2017 has been a bad start for 1 Landlord in Hounslow that has been in touch with us this week. A landlord who owns a 2 bed flat in Hounslow has been having her apartment managed by a Letting agent which for legal reasons I cannot mention and has failed her. She mentioned to us that she has not been getting paid regularly and is now owed £15,000. (WOW!!! £15,000 owed – I mean it shocks me to think that the Letting Agent thinks they can get away with this). But looks like there are just some Letting agents out there that think they are above the law
The landlord goes on to tell me that she has not signed a contract for years and does not know who’s in her apartment currently. The Letting agent every now and then transfers approx. £850 one month then nothing for another couple of month and another £850 or so another month.
Its also come to light the tenant is paying the Letting agent £1200 per calendar month on time every month – and even showed us bank statement to prove this.
So why on earth will the Letting agent not just transfer the rent to the landlord once received?
Its shocking to think that some people think they have the right to withhold monies not belonging to them – I mean surely that no different than committing a crime such as theft or even fraud.
The worst is yet to come – the deposit is NOT protected!!!!! – even though the agent said they did. And when the landlord asked for the deposit to be paid to her so she can either return to the tenant or protect it – the letting agents reply was – If you want your deposit back, you must sign an agreement with us again to allow us to still manage your property. – The cheek of it… they even went on to say that the tenant belongs to them and she still has to pay their fee.
Well as you can imagine this landlord was worried and panicked as she felt she was compromised and more importantly her investment, her flat, an asset that is worth nearly £300,000 was trapped in this Lettings agents greed.
So here I will explain what we advised the landlord who is now our client. And felt to write this article as I’m sure there are many landlord out there in a similar position.
So please share this with anyone you know who’s a landlords that in a similar position, it will be a great help
What to do if your Letting Agent Lets you Down?
You instruct an Letting agent mainly because you have a full time job to commit to and therefore wont have the time to find and tenant or even manage a tenant. Or simply because your new to the Letting game and don’t have the confidence just yet to negotiate or be stern with your tenant.
I want you to remember some crucial and the most important aspect of being a landlord and employing a Letting Agent.
YOU THE LANDLORD is the one in charge!!
You’re the legal owner of your property!!
You have the right to change Letting agents!!
you have the right to choose who becomes a tenant in you property!!
If your Letting agent fails you or breaches their agreement with you or withholds money from you – You have the right to contact your tenant and request them to pay you direct!!
<p<You are the one who has paid for a service and damn right you should expect the best service
The Law as it applies to Letting Agencies
Legally, the letting agent is bound by the same laws as any business who agrees to undertake a job for you – they must carry out any work for you with reasonable skill and care. If they don’t, you are entitled to claim reasonable compensation.
For example In the case of not getting a guarantor for a tenant if their income was below the affordability criteria, if that tenant then defaulted on their rent you would be legally entitled to claim any loss of income that was directly caused through the letting agent’s lack of attention to detail and due diligence. (In this case this is why in depth Referencing checks are important). So, effectively you would be entitled to the months of lost rent, plus any associated legal fees for eviction or legal action you’ve had to take.
Is your Letting Agent a member of a redress scheme/Association?
If you have chosen wisely then the answer to this question is Yes.
You may be able to take action against them through grievance procedures set out by their trade association. This can be more time efficient and less expensive than going to court. In many cases the Redress scheme or Association they are apart of can be very persuasive in getting the agent to eventually do the right thing. For more information you can visit the website for the Property Ombudsman .
It’s also worth contacting the Estate Agents Ombudsman Scheme if the letting agent is a member of the scheme, and getting advice from them about how to proceed. If the letting agent is a member of the ombudsman scheme, again they will have signed up to a code of conduct.
What to Do When the Relationship Breaks Down
If the letting agent has been negligent in such a way that they are in breach of their contract, you are legally entitled to cancel the contract with them, and should not incur any charges for doing so. This doesn’t affect your right to pursue them through the courts if necessary for any damages (financially) that were incurred through their breach of contract.
Your Letting Agent not passing on rent to you?
Well First you should get in touch with your tenant directly as soon as you notice you haven’t received any rent from your Letting agent. Find out firstly whether they are paying the agent. If they are paying the Agent on time every month and has shown proof of this, immediately advise your tenants to stop paying the Letting agent and to pay you directly.
Then you have a serious talk with your Letting Agent to find out why they have not been paying your rent when you have seen clear evidence that the Tenant has paid on time. You advise them that you have instructed the tenant to pay you directly. If the agent says to you “you cant do that, they are our tenants” – Remember what I said above, your in charge, its your property, the tenants are legally obliged to pay the owner of the property which is you!!!
I have to say this, it does sometime shock me how some landlords are months or years in arrears because the Letting agent has failed to pay rent. I mean surely people don’t think Letting Agents are ‘God’ where they are untouchable.
What measures has your Letting Agent taken to protect all Clients Money
IS YOUR AGENT??>
What is Client Money Protection?
Money held or rent collected for and on behalf of client landlords (including ex-clients) is considered as client money – and this will include deposits or money held for and on behalf of an applicant, tenant or ex-tenant, the letting agent must comply at all times with the regulatory bodies’ rules or byelaws in relation to the handling of clients’ money.
The letting agent must provide you with an appropriate, regular Statement/Invoice detailing Income and Expenditure. Other than for trivial or minor amounts, adequately detailed invoices or receipts should support payments made on behalf of a client and copies provided to the client upon request.
I hope this article has helped and educated you enough to give you more confidence when dealing with a Letting Agents and being a Landlord
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