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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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My sister found a london rental property last week which she

Customer Question

My sister found a london rental property last week which she liked. She signed the contract on wednesday last week with a moving date of the 13th of December. She also wired the tenancy deposit of £5k. On sunday she went to show me the property and together we realised that in actual fact the location was not good at all as it would take her an hour to drop off the kids and get to work instead of the 20 mns the estate agent told her. She straight away called the agent and left him a message saying that she no longer wanted to house. She finally got an answer today saying that she would probably loose her whole deposit and incur charges. Furthermore the landlord insisted that a new tenancy agreement be signed reflecting my sister's dog and a few other changes before moving in. She has not yet signed this yet the agent said that if she doesn't then the original one reverts.
Is there anything she can do?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Alex Watts : Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.
Alex Watts : For now please let me know if the landlord has signed the contract ?
Customer :

not sure, probably not as soon after she signed the agent said a new one had to be drafted to incorporate some changes.

Alex Watts : Ok. If it's not been signed by the landlord she is ok.
Alex Watts : If it has been signed she is bound.
Customer :

she signed a docusign tenancy agreement over the internet/email. she never got a hardcopy of it as like i said the agent then said a new agreement needed to be drafted. Apparently the landlord name on the original agreement was different on the new tenancy agreement. looks like originally it was a man and then a woman's name.

Alex Watts : If there are going to be changes I suspect it has not been signed
Alex Watts : Ok. Then it's not the final version then she can get out of it.
Alex Watts : Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
Customer :

when she told them she had not signed the revised version they replied that it did not matter as she had signed the original one.

Customer :

i imagine that if the landlord had not signed the original or new tenancy agreement by sunday which is when she told the agent she no longer wanted the house the first thing they did on monday was to ask the landlord to sign it!!

Customer :

btw this is a UK property in london.

Alex Watts : Makes no difference if they want to change it, that is a new contract.
Alex Watts : It makes no difference whether or not the property is in London or rest of England!
Customer :

so to recap last wednesday she signed a contract via docusign and on thursday they sent her a new one via docusign which she has not signed. So you are saying that because she did not sign the new contract she is not bound? regardless of wether the landlord signed it or not? and that they should refund her 5k deposit?

Alex Watts : Yes.
Alex Watts : Does that clarify the position for you?
Customer :

sounds great but accordinng to them she is bound

Alex Watts : She is not,
Alex Watts : They would say that, they are not lawyers.
Alex Watts : In any event they can not incorporate further terms to a signed contract
Alex Watts : does that help?
Customer :

ok so what should she tell them in a sentence?

Customer :

so are you saying that the fact that they sent her a new contract nullifies the one she signed and that the landlord may have signed?

Customer :

btw, they have only told her she is bound over the phone nothing in writing. Apparently they will send her an email detailing all the rights they have to charge her and that if she does not occupy she is still bound without occupation.

Alex Watts : Yes the fact there is a new contract releases from the old one,
Alex Watts : Does that help?
Customer :

thanks, ***** ***** told her to go to the agent and ask to see the original tenancy agreement to check if the landlord signed it as if he didn't she would not be bound by it. If he did then i told her to argue that the revised contract containing new clauses about the dog which she has not signed invalidate the first one.

Alex Watts :

Great. Can I clarify anything else for you?

Customer : Just went to estate agent . They gave her the original copy which had the name of only one landlord and which she signed. They also gave her another copy which now had two landlords (the old one and a new one) which was signed on behalf of landlord by estate agent employee and witnessed by another employee. They say that as it was only adding a second landlord it does not constitute a new contract and therefore she is still bound!
Customer : They say she is liable for rent until they find a new tenant which they don't how long it could take.
Alex Watts :

They can't add a new LAndlord.

Alex Watts :

If its a new contract then its a new contract and she simply can not be bound.

Alex Watts :

They are not lawyers, they are wrong

Alex Watts :

Does that help?

Customer : Apparently it is husband and wife so in the new one which the agent signed they added the wife's name. My sister did not sign it
Customer : They made no other change to the original contract except add the landlord's wife name .
Alex Watts :

Unless the original contract allows for amendments then they can NOT

Alex Watts :

Its a matter of contract law

Customer : so you are saying that by adding a new name I.e landlord it constitutes a new contract as they just can't add a new landlord.
Customer : And as she has not signed the one with two landlords she is not bound
Alex Watts :

Correct

Customer : You are very helpful . what should I look for in the contract that would stipulate the ability to make amendments? Does it have to specifically state make amendments insofar as landlords is concerned or can it be in general terms?
Alex Watts :

Yes I would certainly do that. No amendments can be made unless the contract allows for that provision

Customer : Ok so to be clear unless specific provision I.e add new landlord not just general provision to amend Ithey can't do so ?
Alex Watts :

Correct

Customer : Btw do both landlords have to sign or is one sufficient? Actually one landlord signed and the estate agent witnessed
Alex Watts :

One owner can sign, that is fine

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything else for you?

Alex Watts :

if not might I ask you to rate my answer so that I am credited for my time.

Customer :

Thank you. The latest is that they need to consult their legal team and will get back to her next week! this btw is one of the largest estate agents in the country.

Alex Watts :

Ok - well see what they say.

Alex Watts :

If I could ask you to rate my answer so I am credited for my time I would be grateful.

Alex Watts :

Thanks

Ash and other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi, can they come back and say that if she is not happy with the original landlord adding his wife as additional landlord in the amended tenancy agreement then they will revert back to original tenancy agreement which is only signed by one landlord (the husband) and which my wife signed and that way make her bound to the tenancy?
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
I think its too late now if they want to cancel or have cancelled the old one.
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Sorry not sure I follow..too late for who and in what way too late?
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
It is too late for them now.
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you, you say it is too late for them because by sending my sister the amended contract for her to sign they in effect cancelled the original one? As such they can't go back to the original tenancy agreement even if my sister does not agree to sign the amended agreement which now has two landlords ?
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
That is what I am saying yes.
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

apparently the landlord wants to pursue this and will be seeking legal advice. Is there anything you can think of that could bind my sister to this tenancy agreement?

My worry is that the move in date was last week end and that they are trying to delay things as much as possible now but at the same time making her liable for the rent and of course they hold her 6 weeks deposit.

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Nothing else I can really add. Good luck with this.
Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

In your opinion and based on what i have told you do you believe it is worth it to hire a solicitor in order to highlight the reasons why my sister is not bound to the contract any more? further more will it be a straight forward case for the lawyer?

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
No, the cost would be too much. Any claim for under £10,000 is a small claim and costs are not recoverable.
Alex