Jump to content
mickthecobbler

Dodgy Agent

Recommended Posts

Hi

I would like to take action against the agent that was allegedly managing our property. They found a tenant who moved in to the house in December 2009. He has since left the property owing 3 months rent, and quite a lot of damage both internally and externally in the garden.

My complaint surrounds several things.

1. We explicitly stated that there were to be no animals in the property. The tenant had 2 dogs which have caused considerable damage to the garden. The tenant had stated that he had dogs on his application form, but the agent allowed him to take on the tenancy. Agent response: "they were originally [tenants'] parents dogs and would be returning to them".

2. The tenant had a CCJ of which we were advised but that he was paying it off. Agent response: '[Agent] can only advise the condition on the credit report when completed the evidence is then put to the landlord for their decision on continuation of the let".

3. Employment references were not fully checked. Tenant's employer was also his next-door neighbour, and the employment dates did not match between the reference and his application form. Agent response: "this was noted at the time and the difference is due to [Tenant] doing casual work for [Employer] and then Joining the company full time on the 19/08/2008. I do see your concerns with the employer being the next door neighbour but this is a co-incidence and irrelevant if his employer is next door or the other side of the country".

4. I telephoned the tenants former landlord who informed me that the tenant was not reliable and regularly was late with his payments. Agent response: "it was discussed at this time [6th April] about the reference that he supplied and only then did he advise that he had been late on a number of occasions by a couple of days with the rent".

5. Due to the tenant leaving, we authorised the locks to be changed, however the agent forgot to include the lock on the door of the integral garage, which affords full access to the property. Agent response: "there was no instruction to change this lock until you [me] arrived at the property the first instruction was to only change the front door and to leave all others and the kitchen door was only instructed on after you where advised that no key had been left in the door".

I have entrusted our property to this agent to look after it on our behalf as we live outside the UK. We pay for the fully managed service and are now quite considerably out of pocket, as a result of what I deem to be very poor service. I understand that I have little hope of pursuing the agent for the non-paid rent, but can I at least claim against him for the additional cost of repairing the property. As the tenant paid a deposit, the majority of the costs will come from that. I estimate around £500 additional cost which I believe should be covered by the agent. However when we finally did get the deposit, the agent took "outstanding fees" from this and gave us the balance. Is he allowed to do that?

Do I have a case?

I appreciate any help you can give. To make this even more comical, the agent responded to me by telling me how that they had just won an award for the agent providing the best service for the whole of the Midlands. Maybe the best agent for providing excuses for not managing a property! Either way I thought it a damn cheek!

I am going to make an official complaint to the Property Ombudsman but would like some advice if anyone can help.

Best regards,

Mick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi

I would like to take action against the agent that was allegedly managing our property. They found a tenant who moved in to the house in December 2009. He has since left the property owing 3 months rent, and quite a lot of damage both internally and externally in the garden.

My complaint surrounds several things.

1. We explicitly stated that there were to be no animals in the property. The tenant had 2 dogs which have caused considerable damage to the garden. The tenant had stated that he had dogs on his application form, but the agent allowed him to take on the tenancy. Agent response: "they were originally [tenants'] parents dogs and would be returning to them".

It does happen when a tenant states something similar as above but they should have least advised you of it and got a date of when the dogs would have been returned so it could have been checked up on.

2. The tenant had a CCJ of which we were advised but that he was paying it off. Agent response: '[Agent] can only advise the condition on the credit report when completed the evidence is then put to the landlord for their decision on continuation of the let".

Correct, the agent cant keep a check of if the ccj is being paid off or not

3. Employment references were not fully checked. Tenant's employer was also his next-door neighbour, and the employment dates did not match between the reference and his application form. Agent response: "this was noted at the time and the difference is due to [Tenant] doing casual work for [Employer] and then Joining the company full time on the 19/08/2008. I do see your concerns with the employer being the next door neighbour but this is a co-incidence and irrelevant if his employer is next door or the other side of the country".

It does seem a bit odd but it does happen.

4. I telephoned the tenants former landlord who informed me that the tenant was not reliable and regularly was late with his payments. Agent response: "it was discussed at this time [6th April] about the reference that he supplied and only then did he advise that he had been late on a number of occasions by a couple of days with the rent".

Once again it seems a bit odd it wasnt disclosed before the tenancy but how can you tell who is telling the truth it is the agents word against the former landlord

5. Due to the tenant leaving, we authorised the locks to be changed, however the agent forgot to include the lock on the door of the integral garage, which affords full access to the property. Agent response: "there was no instruction to change this lock until you [me] arrived at the property the first instruction was to only change the front door and to leave all others and the kitchen door was only instructed on after you where advised that no key had been left in the door".

You know what was said so I cant comment but wouldnt of it been wise to have put a important instruction like that in writing

I have entrusted our property to this agent to look after it on our behalf as we live outside the UK. We pay for the fully managed service and are now quite considerably out of pocket, as a result of what I deem to be very poor service. I understand that I have little hope of pursuing the agent for the non-paid rent, but can I at least claim against him for the additional cost of repairing the property. As the tenant paid a deposit, the majority of the costs will come from that. I estimate around £500 additional cost which I believe should be covered by the agent.

You will have to prove this loss was the reponsibility of the agent to have a claim

However when we finally did get the deposit, the agent took "outstanding fees" from this and gave us the balance. Is he allowed to do that?

Depends what is in the T & C's you signed with the agent.

Do I have a case?

I appreciate any help you can give. To make this even more comical, the agent responded to me by telling me how that they had just won an award for the agent providing the best service for the whole of the Midlands.

That could be true but it doesnt stop any agent making mistakes

Maybe the best agent for providing excuses for not managing a property! Either way I thought it a damn cheek!

I am going to make an official complaint to the Property Ombudsman but would like some advice if anyone can help.

Best regards,

Mick

What you have to bear in mind is letting a property is not a precise science and not risk free even with a agent. If you you want risk free put money in the post office.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You certainly have a case imo..............

The small claims court is the place to go to and basically outline everything you have mentioned above in your complaint. To me it does sound like you have had a very rough deal from this agent and they need to be brought to book for their shortcomings in how they handled your property letting.

The bottom line is are you prepared to follow it all though with legal action?.... or do you walk away from it and move on?

Personally speaking I would have a crack at it if I thought I had a good case and besides a National LA like this would not appreciate the bad publicity so inform them that you intend to seek some if not all redress through the courts.

You have reminded me of why I never use an LA to manage my properties but always manage my own then at least I know what is going on with my Tenant's.

Mel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I disagree with Melboy (regarding you having a case against the letting agent) ..... but then Melboy and I rarely agree on anything!

I think the letting agent has done their very best to keep you informed and YOUR bad decision making has caused you to get into the mess (see below). Like many landlords, though, after you have made a poor business decision (to accept a tenant with a CCJ) you then try and blame the letting agent (who is doing his best to follow your instructions) when it all goes wrong

Specifically:-

The agent informed you about the pets (many tenants claim the pets belong to someone else and were probably misled by the tenant). Agents cannot dictate the way that tenants lead their lives (and landlords can't either).

The agent advised you about the CCJ and you accepted the tenant (no wonder you ended up losing rent). What is the point of credit checking a tenant if you then ignore the credit check and accept tenants with CCJs.

The employment references were received. I agree that the fact the employer lives next door to the employee is odd .. but what do you expect the letting agent to do .... get the employer to move house? They took the references on your behalf. This should not have been necessary as the tenants should have been "qualified out" at the CCJ stage.

Regarding the landlord reference - the tenant has got CCJs ........ of course he is going to default on the rent!!!

Regarding the locks - if the agent had changed too many locks you would have refused to pay (for the extra locks) and if the agent doesn't change enough of the locks .... you still complain !!

In summary, the agent has done his best to follow your instructions .... and you would have not got into this mess if you had turned down a tenant with a CCJ (which you had ample opportunity to do).

Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mick - I think you need to understand more about being a landlord and risk taking.

Where did you get the idea of a 'Property Ombudsman'? There isn't one as far as I know. Now there's a novel idea!

Mortitia

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I disagree with Melboy (regarding you having a case against the letting agent) ..... but then Melboy and I rarely agree on anything!

I think the letting agent has done their very best to keep you informed and YOUR bad decision making has caused you to get into the mess (see below). Like many landlords, though, after you have made a poor business decision (to accept a tenant with a CCJ) you then try and blame the letting agent (who is doing his best to follow your instructions) when it all goes wrong

Specifically:-

The agent informed you about the pets (many tenants claim the pets belong to someone else and were probably misled by the tenant). Agents cannot dictate the way that tenants lead their lives (and landlords can't either).

The agent advised you about the CCJ and you accepted the tenant (no wonder you ended up losing rent). What is the point of credit checking a tenant if you then ignore the credit check and accept tenants with CCJs.

The employment references were received. I agree that the fact the employer lives next door to the employee is odd .. but what do you expect the letting agent to do .... get the employer to move house? They took the references on your behalf. This should not have been necessary as the tenants should have been "qualified out" at the CCJ stage.

Regarding the landlord reference - the tenant has got CCJs ........ of course he is going to default on the rent!!!

Regarding the locks - if the agent had changed too many locks you would have refused to pay (for the extra locks) and if the agent doesn't change enough of the locks .... you still complain !!

In summary, the agent has done his best to follow your instructions .... and you would have not got into this mess if you had turned down a tenant with a CCJ (which you had ample opportunity to do).

Mark

Welcome back Mark.............

In my defence I did say I he had a choice of walking away from it all and moving on rather than taking the legal route. I personally.... and I have in past years, walked away from bad situations like this but in the knowledge that my LA has not committed to looking after my interests in my absence.

My scepatism of using an LA does come from using, in the past ,National LA's who have just not come up to standard in their approach in looking after me, the Landlord and were far more interested in getting the property onto their books and getting the money in to meet their sales targets.

I too have had my fair share of problems over the years with tenant's who have concealed critical facts from the LA which would have barred them from my property had I been in full possession of the facts.

A lot of new Landlord's are guided by their LA because of their own lack of rental property knowledge and as they are paying for a professional service newbie Landlord's often think that any problems just won't exist when in actual fact they will because the new Landlord is just not wise to the hidden problems and fail to ask the right questions to their LA before signing the contract and accepting the tenant.

I do accept though that you Mark operate a small independent LA and do offer a better personal service to Landlord's and Tenant's alike.

Mel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am just about to send a final complaints letter to my former letting agent, though i know i wont even get a reply to it, well i doubt it. I think i have a good case, for a complaint and or compensation, but who knows, I personally think my former LA has failed us on so many counts through neglect and deceit, to long winded to go into here, but the letter runs into 7 pages. I am thinking of asking trading standards to look into it. But i will be forwarding my complaint onto the Ombudsmen, if i get no joy from the LA concerned.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Step 1:

Check that the agent is a mmber of the Ombudsman Scheme or you will be wasting your time since he has no control over agents who are not members. If the agent is a member of NALS then they must be member of the Ombudsman Scheme.

Th other points have been covered more than adequately by the others however there is one point that has been overlooked. The OFT use the "no pets" clause as an unfair term depending on the type of property and the landlords' situation, so I would be wary of using that as one of the complaints.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have taken an agen to court and come away with nothing but him getting a slap on the wrist as I didn't proove to the satisfaction of the judge that we had lost any money, we redid the garden ourselves and paid the neighbours for the fence that the unwanted dog broke down.

We were in a stronger position than you as the dog arrived at the property after is had been let on the basis of no cats nor dogs.

The dog was a redsetter who was not walked often enough.

As to the other stuff, you did accept the tenant despite a CCJ. I would never accept a tenant on this basis as it could be a CCJ regarding having left a previous property owing money to the LL.

I know this is a difficult learning experience, but we all need to learn;

Dogs and cats cause smells, damage and allergies to your next tenant so don't have them unless you want all your future tenants to be pet owners as they will be the only ones who make an offer while the currnet tenant is residence, you are therefore garunteed a longish down period if you have them, while you get the place cleaned and fumigated. Be warned that people with severa pet allergies won't be able to use your property after this and so you could make a claim agains the agent due to the enforced down time caused by this but you would need pretty good proof and letters from other agents to confirm that this was the problem.

Proof. Proof. Proof

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I disagree with Melboy (regarding you having a case against the letting agent) ..... but then Melboy and I rarely agree on anything!

I think the letting agent has done their very best to keep you informed and YOUR bad decision making has caused you to get into the mess (see below). Like many landlords, though, after you have made a poor business decision (to accept a tenant with a CCJ) you then try and blame the letting agent (who is doing his best to follow your instructions) when it all goes wrong

Specifically:-

The agent informed you about the pets (many tenants claim the pets belong to someone else and were probably misled by the tenant). Agents cannot dictate the way that tenants lead their lives (and landlords can't either).

The agent advised you about the CCJ and you accepted the tenant (no wonder you ended up losing rent). What is the point of credit checking a tenant if you then ignore the credit check and accept tenants with CCJs.

The employment references were received. I agree that the fact the employer lives next door to the employee is odd .. but what do you expect the letting agent to do .... get the employer to move house? They took the references on your behalf. This should not have been necessary as the tenants should have been "qualified out" at the CCJ stage.

Regarding the landlord reference - the tenant has got CCJs ........ of course he is going to default on the rent!!!

Regarding the locks - if the agent had changed too many locks you would have refused to pay (for the extra locks) and if the agent doesn't change enough of the locks .... you still complain !!

In summary, the agent has done his best to follow your instructions .... and you would have not got into this mess if you had turned down a tenant with a CCJ (which you had ample opportunity to do).

Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Trenners for your comments.

I guess you must be an agent yourself.

I realise that I could have refused this tenant, and it's something I'll learn from.

However, we were never informed about the dogs. If we had been we would have definitely refused him.

Also the agent didn't carry out the exit survey, closing accounts etc as per the Management Agreement. He claims that we did the check out ourselves, which is incorrect.

When we arrived at the property after he informed us that the tenant had done a runner, we took some photographs, video footage etc, for our own benefit.

He didn't even have a camera to take pictures.

He didn't inform the utility companies, and this has resulted in extra costs for me that could have been avoided if he had met the terms of the Management agreement.

Strangely though, he still managed to take the 10% fee, even from the deposit, which was higher than the normal monthly rent. I don't think this is fair or correct either.

More things to pass on to the Ombudsman / Courts!

Anyway, I appreciate all the comments.

I'll take this one through even if just on principle. I would like to make it known to the many people, what a poor and unreliable agent this guy is.

Mick

I disagree with Melboy (regarding you having a case against the letting agent) ..... but then Melboy and I rarely agree on anything!

I think the letting agent has done their very best to keep you informed and YOUR bad decision making has caused you to get into the mess (see below). Like many landlords, though, after you have made a poor business decision (to accept a tenant with a CCJ) you then try and blame the letting agent (who is doing his best to follow your instructions) when it all goes wrong

Specifically:-

The agent informed you about the pets (many tenants claim the pets belong to someone else and were probably misled by the tenant). Agents cannot dictate the way that tenants lead their lives (and landlords can't either).

The agent advised you about the CCJ and you accepted the tenant (no wonder you ended up losing rent). What is the point of credit checking a tenant if you then ignore the credit check and accept tenants with CCJs.

The employment references were received. I agree that the fact the employer lives next door to the employee is odd .. but what do you expect the letting agent to do .... get the employer to move house? They took the references on your behalf. This should not have been necessary as the tenants should have been "qualified out" at the CCJ stage.

Regarding the landlord reference - the tenant has got CCJs ........ of course he is going to default on the rent!!!

Regarding the locks - if the agent had changed too many locks you would have refused to pay (for the extra locks) and if the agent doesn't change enough of the locks .... you still complain !!

In summary, the agent has done his best to follow your instructions .... and you would have not got into this mess if you had turned down a tenant with a CCJ (which you had ample opportunity to do).

Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, after reading that reply Mark are we still disagreeing then? :D

I think you have a good case and grounds for some form of action against the LA.....Duty of Care springs to mind and that is when any person or business takes money from a customer for paid services provided then then the duty of care rule kicks in and in this case, as written, it is clearly evident that the LA has failed dismally to provide a service that is acceptable.

Mel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Mick (and Melboy of course!),

The point of my initial post was to highlight the fact that the letting agent may not have been negligent. The landlord chose to accept someone with a CCJ so I felt it unfair to lay the blame at the letting agents door. Many landlords immediately turn against their letting agent when thinks go wrong and I was merely pointing out that the problems you experienced were not _all_ the agent's fault.

However ........ deducting management fees from deposits, not informing utility companies, not owning a camera, not performing an exit inspection etc etc clearly shows that your agent has been negligent and you should, indeed, report them to the Ombudsman.

Regarding me, I am first and foremost a landlord with 14 of my own properties that then created my own Letting Agency (because I was frustrated by the poor service delivered by some other companies). I would comment that landlords are sometimes difficult to please .... but you have been clearly let down by a company that you trusted .......

I hope you win the case against your incompetent letting agent .... please let us know how you get on.

Best Wishes

Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Mike,

I am also having to deal with 'unprofessional' or dodgy estate agent and am also considering contacting the property ombudsman.

Like you I took on board an estate agent and paid full management fees as I was living abroad past months.

The agent did not handle my tenant's complaints and I have to chase the agent for my rent and invoices practically every month.

My case is this;

- Just recently, I extended my tenancy agreement with existing tenant using the same agent to produce a new tenancy agreement - which I was charged for and which I am aware of.

- The agent without any prior notification or information on their fees for renewal, even though I requested for this well before the renewal, deducted monies (£1000+) from my rental income stating this is for 'find new tenant'. I have e-mails to show my requests for 'what is involved..' before I proceeded with the renewal of the tenancy agreement.However the agent never got back to my request with fees/price etc.

- The agent did not performed what was stated & signed on the original t & c (the full management contract) which I terminated before the signing of the new tenancy agreement (to the same tenant). I terminated the full management contract for various reasons, mainly because they have not performed their duties as a full management agency.

- While I was abroad I had to deal of closure of my utility companies and also a complaint from a company not getting paid by my agent for fees which I have already paid for via the agent. Effectively holding my money and not paying the company for work done. The work was for the energy survey report.

- I got the agent to produce the new tenancy agreement just to smooth the transition process and must admit now that this was a BIG error of judgment as the agent again failed to act professionally.

- my tenant is not at all happy with the handling or lack of services from the estate agent and will gladly support my case if I ask them for help.

- I feel that I have a case but need further help to ensure I am acting according to the law.

BTW I am a recently qualified arbitrator and mediator, however I have not dealt with such matters on landlord vs estate agent. I would learn from my own case and hope I can help others too.

Certainly would like to hear more from others with similar experience.

Thanks,

Cher

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Quote:

"The agent without any prior notification or information on their fees for renewal, even though I requested for this well before the renewal, deducted monies (£1000+) from my rental income stating this is for 'find new tenant'. I have e-mails to show my requests for 'what is involved..' before I proceeded with the renewal of the tenancy agreement.However the agent never got back to my request with fees/price etc. "

This is NOT permitted. LA's cannot do this. Google Foxton's Law Case Dispute. Inform your LA and threaten legal action against them to recover your money in the small claims court after showing them the printed article and court case that followed....the Judge said that Foxton's were not entitled to another fee for an existing tenant that they had not introduced.

Mel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reading through this it all looks to be a bit of a nightmare. Small Claims is the way to go really only if you can show clearly and succinctly with supporting evidence that the LA promised to do something and didn't and that you suffered financially as a result. Small Claims is decided on balance of probability which means that a judge has to be more than 51% sure in order to award you anything and very sure indeed that you are in the right for it to be worth your while. Even if you do win, that is often not the end of it - some rogues simply don't pay, or give the bailiffs rubber cheques etc and then you can be in a position of having to go to the next stage (ie maybe claiming against property), this can cost thousands and even then I've known people sell a property from rigth under a solicitor's nose and the claimant still gets nothing apart from the expense. Its all a bit of a minefield.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...