What to do when your sole trader letting agent dies?

by Readers Question

6:43 AM, 27th December 2016
About 2 years ago

What to do when your sole trader letting agent dies?

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What to do when your sole trader letting agent dies?

I’m a landlord of two houses. I use an agent to manage them. He is a sole trader and really the business is him. RIP

He was a terrific man and sadly he died last week.

I spoke with his widow when the rent for one of the houses didn’t come to me. She explained about his death and that the bank account to which the rents go in has been frozen by the bank.

I want to support her as much as I can, but at the same time need to ensure that I can recover the frozen rent and have the future rents paid into a safe account.

Can anyone offer any advice?

Jacquie



Comments

Neil Patterson

6:49 AM, 27th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Jacquie

I am very sorry to hear about your agent and fortunately we have not had this question before.

Have you been in contact with the Redress Scheme for the agent? If anyone has a contingency plan it would be them as they are responsible for so many individual agents and the most likely to have run across this before.

Gary Nock

10:37 AM, 27th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Jacquie,

I am very sad to hear of your agents death.

If this is a business account as a sole trader then he should have and indeed may have his wife as a signatory. In which case the bank should not have frozen the account. The danger is of course is that it was a personal account and the bank then treat your rents as his assets.

But as hard as this may seem your immediate priority is your rent and management arrangements. Obviously his widow has more on her mind than rents and management. I would very sympathetically broach it to her that you can assist at the moment by speaking with your tenants and changing the bank account over to yours for the time being - and covering the management if you feel it is something you can do. If not you could look at one of the Homecare schemes which for a fuxed fee of about £25 a month per property will look after boilers, radiators, leaks, electrics etc. The normal things you get calls or texts about on a Sunday morning as an agent. You normally have to sign up for 12 months but as an interim solution this may be worth considering.

Mark Alexander

10:43 AM, 27th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Jacquie

Firstly I offer my condolences.

My suggestion is that you contact LettingSupermarket.com - see >>> https://www.property118.com/letting-supermarket-full-management/68829/
.

H B

16:14 PM, 27th December 2016
About 2 years ago

This is very sad.

If he was a sole trader, then all contracts that you had with him ceased at the point he died.

If the account was frozen, the tenant should have had the money returned to them. However, if any money is still sitting in his account owable to you, you may find it trickier to claim, although I am sure that his executor will be cooperative.

I think that the money might need to be returned to the tenant and for you to then have them pay you directly.

Obviously important to get new payment details to the tenants as well.

Jay James

18:55 PM, 27th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Jacquie

As he was a sole trader, anything he owed to you must now be paid to you by his estate. Write to the executor and / or his wife asking for the money, albeit with some tact.
--
As the management contract was ended by his death, you are free to make arrangements with any other agent you wish.

Puzzler

9:35 AM, 28th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Jay is right but there may be a delay due to the process of probate. This can take several months so put the future payments somewhere else. He should have had a business account, I would speak to his bank. If you get no joy with the business manager speak to their bereavement line. It is not a foregone conclusion that the business has to close if someone were to take it on but there would still be a delay.

A lesson for all of us - check the succession plan of any professional you deal with.

Graham Bowcock

16:43 PM, 31st December 2016
About 2 years ago

Dear Jacquie

I am sorry to hear of the death of your agent (especially in light of my firm's clients' account manager passing away on Christmas Day).

The first thing to do is make sure that the tenant deals with you (or a new agent) from now on, especially in for rent payments. Do not allow them to pay the former agent's account.

I suspect that your agent's bank will not discuss anything with you, but if is widow remains co-operative they will no doubt talk to her. Presumably there are other clients in the same situation. If he was a sole trader then it is correct that the account will be frozen until probate.

Hopefully your rent was collected into a dedicated clients' account which should make things a bit easier in identifying your money. If your agent was a chartered surveyor then he would have needed agreement from his bank that clients' money cannot be used to offset any debts he has personally. If not then you may have a problem, although it sounds like your agent was reliable and professional.

I would recommend that you write to the widow and to the Executors (if she will tell you who they are) formally requesting any money you are owed and also any original documents that they hold (e.g. tenancies, gas certificates, etc.). This act is not intended to be aggressive but merely factual so that those involved realise they need to deal with you.

I hope that all works out well for you.

Graham


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