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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71057
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hi, As a landloard, does my letting agent have an obligation

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Hi, As a landloard, does my letting agent have an obligation to advise me of the best option when entering into a contract with a tenant? The situation I have is that: I advertised my house for rental through an agency. They found me two tenants who indicated that they wanted the house for at least two years while saving for a deposit. I mentioned to the letting agent that I was keen on this as it would mean not having to pay a finders fee for two years. As such I instructed the agent to move forward and process the deal. There was no discussion about the best options and they put through a one year deal with an option to renew. The one year period has recently passed and the letting agent has taken a very sizable renewal fee. Essentially a fee for changing the dates on a contract template (20 mins work for £800. Nice work if you can get it). I was never told about their being any type of renewal fee, even during our conversations about how eager I was to avoid one. I'm sure they would argue, quite correctly that I should have read the contract in detail before signing - I can't disagree with this. However my question is: Do they have a responsibility, as a professional industry expert to ensure that I, as an amateur landlord, fully understand what I am signing? And secondly is there any burden of responsibility on them to have advised at the time of starting the contract that if both parties were keen for a contract of 2 years, that it would have been better and cheaper for us to set it up as a 2 year term (potentially with some kind of break clause included)? Thanks, Andy

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

If there is no mention of renewal fee, on what basis are they charging £800?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Sorry, I should have been clearer with that point. The renewal fee is included as a line item within the contract. However it was just never mentioned in any conversation or correspondance we had. So I was asking if this is the case , do I have a case at all? Is there a responsibility on them to ensure I was fully aware of all fees and charges and not simply say I should have read the small print ? Then also if I had a tenant that wanted to stay for two years, is there any responsibility on the letting agent to advise both the tenant and I that a two year term contract (probably with a break clause) would have been a better/cheaper option?

If you sign an agreement then you are deemed to be aware of and consent to all of its terms unfortunately.

However the agent is still under a duty not to misrepresent and acting your best interest and your best interest is not lining their own pockets.

The agent is not under any duty to say that two-year contract would be an option unless you had specifically said to the agent that you would be happy for two years because general custom and practice is that assured short hold tenancies are six months or two years although there is no reason why they cannot be much longer.

Legally, I do not think you have a good reason to challenge this sadly other than telling the agent that if they insist on charging this, you are going to vote with your feet and will not be renewing the contract with them at the end of two years.

Of course, if the agent completely misrepresented this and presented the contract to you as something completely different, you then have a potential claim under the Misrepresentation Act

I'm very sorry if this is bad news.

Can I clarify anything for you?

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