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Termination of contract with agent

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Hi

I have two properties managed by a letting agent since October 2013.

At the time when I signed an open ended standard management agreement with the agent, both properties were already rented out.

The tenants were previously found by the same agent under a tenant find only service (one of the tenants was already in occupation for 1 year, the other one for several years).

One tenant left in June 2014, one is still in occupation. No new contracts were issued to the existing tenants when the agent started the management service, the agent only sent letters informing them of the new arrangement (e.g. standard management service)

Due to poor management service from the agent since Oct 2013, I decided to terminate the agreement with him and wrote to him about this, including asking him not to take any action whatsoever in relation to the properties from the moment when I gave him notice.

The agent replied by email:

"under our terms of business its three month notice in writing, and compensation of 1 month in respect of the tenant already in place"

also

"at the time of our signing up meeting no set up fees or change over fees applied due to tenants already in situ"

The terms that he provided in October 2013 (and I was not informed of any changes to them) state:

"the agreement can be terminated by either party by way of three months written notice. The minimum fee applies if on termination the total fees due are less than the minimum fee. A placement fee equivalent to one month's rent will be payable where the Landlord intends to continue letting to tenants introduced by the Agent after the termination of this agreement"

Also

" a set-up fee will normally be levied at the outset for taking references and arranging the Tenancy"

and

Changeover fees (full service inc rent guarantees ) of £xxx plus VAT

In Oct 2013, there was no need for the agent to take references etc, as it was all done long before he started his management service so he "waved" his fees for set up.

I believe he is twisting his terms to imply

- the "placement fee" becomes now a "compensation of 1 month",

- "tenants introduced by the Agent" become "tenants already in place"

Basically, that the tenant still in occupation of one the properties (who has been there for several years before the agent started his management service) is "his", instead of him having managed properties which were occupied by "my" tenants (he seems to imply that changeover was me "passing" the tenant to him, as if he found the tenant in Oct 2013 when he started managing the properties).

Also, he said he will send me again his landlord pack, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of the terms might have been changed after I issued his termination notice.

- Can you please advise how to reply to the agent and refute his claim of "compensation of 1 month in respect of the tenant already in place".

Also, I terminated my contract with him due to poor service since Oct 2013 (several complaints in writing), including misrepresentation of my property which is available for rent now (e.g. advertising on national websites using old photos, showing white goods and furniture no longer in the property).

- Will I be bound to pay him 3 months fees for property management - either for the property which is empty now or the one where the tenant (found by him years ago under a different service), is still in occupation?

- I have already given him written notice, and required him to stop services on either properties from the date when I sent the notice. Can I employ a different letting agent to find a tenant for the property which is empty now?

- I want to give the tenant still in occupation of the second property a new contract. I talked to the tenant and he agrees with signing a new 6 month contract.

Can I issue it now or do I need to give the tenant 1 month notice of a new contract - 6 months shorthold tenancy as opposed to the current periodic tenancy?

Many thanks for advice.

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First thing to be aware of is who is holding the tenants deposits? You or LA? Do you have a deposit reference number etc?

To your question:

At the time when I signed an open ended standard management agreement with the agent, both properties were already rented out.

If you have signed an agreement contract with this LA you should have a signed copy as well displaying the T&Cs.

You can stop using this LA provided you have a recorded letter history of mis-management that would convince a court judge that you took the necessary and reasonable steps to off-load this LA due to their incompetence.

The LA will almost certainly take you through the small claims court for the money owed. It is unlikely the LA would win their case though if you have enough evidence to prove mis-management and the LA will have to show a clear and precise evidence that their paperwork is 100% correct when dealing with you.

From what you have said it all looks a bit iffy to me that this LA actually knows the business procedure when dealing with landlords and tenants.

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