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propertylawyer
propertylawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 270
Experience:  Property Solicitor with expertise in commercial and residential property transactions.
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Our London flat has been in the hands of a holiday letting

Resolved Question:

Our London flat has been in the hands of a holiday letting agency. Recently tenants moved out early because of scaffolding on the building. The agency, in possession of rent owing to us, is withholding not just monies representing the period the tenants were no longer in our flat (this we do not contest) but monies representing rent for the remainder of the original rental period for the new flat to which the tenants were moved. Less consequentially the agent has 'charged' us for the taxi fare to take the tenants to the alternative flat and a 'meet and greet' fee for the agents to meet them at that flat.
We have an email trail that shows unequivocally that we alerted the agency to the possibility of scaffolding occurring during the tenancy in question prior to its commencing, letting them know specifically that we had no information as to the actual timing or duration of the works and prompting them to let the prospective tenants know the situation. Incidentally, the agency throughout the entire period has been aware that we have been living in Sydney.
Is there anything we can do?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  propertylawyer replied 9 months ago.

It depends on the terms of the agency agreement but on the face of it charging you a taxi fare and a meet and greet fee seems unreasonable. Also, did the tenancy agreement allow the tenant to terminate on the grounds of scaffolding being erected?

I can take a look at the agency agreement if you wish.

Normally a tenant can only terminate if there is a break clause or give notice to vacate on the expiry date. If the tenant leaves during the term it is liable to pay rent to the landlord. The agent, again depends on the agency agreement, is not entitled to hold monies due to you and make any deductions from rental income to cover expenses unless specifically stated in the agreement.

You, in the first instance, should formally write to the agent stating that the withholding / deducting expenses is in breach of the agreement (of course check this first to be totally sure) and state the amount that is due to you and that the sum must be paid within 21 days or you will refer the matter to the small claims court which will potentially result in them paying any court fees incurred by you and an additional sum equal to 8% interest which you are entitled to claim. Letter should be sent recorded delivery and regular post, you can follow it up by email or fax if you wish.

If you get no reply then go to moneyclaimonline.com to bring an action against the agent. It is a very straightforward service to use.

Any questions or queries in relation to my reply? Happy to assist further.

I can review documents as an additional service.

Please can I kindly request that you accept /positive rate my reply otherwise the website will not pay me for assisting you today.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I'm not sure that I have succeeded in making the issues clear to you. We are not objecting to the tenant moving out after scaffolding was erected and our receiving no further rent. We were prepared to waive that amount despite the legal agreement giving us the right to demand it. The agreement which makes no mention of scaffolding, requires that we be given two weeks' notice of the tenants' termination and that did not occur. What we object to is the agent having withheld rental monies owing to us (for the period the tenants were in our flat) to cover all costs associated with the tenants moving to another flat, including the cost of their rental on that flat for the remainder of the time they had originally undertaken to rent ours. This would seem to be a huge step by the agency beyond mere non-compliance with the terms of the agreement. Part of my query is whether we have recourse to any action beyond that pursuant on the agent failing to abide by the terms of the agreement.
Expert:  propertylawyer replied 9 months ago.

As mentioned above, the agent cannot withhold rent, make deductions unless it has the ability to do do under the terms of the agency agreement. If there is a breach of contract then you have a potential claim.

There is only a potential action for breach of contract, nothing else.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
At the moment just working out what to do from here but will do the rating
Expert:  propertylawyer replied 9 months ago.

Many thanks.

Please do come back to me if you need further assistance.

All the best.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
We have located online the agreement form that was emailed to us by Home from Home and its terms accord with those suggested in your reply. However we cannot locate any signed document and cannot now recall whether or when anything was actually signed. In this situation is there anything we can do or do we just have to accept the agency retaining the monies owing to us?
Expert:  propertylawyer replied 9 months ago.

It would likely be implied that the agreement between you and the agent would be on those terms even if not actually signed. The fact they emailed it to you and usually deal with customers on those terms should be sufficient to imply this.

Would you like me to review and comment on the agreement.? I can do so as an additional service. I generally ask for $35 to review a document. If so, I will send to you a premium service offer for you to accept.

Any further questions or queries? I am happy to assist further. Please can I kindly request that you accept /positive rate my reply otherwise the website will not pay me for assisting you. Many thanks.

propertylawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 270
Experience: Property Solicitor with expertise in commercial and residential property transactions.
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