying he can’t move into the house dirty etc he will move in 2nd of January 20.

I said to him okay that’s fine I will double check and if needed I will do the cleaning.

Mean time I was on holiday and immediately once I was return, I book a cleaning service on 2nd January. I couldn’t go as I live in London and my property is in Birmingham so my dad went to give access to the cleaner.

Surprise!!! The tenant already got the keys and moved in the same exact day 28th December 2019 and didn’t mention it to me or the agency.

So my question is: He didn’t sign the agreement, didn’t pay a deposit and rent – how can the agency have given out my property keys in the meantime? If he damages something and leaves who is liable?

Now cleaning has been done the tenant is happy and the agency doesn’t have a clue regarding payment when asked to transfer me the rent they realised and chase tenant.

Now the funny part is the tenant is saying he did book a cleaning service and paid £40 and he’s got a receipt he would like to get reimbursed.

Now the agency got kind of pushy and trying to convince me it’s only £40 etc. I was firm I said no  it was sorted.

BTW all this time the agency didn’t have a clue that the tenant hadn’t signed the agreement until around 5th or 7th January 20 I asked the agency to send me the signed agreement and then they realised.

Finally tenant paid now the agency paying me late and with inaccurate figure so the rent is £750 and the agency set up fee £400 plus monthly management fees £59 so I was expecting first month rent I will receive £291 instead received £91. They deduct £200 for emergency repairs cost etc.

Every time I call the agency they have no clue and are always giving me the wrong information.

Any suggestions what can I do please as this is giving so much stress and anxiety and feeling like I am so depressed I am a new landlord.

Thanks

Tanzin



Comments

Tessa Shepperson

11:19 AM, 13th January 2020
About 2 weeks ago

It sounds as if your agents are in breach of their agency agreement (but read it first to check what they have agreed to do for you).

If they are failing to deal with your issues properly you can bring a complaint about them to their property redress scheme: https://www.landlordlawblog.co.uk/2018/04/10/property-redress-schemes/

Or if the issues are serious you may be entitled to cancel your agency agreement (but check carefully first and maybe take legal advice).

Note that we have guidance on my service for landlords in this position which you can read about here: https://landlordlaw.co.uk/openaccess_trails/dealing-with-problem-letting-agents-a-guide-for-landlords/

Lindsay Keith

11:23 AM, 13th January 2020
About 2 weeks ago

Sack them. Engage someone competent. Write this off to experience.

Paul Shears

11:35 AM, 13th January 2020
About 2 weeks ago

1. You have delegated far too much. It's obvious that you know less about the agency than your tenant. You have made a mistake and there is nothing to do but deal with it. You should seriously reconsider whether you want to be a landlord at all.
2. Get rid of the agency at the first opportunity. This will take a long time if you are going to do this from a position of knowing who you are dealing with. Frankly £291 per month profit less tax seems pointless to me.
3. You say you have no time to manage this and you do not want any stress. Well firstly just take the small financial hit and then set about sorting this mess out. You really cannot delegate this to anyone else. If you decide you want to keep renting a house out that you cannot visit at such a theoretically low profit then the first thing you need to do is find a decent agent. This will take a lot of time and research on your part. Personally, after nine years in this game, I have never heard of one and neither have any of my landlord associates. Your experience is just typical of the underlying problem with all these types of social structures particularly as they get bigger. The staff are simply not up to the job and no amount of training or experience will make it so. Your agent, if he had any brains, would have examined the whole situation before contacting you, taken the cleaning hit himself, and tried to manage his mistakes in a professional manner rather than just dump the whole problem back on you, his employer. You are wasting your time with this agent who, like yourself, will be trying to be as hands off as possible. This is the all too common true meaning of what constitutes an "agent" in my extensive painful experience no matter what field they work in. Get rid of them.

Gary Nock

11:42 AM, 13th January 2020
About 2 weeks ago

There are some agents who advertise really low management fees to get your business and they haven't got the skills, experience, compliance and software infrastructure to manage the tenancy. There are over 150 statutes on the law books and they all need complying with. All the above cost money. Don't know if its like that in this case. I agree with Tessa- this is inexcusable and incompetent behaviour from an agent and they would no doubt be ordered to pay compensation to you as a landlord by whichever property redress scheme they are in. Please check that they have membership of both a property redress scheme and a Client Money Protection Scheme. Both are compulsory and they should not be trading without them. If they do not have them then you can report to the Trading Standards in the area where the property is situated.

Paul Hawkins

14:35 PM, 13th January 2020
About 2 weeks ago

Shocked but sadly not surprised!

If you think LL's have a bad reputation, then agents come a close second 🙂

I gave up using agents a long time ago, joined the NLA, gained my accreditation with them and continue to add to my knowledge. Being a landlord can sometimes be hard work, regardless of if you rent direct or use an agency. Sorry to hear of your experience.

As everyone else has suggested - get rid of the agent as soon as possible, complain to the agent's redress scheme if they are a member, and either find another agent (this site has a connections with Lettings Supermarket). Not used them, but I'm sure there will be many on this site which can vouch for them.

Mike T

20:11 PM, 13th January 2020
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Paul Shears at 13/01/2020 - 11:35
Hi Paul, just a little point on the monthly profit. The first month was low because of the set-up fee of £400. It seems the regular amount would be 750 less 59 giving a profit (before any other exs, like mortgage etc) of 691 which is a lot more acceptable

Paul Shears

20:37 PM, 13th January 2020
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Mike T at 13/01/2020 - 20:11
Fair comment. I replied too quickly.

Sami Houmrani

1:26 AM, 14th January 2020
About 2 weeks ago

Time to Ditch Your Managing Agent?

Graham Bowcock

13:43 PM, 15th January 2020
About 2 weeks ago

Your agent has failed a basic test. In my agency days, and now as a landlord, nobody moves in without a signed agreement, first month's rent paid (and cleared), deposit paid (and cleared). It is sad, but true, that you cannot really trust anybody these days and it is harder to sort something out when the tenant has the keys.

The agent should be asked to consider their position - if it was me I would be very embarrassed and would do some swift and clear deal on fees to try and keep the business, trying to remedy the situation at the same time. It does sound like they should go, though.

You do really need to have strong words with the agency's owner, sooner rather than later.


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