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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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I was looking flat and was contacted by Lauristons in

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I was looking for a flat and was contacted by Lauristons in Wimbledon in regards ***** ***** property at 83 Lawry Crescent, Mitcham. I viewed the property and discussed my special requirements: additional documents, bathroom door fixed, furniture removed. The agent suggested I put all of that in the offer. We exchanged all paperwork via e-mail and the landlady accepted my offer on 26.04.2015. I paid holding deposit of £1000 by debit card via the phone. 2 weeks later I was told that the door may not be fixed on time, so I asked for the "date to be completed by" to be added to the tenancy agreement. All this time I was also chasing for the additional paperwork to be done and reviewed. It's been more than a month since I made my offer and the move-in date is 1st of June. My reqirement about additional paperwork was changed several times of how it can be done (changed by the agents) and the agency just informed my (today, 28 May 2015) that the way they suggested it last time is not allowed by law. They didn't suggest any other way. When I pointed out that the paperwork was a part ofr my offer they accepted they said they'll do it but differently and sent my back to their progress department to wait for details. They finally agreed today as well, after a month of argueing, including shouting at me and accusing me of being difficult, to add the date "the bathroom door will be fixed by" to the tenancy agreement. I need to move out from my current place and move in somewhere new next week and I still haven't seen the paperwork from the additional requirements. Given that the agency changed there word several times and I'm now waiting again - I'm worried I'll have nowhere to move in next week. Is there a way I can get out of this commitment, get my deposite back and so I can quickly find something else?
Furthermore I was originally told that the fees for what I need will be different (less). That was confirmed via e-mail. Later on when the fees became bigger I was told that was misunderstanding.
When I put my initial offer on the property I paid holding deposit of £1000. I was told that if I changed my mind then this deposit is non-refundable. I'm stuck with getting additional requirements fullfilled, I tried to speak to the agents and their seniour management, I get a different story/solution/advice every time a new employee from Lauristons gets invloved. The date I need to move is getting close and I'm absolutely frustrated. I'd like to get out of this deal and find something else asap while I still have time.
What are my options to get out of the deal given that the agency is sort of doing the papaerwork again? I believe they are just trying to leave with no time for a new flat search and forcing me to sign tenancy agreement without having all additional requirements fullfilled. I haven't signed the tenancy agreement yet and that is the only reason in my opinion that they still talk to me.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 1 year ago.
Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

May I ask if you specified your additional requirements were to be carried out before you took up occupation please?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

No I haven't, the requirements I put down in my offer were that these things need to be done. I didn't mention that they need to be done before I move in. But once I started discussing the tenancy agreement I asked who'll be managing the property once I move in and found out that it would be the landlord. So given that the agency is no longer interested in the things I requested and they agreed to once I sign the agreement I asked them to prepare the documents to review so they are ready by the time I start the tenancy. And that's where the things started going to and fro. My worry is that once I sign tenancy agreement and pay the rest of the fees I might loose even more money.

Expert:  Joshua replied 1 year ago.
many thanks for the above. The starting point is that because you specified the requirements in writing as part of your offer then they will form a binding part of your agreement irrespective of whether they are included in the tenancy agreement or not. It is quite possible to include the conditions within the tenancy agreement as well and it is nonsense to suggest that they cannot be included - a tenancy agreement is fundamentally a contract between two parties and therefore can include any agreements parties have reached. It is just the tenancy agreement also happens to be regulated in large part by the Housing Act so it is a contract with special characteristics but it remains in essence a simple contract much like any other.there is a difficulty with regards ***** ***** not proceeding with the tenancy. Because you did not stipulate in your conditions that you wished them to be carried out before you moved in, it would be very dangerous to proceed on the basis that the conditions were conditional to you renting the property. My view would be that if the landlord disputed this, and you later requested your holding deposit back, the landlord may be successful in withholding at least a significant part of the holding deposit on the grounds that you changed your mind. You could of course argue that they failed to satisfy the conditions but because it was not specified that the conditions must be satisfied before you moved in, I cannot see a court would agree with that argument.My view would be that either you would need to consider agreeing with the landlord that you do not proceed and that your deposit is returned if the landlord is not prepared to honour the conditions you agreed or alternatively if you are not able to agree the above, you may need to consider taking the tenancy at putting the landlord on notice that you would expect the conditions to be satisfied before you move in and if they are not, you would propose to retain a contractor to carry out the repairs agreed yourself and remove the furniture to the landlords address and look to the landlord for the costs of those works reminding the landlord that the conditions form a binding condition of your agreement.If you move in a find the conditions have not been satisfied, the first step is to revert to the landlord referring the landlord to your above earlier communication and it is that she has five days to attend to the issues any which you will proceed as above. If you retain your and contractors, the contractors charges should be reasonable and in respect of the furniture, you would need to ensure the contractor delivers the furniture to the landlord or if they cannot make delivery, is stored safely for the landlord to collect as you will have a responsibility to insured furniture is not damaged.I hope the above is of assistance? If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click to rate my service to you today or just reply back to let me know if the above is helpful. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me I'd be very grateful
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience: LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
Joshua and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Joshua replied 1 year ago.
I hope the above is helpful? Can I help you with anything else or has the above answered your questions satisfactorily? If you could drop me a quick message to let me know I'd be very grateful.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

If you can't answer my previous question within the service charge I paid already - then please answer it within the one week free trial I signed up to when I paid for your reply.

Expert:  Joshua replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your post. Could you kindly clarify to which question you refer to please? I cannot see any further question other than your initial question above which I hope I have answered above? Have you sent something further which has not come through?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Joshua

I answered to you earlier but got no reply. I waited and waited and then tried to contact you again. It must have been lost in transaction. I don't get a copy of my questions via e-mail and they don't appear on this website straight way, I thought you had to review/approve them first. Right, I'll do it again though things changed again.

I spoke to the senior management of the Wimbledon Lauristons. They promised me to sort things out about the paperwork from my offer and refered me back to the progression team I spoke to earlier, they promised that this team should sort it out for me now. I waited for couple of hours for their reply, and I got more frustrated as I was told earlier that I'll have to keys unless I sign the agrement. Any delays will result in me looking for another place or living in the street. I spoke to Shelter while waiting and they advised to do a formal complain and research on redress scheme. I sent a formal complain to the senior management of the agency and requested their redress scheme details. That seemed to speed things up. I got a reply that the paper is being made right at that moment and got the paper BUT the paper is not what I requested, it's not the permission to join me, it's that my patner may join if he presents certain documents and passes employment reference checks. But my patner is not coming onthe work permit, he is coming on the spousevisa. The estate agency is saying they are not going to change that. I know the HomeOffice won't accept it. What they sent to me is not what I requested and discussed with them. I'm worried that I can't get the papers and therefore shouldn't sign the tenancy agrement, and therefore won't get into the new flat... but yet I can't look for a new flat either because I'm bound by the existing agreement.

The agency e-mailed to me that they believe that they have addressed and resolved things in my formal complain. I don't believe they did. After I insisted they sent me their complain procedure which says that if I'm unhappy then the agency can refer my complain to Ombudsman for Estate Agents. But this can only be done if the agency itself didn't resolve my problem within the 8 weeks since my complain. And I don't have 8 weeks, the move in date is this Monday.

I sent a formal complain to the agency today and got a response. I also replied that I'm not happy with the response and not all points of my complain have been dealt with. The senior managment believes they have dealt with it, I believe they didn't.

Do I have to wait for 8 weeks as per agency's complains procedure or can I escalate things further to get it resolved quicker? I either need the papers done or a way out of the agreement. I believe that once I sign the tenancy I won't stand a chance against this agency without a lowyer. All I need is a flat, and I had other options where I was promised the same deal though more expensive. I still have time to contact other agencies but I need this resolved quick. Can I write to Ombudsman myself?

Expert:  Joshua replied 1 year ago.
I am really sorry. I received no message. I sincerely ***** ***** the inconvenience. I am reading your post now and will reply in a few minutes...
Expert:  Joshua replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the above. Could you tell me a bit more about your spouse's involvement with the property. You mentioned various repairs that you wanted undertaken but I cannot see that there is mention of your spouse before. I assume you are named as sole tenant on the tenancy agreement but you may wish (or will definately wish?) your spouse to join you in living at the property in due course? If this is the case did you agree with the agent that your spouse could live with you at the property as a condition of your tenancy? If s could you tell me exactly what was agreed?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you very much for your reply, you are the best person I spoke to today :) The repairs are not important to me though I found the fact that they can't be done or at least a date-by annoying. The main reason i have to move is the fact that I live in a shared property at the moment. I have a daughter from the previous patner. I'm planning to get married in summer and wish for my patner to join me in the UK. In order to apply for my patner's spouse visa later, and I discussed that with the solicitors already, I'll require a "permission to join" from my landlord. The flat also needs to meet certain criteria, i.e. the rooms sizes have to be more than 50 square feet. I discussed that in person and via e-mail prior to making my offer. Both documents, "permission to join" and "property description with rooms dimensions" were in my offer. I managed to get "property description with rooms' dimensions" after 2 weeks fight as for "permission to join" the agent told me I'll have to add my patner, future spouse, to tenancy agreement. For that reason they ran reference checks on my patner without even telling me in advance. But then, today, they told that my patner can't be added to the tenancy agreement. At first they suggested nothing else instead. After a formal complain they sent me a document which is not a tenancy agreement, not a permission to join as we discussed, but permission to join if "he gets a visa, if HMRC is happy, if he passes reference checks". This will not do for the HomeOffice, the bit about reference checks make this document useless. The agency says that they are not going to let my patner into the flat without adding him to tenancy agreement, and they won't add him to tenancy agreement if he doesn't do employment reference checks. But my patner won't have a job as soon as he arrives. I'd like to take things further and either get the paper or cancel the deal so I can get another place without ending up in the street or in court. Can I take my complain further, to Ombudsman for Estate Agents even though I didn't allow the agency to deal with my formal complain for 8 weeks as per their complain procedure. Can I escalate things further to get the issue resolved without ending up in the street?

Expert:  Joshua replied 1 year ago.
Thank you very much for the above. Did you make as a condition of your offer for the property that your partner could live in the flat with you - i.e. that you would only be interested in the property if your partner could live there with you?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

The condition on the property was, for the paperwork only, - "permission to join for the patner", "property description document with rooms dimentions". I did explain via e-mail, prior making an offer and paying deposit, that the main reason for moving is so my patner can join me. I got a confirmation via e-mail as well, that this paperwork can be done.

Expert:  Joshua replied 1 year ago.
Many thanks. There are two main issues here: the first is that unless the tenancy agreement specifically prohibits anyone other than you living at the property then you can invite your partner to live with you at the property without the landlords permission and they cannot stop your partner living in the property as an occupier. Many tenancy agreements do include provisions prohibiting sharing occupation though so it may well be that this one does too.However there is no reason the landlord cannot simply agree that your partner can live in the property as a "permitted occupant". There is no legal reason why your partner has to be a party to the tenancy agreement. the agents are making a mountain out of a molehill. All that is required if there is a restriction in the tenancy agreement as above is that the agents agree that your partner is a permitted occupant.Based on what you say above you made the requirement that your partner joins you to live in the property a central condition of agreeing the tenancy. I therefore suggest you consider repying to the agent that you refer to your above email making the requirement that your partner is able to live with you at the property a principal condition of your offer and that that condition is of the essence of the agreement. Your partner will not pass credit checks and there is no requirement naughty wish for him to be added to the tenancy agreement as a joint tenant with you. What you require is that the landlord gives permission for your partner to occupy the property as a committed occupier and you require confirmation by close of business tomorrow that your partner is a permitted occupier failing which you will consider that the agents have repudiated the agreement and will require a full refund of your holding deposit on this basis as provided for by the guidance issued by the office of fair trading in relation to the unfair terms in consumer contracts regulations.you may go on to say that you consider the entire way in which the agents have dealt with the matter to lack knowledge and professionalism and that you will be considering a complaint to the property ombudsman redress scheme unless they immediately comply with your above request and the original conditions you agreed prior to paying a deposit.If they continue to prevaricate or refuse, on the basis of the wording you refer to above that you agreed with the agents before deposit, it is my view that you can show that the agents have failed to comply with your condition and that condition was central to your agreement and failure to comply amounts to repudiation of the contract. If the agents refuse to return your deposit, you may have to complaint to the property ombudsman redress scheme and is not sat issue proceedings in the County Court to recover it and though the above is my view, litigation is never a certainty and there in my view you would have a good chance of recovering your deposit, they can be no guarantee that this would be the outcome.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you very much for your reply. You made my day today. I replied to the agents again, forwarded all the e-mails with initial agreements and the offer and I now feel that I reached some piecefull state of mind. Thank you again. I want to be a lowyer too :)

Expert:  Joshua replied 1 year ago.
A pleasure. I hope you are able to reach an amicable settlement with them. Agents can be very frustrating to deal with sometimes. If they do not play ball you will likely need to consider a robust approach with them such as they above or they are unlikely to concede.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you very-very much. You literally saved me. I only allowed the agency to re-do the paper until midday today and when they didn't reply by midday I demanded a refund saying that I'll complain to property ombudsman if they don't do it. I did explain the difference between what they gave me and what I requested, forwarded all e-mails and documents to show that they promised me a different document at the beginning and that I discussed it with them.

They wrote back to me that they did everything I asked them for and that my only complain is the wording of the letter, and also that I'm trying to get them into some sort of problems with immigration services - not sure how these two can be in one paragraph. But even though I'm totally wrong they'll do a full refund including the costs of reference checks. I don't remember when I was this happy last time. Thank you very much, I wouldn't have done it without you.

The document I asked for is on the gov.uk website and was confirmed by the immigration lowyers I saw earlier this year. The agents either didn't know that or couldn't explain that to the landlady. Whatever went wrong on their side it doesn't matter now. You saved my deposit. Thank you. You also saved me from going into this tenancy agreement. Shelter and CAB told me that I need to sign it and then try to persuade the agency to give me the paper... it would have been much more difficult to get out of the 2 years contract then to return my deposit. And I wouldn't have tried to stand up for myself without you.

I still have 2 weeks, I'll find another flat.

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