Unfair contract terms in proposed tenancy agreement

Unfair contract terms in proposed tenancy agreement

12:58 PM, 7th February 2014, About 8 years ago 37

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Hello All,

I’m hoping someone can maybe help me. I’ve recently moved to Brighton, where the property market is very buoyant. I am moving into a property next week with a Letting Agency. There are some (what I consider to be) very OTT clauses in the agreement, and I’m wondering if anyone knows if they are legally enforceable? Do I have the right to ask for them to be altered? It seems the Letting Agency can do what they like.

I am concerned about the following:

“Not hold or conduct any social gathering at the Property or to use or permit to be used in the premises any piano, pianola, radio or television set, loudspeaker, gramophone, record player, tape recorder, MP3 speaker system, computer stereo or any mechanical or musical or other instrument or contrivance of any kind or any washing machine, spin dryer, refrigerator or other machine of any kind (in such a manner as aforesaid) to practice or permit singing or any other noise which may disturb in the premises so as to be audible or cause nuisance to Neighbours and in particular during the Night Hours – before nine a.m. in the morning or after nine p.m. at night”

– The problem is I am a musician, so will have instruments in the property – no piano, pianola or grammophone, but I will also have a TV and a washing machine and a fridge. And I sing in the shower. I have lived in rented accommodation for many years and never had any complaints about noise. I can understand the need to have a clause about not causing a nuisance to neighbours, but if I have any musical instruments, a TV, washing machine, MP3 player or fridge in use in the house, it seems this will make me in breach of contract. Unfair contract terms in proposed tenancy agreement

“Keep clean the windows of the premises at regular intervals and replace all broken or cracked glass, regardless of how breakage or damage occurred”.

I think it’s fair enough to replace if we have caused them to break, but this looks like the landlord could potentially sit outside with an air rifle taking pot shots whenever he wants the windows replaced.

“Notify the Landlord or his agent forthwith in writing of any defect in the property which is the responsibility of the Landlord. Repairs which need urgent attention must be reported by telephone (any leaks or escapes of water / failure of heating and hot water apparatus). The Tenant must not in any circumstances affect repairs or give instructions for any such repairs without the Landlord’s written consent otherwise the Tenant shall be responsible for the cost of any repairs carried out in breach of this provision. The Landlord will not offer compensation in any form or reduction of rent to any tenants in respect of repairs issues, unless the right to the same is specifically implied by statute or the Court. If any defects are not reported in a timely fashion then the tenant must repair or bear the cost to repair any damage caused as a result of the Tenant not notifying the Landlord, or bear cost of any increase in repair costs that are as a direct result of the Tenants failure to notify the Landlord. The Landlords obligation to carry out repairs is applicable only to repairs reported in writing, as per current legislation”.

This sounds like we will be likely to be stuck with no repair for weeks on end…

Finally “Not erect external aerials or satellite dishes”

There is already a satellite dish on the property – which we didn’t erect. But I’m concerned that will also immediately make us in breach of contract.

Please advise. I have never had such a prescriptive contract before. The agency already charged us £150 each to perform a reference check, and the contract mentions another £50 contract fee, on top of a £200 holding fee for the property.

Please help!

Thanks

Maggie



Comments

by Jeremy Smith

18:11 PM, 9th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Dear IO,

How can the following NOT apply to Maggie, they have taken her pre-contract deposit, before she has had the opportunity to see the contract:

"Pre-contract deposits
3.85 If the landlord or agents take a non-refundable pre-contract deposit, they may in effect bind the prospective tenant to accept terms ‘sight unseen’ "

And secondly, you are wrong to say the agent is not going to let Maggie talk to the landlord/the landlord doesn't want to, because you don't know the landlord (or do you?), you don't know why he/she is using an agent.

I am using agents to let some of my properties, and I insist, if possible, to meet the prospective tenants. The agent is very happy for this too.

by Industry Observer

18:45 PM, 9th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Jeremy

If tenant had to see agreement before the agent etc could take any fees and not have to refund them why don't the OFT say no fees can be taken before they see it?

Second part is just my personal opinion based on 20 years experience. I hope the agent does allow contact but if they are ropey enough to use an agreement like this I very much doubt they are up front - don't you?

by Maggie Stevenson

20:54 PM, 9th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Haha oh! Well there goes that idea. So the terms are legally enforceable if I sign the contract? If I ask them to alter the contract are they likely to just tell me where to go?

by Mark Alexander

23:15 PM, 9th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Maggie Stevenson" at "09/02/2014 - 20:54":

Hi Maggie

The terms you have quoted are highly unlikely to legally enforceable even if you sign to accept them.
.

by Jeremy Smith

23:32 PM, 9th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Industry Observer " at "09/02/2014 - 18:45":

This paragraph relating to Pre-contract deposits is in the context of unfair terms and conditions, remember.

The prospective tenant pays the deposit, expecting the terms to be fair and reasonable, if they then find the contract, up to which point they had not seen, turns out not to be fair or reasonable, then the OFT considers the binding contract to be unfair.
- That is the crux of the argument, IMO.
- I would think that's why the OFT don't take the stance you suggest IO.

As far as meeting the landlord, Maggie, you should at least ask, despite IO's negativity, but I do agree with IO that most landlords probably would not want contact - no harm in asking though !
However, as I said before, these terms may not even be the words of the Landlord, it maybe just a standard text the agent uses.

I've just realised, although I use agents, I have not even seen the contract my tenants have signed, the agent signs it on my behalf !!
I hope there are no terms in it like the ones you have cited !!

Again, do some legwork and see if you can dig up any other useful information from the neighbours - you may be surprised at what you can find out !!
They may be pleased to meet you, whenever a new neighbour is coming, everyone is apprehensive about who they might get next door !!

Note: All comments are IMO only.

by Industry Observer

9:31 AM, 10th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Jeremy

I have fought a 2 year battle with the OFT so know exactly how they think (stupidly though it may be and even though they do not like being told what they say or think is not actually the Law).

You are right in terms of payments made as part performance of a contract.

Never negative Jeremy - just realistic after 20+ years of dealing with Landlords and agents like this pair

by Jeremy Smith

19:02 PM, 11th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Industry Observer " at "10/02/2014 - 09:31":

Absolutely IO,

with 20+ years under your belt, and a tussle with the OFT, I know you'd have alot more experience than me.

Different backgrounds and differenct experiences, we can put them all together here, for the benefit of us all.

I wonder how Maggie is getting on, I hope we find out the end of the story...

...Where are you Maggie ?


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