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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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As a landlord we let our flat out via a managing agent, who

Customer Question

As a landlord we let our flat out via a managing agent, who sold their services very well. Time tells all.
We are now in a position where we suspect some issues
Firstly, we don't believe they have protected the tenants deposit as their contract to the tenants says they will. I tried speaking to DPS (the scheme they say they use) but they cannot help me due to data protection, they advise to see the tenants. I have been trying to get the agents to evidence the scheme but no luck so far.
In addition i don't believe the agency is a ltd company. Our contract with the agency was done via one agency name and the tenants have a contract with another name. I know there is a father-daughter relationship between the two names however i don't know whether that detail (two company names) is a source of other problems. I cannot find anything at companies house about either names, nor details of directors. None of their letterheads list any information like this either. No company numbers etc,.
It appears there is very little a landlord can do about an agent. The landlord is legally responsible for protecting the deposits. And if the agents says they have, then what are we supposed to do. I know the tenants have paid the deposit. I know that they have in fact paid a whole year upfront. Despite telling us they would pay us that year upfront they haven't and we have had dribs and drabs. This promise of year up front wasn't written down, but by default are they allowed to withhold that money?
So my issues are:
- What recourse do we las landlords have against an agency that is not protecting deposits?
- Can an agency withheld a years rent despite verbally agreeing to pass that on?
- Can an agency operate with no legal structure behind it? Shouldn't they be displaying this information?
We have been told the father has a CCJ against him. We are aware of other landlords not being paid. The whole thing is looking rather dodgy.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 1 year ago.
Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you.
Have you tried checking online to see if it's protected please?
Alex
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience: Solicitor with 5+ years experience
Ash and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I didn't mean to do that (the phone offer). Is there any way i can cancel that as i'm not by a phone or need the info as urgent as that. I assumed it mean accept the conversion here.In answer to the question. The DPS won't be able to confirm because i have no IDs or details. They suggest i go to the tenants to see if they have registration info but i'd rather not go to them just yet as i would like to understand the position better. The agency keep saying they will send me the details but nothing yet. Other landlords with them have said they don't register the deposit. So i am running under the assumption it is not registered and wanting to know what my options are. Or if it isn't registered and i try to get them to register i have no idea what the repercussions are for them in order have some sort of urgency?
Expert:  Ash replied 1 year ago.
You don't need the certificate number, you can search here
https://www.tds.gb.com/is-my-deposit-protected.html
Click on can't find my certificate number. Then you can enter the details and it will do a search. Then you will know if it's been protected. But if it hasn't you are liable and you would need to sue the agents if you are sued.nthe tenants could sue you for x3 the value of the deposit.
Can j clairfy anything for you about this today please ?
Alex
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Alex,There are two tenants, both middle eastern surnames. I cannot find anything on the details i have on the tenancy agreement, but mistakes are easily made and i don't know who paid the deposit. Also if they may not have registered the whole amount either. So that service cannot find anything but it's 100% proof that it isn't registered.If it hasn't been registered then what can i do to put the pressure on them to register it now. They have the deposit money (whether they've spent it or not i have no idea). But what options are available to me. Do I threaten to sue them now? I can certainly complain at the ombudsman. But have they broken any laws? I have a feeling they'll just keep the talking and delaying tactic going. So i need something concrete!Also the other question was in the case where they have been paid upfront for a year. They verbally agreed to pay us upfront. But they haven't. At the same time they *have* paid us enough to cover up to now (so they're not technically in arrears with us) what's the legal position with that money? I think legally it's the tenants still but is there anything we can do to force them to carry out their verbal agreement?thanks
Paul
Expert:  Ash replied 1 year ago.
You need to write and set out your losses and request they protect it or pay you back within 14 days or say you will go to Court within 14 days. You should make sure you send this signed delivery and keep a copy.
If they do not then you can issue proceedings in the County Court. You can either do this online at: www.moneyclaim.gov.uk or by completing form N1 http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/n001-eng.pdf and take it to your local County Court.
The Court will then issue a claim which a copy will be sent to the Defendant who will have a limited time to defend it, if not you can enter Judgment and enforce.
If the claim is for £10,000 or less it will be a small claim so you will not need legal representation. Over this value you would need representation for trial.
Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I mentioned originally that I cannot find a Ltd company behind the agency. In the case of making a claim, who am i claiming against? Can i name actual people on it? I know that the father ran one agency and his daughter runs this one. But as far as i can tell it's just some brand name - there are no registration details that i have been able to locate. If this isn't a Ltd company then is it an 'Ordinary Business' meaning that the individuals are responsible?
Expert:  Ash replied 1 year ago.
You can name the people. If it's a company you can wand the claim later. If it's not Ltd then you can name individuals.
Does that help?
Alex
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
"wand the claim later" - not sure if that's a technical phrase or typing too quick?!That's helping, how could i go about finding whether this company is registered or not? I know it's not limited (unless there's a company behind it). I can't find anything on companies house. Is there someone i can call?As i mentioned before the original question was asking about whether they can withhold advance rent - would it be possible to review that now?
Expert:  Ash replied 1 year ago.
Typing too quick! If it's a company then you can amend your claim later.
They can't with hold advance rent - no
Alex
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Great, thanks.With the advance rent, under what law can they not hold it? If i am to point this out to them i would ideally need to be able to say under XYZ it states you cannot do this?(almost done with this!)thanks
Expert:  Ash replied 1 year ago.
It's contact law, unless it says in the contract they can, then they can not.
Alex
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The written contract makes no mention of rent in advance, it just states the monthly amount. The rent upfront was a verbal agreement after that contract (based on a lack of background on the tenants - they're students). So the agency got deposit+the years rent advance. They are holding that. There was a verbal agreement to pass that on. The rent has been passed on in dribs and drabs but there are still 3 months outstanding.So according to the written contract the agents are not in arrears with us. I suspect there's not a lot we can do about that?The question was less about the contract and more about whether an agent can hold advanced payments made by the tenants from the landlords.thanks
Expert:  Ash replied 1 year ago.
Well they should be passing the payments to you. They are not permitted to hold them, they are the landlords
Alex
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
That sounds like a good angle, is there a law or something backing that up that i would be able to quote to them? They have explicitly said the payments are not ours and it's safer for them to retain them.
Expert:  Ash replied 1 year ago.
It's a matter of contract laws. The payments are not theirs!
Alex
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Okay, last clarification. Is there part of contract law i can quote for this case?
Expert:  Ash replied 1 year ago.
They are saying you are not entitled to the payment. They need to prove you are not.
Alex

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