The Ombudsman has ruled, fair or not, you decide ….

by Readers Question

18:28 PM, 21st May 2013
About 8 years ago

The Ombudsman has ruled, fair or not, you decide ….

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The Ombudsman has ruled, fair or not, you decide ….

The Ombudsman has ruled, fair or not, you decide ....I previously posted information about a problem Estate Agent who had let my property in Dover to a family on DSS with 7 children contrary to my instructions of no DSS tenants and no pets. I was very specific about my requirements due to a nightmare and costly experience with a previous tenant on DSS who trashed my property.

On discovering that my agents had disregarded my instructions, I wrote a complaint to them holding them responsible for any loss of rent or for the cost of any repairs and evicting the Tenants or re-letting the Property. This culminated in a “desist” letter from a solicitor and immediate termination of Estate Agent services. I had also contacted the Ombudsman and after six months of waiting I finally received their report.

The Estate Agents denied that they had been informed of no DSS tenants and claimed that the tenants had never been on benefits; also that they had informed me by telephone that the tenants had 7 children and that this had been acceptable. Work had been required on the property but they considered these to be maintenance issues and they muddied issues of documentation which had not been provided despite repeated requests. They claimed that the property had been well managed until my unacceptable complaint which led them to withdraw services.

The Ombudsman confirmed that there was evidence that the instruction had been given and I had reminded the Estate Agent by e-mail of instructions prior to the contract with tenants. There was information in the contract which indicated that the tenants were on benefits and the DSS status of the family was recently confirmed by Dover District Council. The contract clearly states that there are 7 children and apart from the agents assertion that I agreed to this by telephone, no details were provided about the telephone call. (This telephone call never happened!!)

The Ombudsman considered that the Estate Agent had not followed my instructions not to accept tenants in receipt of DSS benefits and had not informed me of all relevant information about the Tenants at the time of application. Also supported was my complaint that the agent had not provided me with a copy of the Tenancy Agreement.

My insurance also is nullified and a suggestion of negotiation with insurance was made.

As regards compensation, the Ombudsman considered that it is the tenant’s responsibility to keep the place in good order and to pay costs of court action re: eviction. Likewise, eviction/re-letting costs are down to the landlord. The Ombudsman agrees that there has been aggravation and distress because of the performance of the Estate Agent and awarded £300.

I have the choice of accepting the award and the case will be closed, taking legal action or asking for reconsideration based on new evidence.

So while the Estate Agent walks away duly criticised and chastised, I am once again faced with a family with 7 children on DSS.

As there are no large properties for rent in Dover and Housing will not rehouse until the bailiffs intervene, costly eviction proceedings are on the cards.

The house is neglected and the entire house (5 floors) will have to be re-carpeted and redecorated. This cost me £13,500 in 2011 and is likely to exceed this amount.

I am not sure whether there is any room for manoeuvre and will be grateful for any advice that can be provided.

Thanking you.

Linda Lines


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Comments

Mark Alexander

22:32 PM, 5th June 2013
About 7 years ago

@Linda - seriously, please don't accept the offer. You have up to six years to make a claim via the courts. You stand a very good chance even if you make the claim yourself in my opinion. It's not absolutely vital that you have a solicitor to represent you although it would be nice to have had a lawyer post here to offer a CFA (Conditional Fee Agreement) AKA "no win no fee".

20:30 PM, 10th June 2013
About 7 years ago

An interesting discussion particularly when it comes to Ombudsman. Slightly off topic but my Wife and I have been involved in a property scheme where the solicitors acted fraudulently as did the bridging finance company involved costing us upwards of £40,000 and counting. The Financial Ombudsman has no ability to do anything to help and despite clear evidence of a fraudulent solicitor the Legal Ombudsman felt they had acted at worst "a little carelessly" and found no fault. As far as I can tell the Ombudsman schemes are nothing but a front to appease the press and give some impression of regulation. Certainly no use when you actually need anything.

1:58 AM, 17th June 2013
About 7 years ago

Hi Linda,

If you are not happy with your current tenants (not all dss tenants are bad) you can evict them but be diplomatic about it.Say to them that you are selling the property or need to do work on it.If you say this you will not fall out with them.This is important because you need to make sure you continue to receive the housing benefit and if anything goes wrong with the claim you will need there cooperation to put it right.

Once you have established that you want the property back, give them the relevant section 21/section 8 and tell them to visit the council.

Next get the paper and look for large houses that accept dss. You need to help them to find something else.May be look in a large geographical area to increase your chances of success.Also look on Gumtree and visit all the letting agents.There should be something out there but with 7 kids it may be a challenge.If the rents are good with 7 kids there will be some dss landlords that will take them although the new LHA rules are badly affecting the bigger families.

I rent to dss but I make my properties fairly damage resistant by using stripped floors rather than carpets.If the tenants pay a deposit at the start, most will want it back and avoid causing damage.

There are some LL that would welcome a large family because it can be lucrative unless of course there are claw backs in their payments.

2:05 AM, 17th June 2013
About 7 years ago

If you are going to go down the legal route, you could consider using small claims limited run by Tony Fisher as his fees are very reasonable and he is an expert in the small claims County Court.

I am going to County court tomorrow and he is representing me and I have found him to be very good but he is not a qualified lawyer.Just very experienced and he knows what he is doing.

Mark Alexander

21:21 PM, 18th June 2013
About 7 years ago

How did you get on with your Court case Bill? What was it all about?

Louise Mac

9:08 AM, 9th July 2013
About 7 years ago

Does he help tenants fight an unjustified section 21?

Mark Alexander

9:24 AM, 9th July 2013
About 7 years ago

Hi Louise

He can do, please bear with me. I am working on your article now and will be inviting Ben to comment. Give me 20 minutes please 🙂

Winsome P

10:13 AM, 9th July 2013
About 7 years ago

Remember judges can also award cost for your time! My father got £50 for a wrongly awarded parking fine!
You get what you ask for!

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