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Remus2004
Remus2004, Barrister
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 69370
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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I am a landlord and rented my flat 7 months ago via a lettings

Customer Question

I am a landlord and rented my flat 7 months ago via a lettings agency. I signed an agreement for them to manage the letting for the first 6 months because I am new to being a landlord. Their service has been poor so I wrote to them informing them that I no longer wished to use thier services at the end of the tenancy (8/2/14). There was no notice period articulated in the management agreement, simply a requirement to advise them of termination before the start of a new tenancy. The lettings agency subsequently advised me that the tenant had renewed the lease for another 6 months and therefore I had not given them enough notice to terminate our agreement. They had not requested my permission to renew the tenancy. I have tried to gain access to the tenant via phone but the number has been changed and the lettings agency will not provide me with the telephone number. They are also not now responding to telephone calls and have failed to pay this months rent into my account. I do not want to risk alienating the tenant, who has not, as far as I know, done anything wrong, but do now need some advice about my next steps. Can you help please? Morwenna
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

How much do they owe you please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

One months rent is £650 less their fee which means I receive would usually £597. However, the issue here is that they did not ask me first before renewing the tenancy - surely this represents a breach of the landlord and tenant act somewhere? When they realised that I was not happy about the renewal going ahead without my permission, they offered to reduce the management fee however I did not want to agree to anything until I had first met the tenant and agreed a potential way forward with the agent. I would have considered simply extending the management arrangement for another 6 months had they not been so difficult about meeting up with the tenant.

Expert:  Remus2004 replied 2 years ago.
Is the new tenant under the new tenancy a completely different one to the original one?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

It is the same tenant but I am told that they have signed a new tenancy agreement. I have requested a copy but have not received anything from the agent yet.

Expert:  Remus2004 replied 2 years ago.
Thank you.

If it is the same tenant, you cannot use the argument that you wanted to approve the tenant.

If the tenant did not sign a new tenancy agreement, but just didn't move, you will usually be responsible for the agent's fee until the tenant leaves.

If this was a new tenant altogether, you would be at liberty not to pay the agent's fee if you had already given sufficient notice that you are terminating the contract and you are told them that you did not want another tenant or to continue with their agency

Most agency contracts allow for the agent's fee to continue during renewal periods provided it was clearly stated in the paperwork that the fee would continue and provided they are actually doing something for it.

There is a whole load of case law on this, most of which revolves around a London agent called Foxton's. They would appear to be extremely litigious.

If they have failed to pay this rent into your account, you could possibly argue breach of contract, which may entitle you to bring the contract to an end, but it could end up in court . If they paid you the rent immediately.

I would suggest that you try to stay out of court, provided they pay you your rent immediately. You need to give notice that you will be terminating the contract as soon as this tenant leaves and you do not ask another tenant because you will be moving agents because you're not happy with this one. You may find that their service improves faced with losing a landlord

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.

Jo
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Jo


 


Thank you for the information however, I think you have missed some of the issues here. The management contract allows for termination at the end of the tenancy, which in this case was 6 months. I believe that the agent, on receiving notice from me, signed up the tenant again without asking me thinking they would be able to secure another 6 months management fee by default rahter than by desire and therefore are fraudulent in their actions. In the management contract it clearly states that it has to be renewed and it also states that they charge a fee for renewal. Your response seems to suggest that if it is not a new tenant the management has to continue which is not the case.


 


I have no desire to go to court but fully intend to pursue this with the agent hence my questions to you - I am no expert but believe that they have breached their contract and I have no desire to continue working with them. I am, however, quite happy for the tenant to remain in the property as long as I receive the rent.


 


At the moment the agent will not respond to calls and has not paid the rent so all I want to know is what are my rights so that I can detail those in a letter to the agent and resolve matters to my satisfaction.


 


Many thanks


Morwenna

Expert:  Remus2004 replied 2 years ago.
Yes, I understand that. However, I would be very surprised if there was not a provision whereby if the tenant stays on, the agent is still entitled to their costs in respect of any tenants that they introduced.

Of course, the agent may have signed up the tenant deliberately, however, he is likely to still be eligible for his fee even if you decided to take over the management yourself.

You would need to check the contract in minute detail to see whether that is the case. If it was not the case, every landlord in the country would simply terminate the agents contract at the end of 12 months. Once they had a good tenant.

If there is no provision for the agent to be paid for any tenant "introduced" by them, then I would not pay anything in respect of the replacement tenancy, even though it is with the same tenant. You are going to need to check the agreement with the agent, word by word.

Once you have that, you are then in a position to take the agent to task over the next period of commission. However, you don't need to do any of that in order to tell the agent that unless he lets you have the rent, or take him to court

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