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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10915
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Hi XXXXX 2013 I agreed to let a flat in my property

Customer Question

Hi XXXXX 2013 I agreed to let a flat in my property (I live in main house above 1 bed flat) through a local letting agent, which is part of a group with head office out of this area. I have let this flat previously, usually in winter as take visitors or students during summer months. I agreed tenant find service with the agents who came back to me within days to say a prospective tenants had been let down on one of their other properties and the tenants, A couple, needed somewhere urgently and would I consider them as they were a working couple with good references. I agreed a viewing and confirmed that I would be able to do a 6 month shorthold tenancy agreement which started on 14 December. I provided my own tenancy agreement filled out with 6 months ending in june and took this into the agents local office. I was told that one of the tenants was moving from Basingstoke and as they had an office there the tenant went to that office to sign the document which had been scanned and sent. Approx 2 months ago I had occasion to speak to tenants, who were paying rent okay, regarding their plans after 6 months, only to be told that their tenancy was for 12 months not 6. I checked the agreement that had been emailed, back to me, signed by both tenants, to find that my handwritten date of 6 months had been crossed out as had the end date and substituted with 12 months, clearly in different handwriting. I went immediately to local agents, and also phoned the head office to complain as I believe alteration was a fraudulent act. The tenant informed me that as she wanted a 12 month the agent in the Basingstoke branch said it could be altered as the landlady (which is me) had been contacted and agreed. This is not true I was never contacted about extending tenancy, as I already had my property including flat for sale and also the flat was with a holiday agency for summer letting. I have had to pay out for cancelling a holiday booking and also breach of my agreement not to take holiday visitors for remainder of year, as tenants not willing to move before, as they believe 12 months tenancy. The local agents have agreed the alteration was made and inform me in a tenant find agreement the term is usually 6 months. I contacted the head office regarding my complaint but have heard nothing more. I would like to claim damages for money spent and also the difference between current rent and potential holiday bookings. Should I contact the property letting ombudsman or can I take action in the small claims court. I have phoned a local solicitor who states they cannot act as they may do work with this agent. Sorry this is such a long but needed to get the detail down.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.

Alex Watts :

Hello my name is Alex and I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply as this is not an ‘on demand’ live service, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return. There is no need to wait here, you will get an email when I reply.

Alex Watts :

In short its for 12 months and you wanted 6? Was it changed AFTER you had signed it please?

JACUSTOMER-6zxhganr- : The tenancy agreement was filled out by me for 6 months and signed by me so it was the scanned version that was altered in the Basingstoke office. I had taken original to the local letting agent in Torquay earlier that day. After it was altered in Basingstoke it was scanned again and sent to second tenant who was already in Torquay. No permission was given by me to alter the agreement.
Alex Watts : Do you know who changed it whether it was the agent or the tenant that changed it?
JACUSTOMER-6zxhganr- : It was the agent who changed the date in front of the tenant. He phoned someone in the administration team in head office who gave the okay for this.
JACUSTOMER-6zxhganr- : My tenant has provided me with a letter stating this is what happened.
JACUSTOMER-6zxhganr- : The agent altered the date in front of the tenant, who has given me written confirmation of this.
Alex Watts : Ok. What is it you want to achieve please?
JACUSTOMER-6zxhganr- : I want to know if I can claim losses from letting agent as have paid out already for cancelling a holiday booking and also distress at being placed with a tenant that may not agree to move before December which may also jeopardise a potential sale of the property as now have tenants until December which was not the agreement when I placed the flat with the agents.
Alex Watts : What would your losses be? I assume you didn't actually need to cancel your holiday as you could have still gone?
JACUSTOMER-6zxhganr- : I think you misunderstand me the flat was only to be let for 6 months from Dec to June , thereafter I had holiday makers booked in, to the flat so had to cancel the booking and pay holiday letting agent which advertises the flat a termination fee as the intention was to summer let the flat. My losses would be the usual holiday rental tariffs during high season, particularly July and August. The point is the agent acted dishonestly and because of this I have had to let other people down and want to know if I have a case against the letting agent to claim for such losses.
Alex Watts : How much have you lost In income? How much will you get in rental income?
JACUSTOMER-6zxhganr- : Rental income is £450 per month Holliday let for July / August is £400 per week.
Alex Watts : How much are your losses in total? Bearing in mind it would be actual bookings not theioretical.
JACUSTOMER-6zxhganr- : £500 in total so far. However I would like some compensation for the fact this has caused great worry and distress, as won't be able to sell my house with a sitting tenant. And the agents acted fraudulently.
Alex Watts : You need to write and set out your losses and request a refund 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.
Alex Watts : If they do not refund you 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.
Alex Watts : 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.
Alex Watts : If the matter is defended it will be set down for a trial. If the claim is for £10,000 or less it will be a small claim and you will not need representation.
Alex Watts : Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
JACUSTOMER-6zxhganr- : That is very helpful but should like to know exactly who I make the claim against. This is a national chain, of estate agents/ letting agents. My agreement was with the local office in Torquay but the administration and finances are dealt with, I believe in their head office in Colchester. The actual tenancy agreement was altered in the Basingstoke branch.
Alex Watts : You need to sue the head office address.
Alex Watts : Does that help?
JACUSTOMER-6zxhganr- : Just one more thing, if I need to make a claim, can I do it in my local county court.
Alex Watts : Yes that's fine.
Alex Watts : If this answers your question could I invite you leave feedback on my service which I hope has been excellent today, if you need more information or help then please click reply.Please remember that I am always happy to help if you have future questions, even if I am in Court I can normally respond within a few hours. For future information, please start them with ‘For Alex W’.Please bookmark my profile if you wish for future help: http://www.justanswer.co.uk/law/expert-alexwatts/
Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

JACUSTOMER-6zxhganr- : Thanks for your help so far but do I have to name an individual on my claim or is it sufficient to name the company.

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