No signed contract with agent and inventory not up to date

by Readers Question

2 years ago

No signed contract with agent and inventory not up to date

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No signed contract with agent and inventory not up to date

I’m not an experienced landlord & only started renting out my house last year, following relationship breakdown. I’ve used a very well known letting agent from the start, to provide a fully managed service for me as I have a busy job, little time & I haven’t got a clue how to manage it myself.no contract

They have provided a really poor service, right from the word go and I’m really cross with myself for sticking with them after the last tenants left. Although I have a string of complaints about them, my main issue with them at present relates to the inventory and I’m wondering how I can go about extricating myself from them, without getting into trouble.

I asked the agency to source new tenants during October ’15. There were a couple of false starts as people failed credit checks. Then in the last week of November I had a call to tell me about a possible tenant. I agreed that he sounded fine, pending credit checks, and waited to hear back from the agent about it, assuming I’d get a call to notify me that checks were complete and to discuss timescales.

On 30th Nov I got a call from the agents, telling me that the tenant was moving in that day. I was a bit taken aback, there had been no mention of a moving in date and because the T&C paperwork I’d received from them was incorrect. The tenant moved in but despite me pointing out that the agency’s paperwork was incorrect, I never received an amended version. I have still not signed any contract or T&C paperwork at all, despite the tenant having been living in the house since 30/11/15. I don’t quite know what kind of position this puts me in?

I received the inventory through from the agents on 9th Dec. I immediately noticed that it was totally incorrect. It had been dated 30/11 but the pictures were stamped with 27/11. A lot of work had been done to the house between 27th & 30th, including new flooring in one of the rooms & painting throughout. I wrote to the agency the following day pointing out that it was wrong & followed this with a detailed email of exactly why it was wrong. I finally received a response on 11/01/16, with their solution to be new photos taken of the house that day & a new inventory sent to me. I still haven’t received a correct inventory & I’m really irritated as they have already charged me £120 for it.

I would like to get rid of the letting agency as they’ve caused nothing but problems from the outset. I don’t have any issue with the tenant and would be happy for him to stay there but I don’t know where I stand on this. Am I in a really tenuous position, having not signed any contracts etc?

Please could someone give me advice on how best to manage this?

Many thanks
Ruth



Comments

Annie Landlord

2 years ago

I removed a property from the management of a high street agent because, like you, I was very dissatisfied with the level of service. They tried to charge me several hundred pounds to come out of the contract but I went into the office and argued the toss with them and the fee was reduced by 80% I then discovered that they had NEVER completed an inventory, although they had told me they had, and charged me for it. They continued, throughout their complaints procedure, to insist that the inventory had been 'misplaced' by their office - but as the tenant (who is a very nice, well organised person) hadn't received it I'm sure they had failed to complete one. I took the case to the Property Ombudsman and was awarded three times the figure the agent had offered. If you are sure of your case instigate the agent's complaints procedure and keep going.
Best of luck

Annie Landlord

2 years ago

I have just tried to post a comment but received the message 'duplicate comment'. Don't know what's going on! Anyway, the gist of my comment was, if you're sure of your ground just instigate the agent's complaints procedure and if you don't get the conclusion you think is right take the case to the Property Ombudsman. I did this with a hire street chain that failed to do an inventory and I was awarded compensation.
Good luck

Michael Coulson

2 years ago

Letting agents are not like sales, you don't sign a contract for say 12 weeks. You may sign a contract to confirm you have the right to let the property & giving them permission to manage it, but normally they will want about 2 weeks notice for you to leave them as they have no doubt paid for advertising in a local paper. So find out if they have a notice period (we don't) & after that find a better agent.

Rob Crawford

2 years ago

Hi Ruth, please can you clarify; do you have any "terms of business" agreed between yourself and the agent? With regard to the inventory you may find in the small print that the property has to be presented for the inventory a certain time before the tenant moves in. It's a nightmare situation for the agent to turn up as agreed to find the property is not ready. It takes a while to compile the inventory (and condition report). It would appear that you have been left out of the loop, but are you available during working hours? I would book an appointment with the agent on the basis that you wish to be convinced via an audit that all is correct. Draw up a list and forward to them in advance. This may include your examination of the AST, Tenant ID & Reference/credit/immigration checks, inventory, proof of deposit protection and issue of prescribed information. Also issue of the gas safe certificate and "How-to-rent guide (if tenant occupied after Sept 2015. If you have a friendly NLA / ARL rep or experienced landlord, taking them with you may help.

Annie Landlord

2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Michael Coulson" at "26/01/2016 - 23:09":

The contract with the letting agent I was with said it would cost £700 to get out of the contract AT ANY TIME while the same tenant was renting the property. I think that was declared an 'unfair clause'. This was a high street national chain owned by Countrywide (which many of them are)

Michael Coulson

2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Annie Landlord" at "27/01/2016 - 12:25":

Dear Annie, have you seen where it tells you that it will cost £700.00 in the contract ? If not unless you signed something else they can't hold you to that.

I'm an agent. My contract says that if I manage the property and you wish to withdraw from the management service (but continue renting to the same tenant) I require one month's notice plus the equivalent of six months management fee as a placement fee.

If someone has genuine grounds to be unhappy with our service I'll reduce or even waive that but otherwise it stands, and I can assure Annie that it is not considered by the courts to be an unfair term. And Michael, if someone hasn't signed our terms of business then, unless they have something in writing from us to say otherwise. they have an "implied contract" with us on our standard terms of business.

The reason we enforce this clause vigorously is to stop landlords signing up for the management service, then ditching us if the tenancy proves easy to manage, but leaving us to deal with it if the tenancy proves more challenging. Our management fee is based on us taking the rough with the smooth,- landlords can't have it both ways.

Going back to the original question, go through the agent's official complaints process, stating how you believe the agent has failed in his duties to you, and the outcome you require (which might be to simply terminate your contract without penalty). If they disagree go to whichever Ombudsman scheme they're registered with.

I take the point that you appear to have been left out of the loop, but also agree with Rob Crawford that landlords leaving refurbs till the last minute is a regular problem for agents, particularly when it comes to getting an inventory done.

Luke P

2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Steve From Leicester" at "28/01/2016 - 13:55":

I think I have posted about this before, but I have had problems with an agent in the past. I asked for their redress scheme name and they weren't part of one. None of the schemes were willing to help so I contacted Trading Standards who went to see them and basically said, "Make sure you join one soon." No follow up an no redress for me.

Agents may well be best not being a member until something goes wrong and even then risk whether enforcement will happen...the fine might even be less than any penalty imposed by a redress scheme!

Agreed Luke,

I'm assuming that as Ruth described them as a well known agent they are compliant with the requirement to be a member of an approved scheme, but if they're not she will have much more difficulty getting a result, whilst the agent may well get away with a slap on the wrist.

Luke P

2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Steve From Leicester" at "28/01/2016 - 15:17":

My previous comment has just prompted me to check again the agent in question with my case...guess what...they're STILL not a member. I reported them back in October!!

As a law-abiding agent, I might as well cancel my membership because they're certainly not checking/doing anything about it (locally to me at least anyway).

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