Shelter’s Income and expenditure figures highlighted13:57 PM, 4th February 2019
About 3 weeks ago 35
I am a landlord of over 10 years now and I have to say I’m very rarely shocked, but I feel that this particular letting agent has over stepped the mark of what is acceptable behaviour and should be punished.
The only problem is – I don’t know how to go about it and would appreciate other members views.
What would you do with a letting agent, who thinks that they are so big that they are untouchable?
About 3 or 4 months ago, 3 of my 1 bedroom self contained flats in Liverpool were issued with notices to quit by the tenants. A couple of them complained about the crappy service they received from my Letting Agent and at that time, I just put it down to grumblings from tenants who like to tell you the homes they are going to are always better etc..
I also was due to go into hospital for a major heart bypass operation and knew that I would be out of action for at least 3 months and so I asked my letting agent to start marketing some of my HMO’s in Liverpool and the Wirral also.
I then had extra keys made and arranged to drop them around at the letting agents. They must have had the keys for about a week before I went into hospital.
Everything was going to plan until my wife asked to see a copy of the tenancy agreements that they were going to use. As she didn’t have a clue what to look for and passed them over to me. I thought they would make interesting reading after the operation, (sad I know, but I love being a landlord).
When I eventually read them I nearly fell out of my hospital bed, with shock!
I don’t claim to know anything about the law, but I can smell trouble brewing and I immediately withdrew my permission to let my HMO’s through their business.
The reason for my actions was that it was plain to see that the tenancy agreements breached consumer protection legislation as they asked for tenants to sign pages to say that they had “Read and Understood” what they were signing, there were charges all over the place and the clauses were in fine print and could be construed as misleading.
I knew from articles on Property118.com and others that these clauses were specifically banned by the OFT.
In addition they had a clause in the agreement that charged tenants for the creation of a new AST, if the tenant ventured into the territory of a periodic tenancy. This sent alarm bells ringing in my head, because I had often wondered why tenants were leaving every 6 months and not just continuing their tenancies, like all my other tenants do?
When I ended their opportunity to rent, they obviously didn’t like it and a member of staff said that she would charge my wife £130 for each HMO they were no longer marketing. On the face of it I thought I had got away with a lucky escape and initially thought I might as well pay up. But then another member of staff spoke to my wife and said they normally charge £700 for each property, but as a gesture of goodwill they were prepared to reduce this amount to £300 each.
When she told me, I had to be held down as I was absolutely hopping mad. So I did what I normally do in such situations and did a bit of research. What I found out eventually put my mind at rest as I soon realised the letting agents didn’t have a leg to stand on as there were so many anomalies I doubt if I could have even brought a repossession case against a tenant through the courts with what they described as a tenancy agreement, it was a joke!
But I was still facing a bill of over £600 and so I put down in writing several of the breaches in consumer protection law that their tenancy agreement were causing and sent off the letter via my wife.
The letting agent eventually got in touch with my wife and said that they had decided not to issue any charges and that would be the end of any further problems…. or so I thought until yesterday.
You may recall at the beginning of this article, I said that I had some 1 bedroom flats in Liverpool that I was trying to let.
Well considering they are in an established area, we don’t ask for a security deposit, we do obviously insist on a suitable guarantor and we also accept LHA tenants, we expected that these properties would fly off the shelf. But they have been on the market for nearly 4 months and in all that time, we have only had 3 viewings and I’m not even sure about that.
So as I am still recovering, I had to make a promise to my wife to stay away from the business and so in an attempt not to break my word, we asked a friend who knows the flats to see what was wrong with the advertising.
Our friend got back in touch with us yesterday evening and told us what was the problem. I just couldn’t believe what the letting agent had done and neither will you, (I hope).
The letting agent, it would appear, out of sheer spite had placed maintenance pictures of our property when it had problems with black spot mould on the walls, a damaged kitchen and had specifically published maintenance department photographs sent to us privately, when previous tenants had made a complaint.
At that time we had arranged redecoration and to have fitted humidistat fans into the property at no small cost to ourselves, but at that time, I had refused their ridiculous quotation for them to do the works, which would have cost thousands across 4 flats.
In addition to their many crimes against their employer (me), they have published internal shots of a maisonette we own and claimed they were internal shots of the flats. Anyone viewing will think the flats have an internal staircase.
So later today, I intend to have a go at their company director, who needs sending to prison. But in the meantime, I would like to know from other members, what you would do in this situation, apart from sacking them as your agent?
I’m a big fellah and I don’t start crying easily, but can I sue for damages, name and shame them, break their windows or what?
I’ve lost nearly 4 months of potential rent, I’m having to pay council tax on 3 unoccupied flats and all this time, the letting agents have been telling lies and laughing behind my back. My only mistake was to trust that they would act in a professional manner, which they haven’t and hope that they would get these flats re-rented fast.
I think that deserves a good kicking, but I want to damage their reputation or business like they have tried to damage mine.
In the meantime, I still have these images to deal with that are plastered all over the place, gumtree, rightmove etc.
Thanks in advance for your advice.
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