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Stringvest

Dispute with letting agent

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Some 2/3 years ago friends of mine retired abroad to an EU country, they decided to let their house through a letting agency here in the UK as an income source.

In March of this year the tenants gave notice and moved out, the tenants received their deposit back in full.

The property has been un-let since then, and as far as we can tell it’s also not been advertised as vacant, certainly no board outside, this is obviously of concern to my friends who need an income from it.

About a month or so ago I got the keys from the agency to arrange grass cutting and obtain a meter reading.

I found that various items had been removed from the house, satellite dish, vacuum cleaner; the bathroom had had a leak damaging the floor tiles, kitchen units have been chewed by a dog and all the doors have been scratched by a dog, dogs weren’t allowed in the tenancy agreement, security lights had been allowed to rust away and were hanging by their cables, an outside door to an outbuilding had been allowed to rot away leaving a 10” hole along the bottom of the door, this leaves the out building insecure and has garden machinery stored in it and another outbuilding had been filled with scrap metal.

The letting agency have said they will refund the EPC charge, £100.00 +vat I believe and pay for electricity whilst the property has been vacant, which as the property has been empty will only amount to a standing charge.

They are adamant that the tenants didn’t have a dog and are saying it’s nothing to do with them, and my friends should take it up with the tenants, where ever they may be now.

My friends would like to know what their next course of action should be to resolve this dispute, as relatively new landlords they have no idea what there rights are.

Thank you.

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Hi String Vest,

Well .... the letting agents (LA) are a "soft target" to blame .... but is it there fault ?

The LA claims that the tenant didn't have a dog ... this is a common problem ... because THE TENANT hides the dog when the LA comes to do an inspection ... and the LA cannot come around and do an inspection unannounced.

However .. it is no excuse for the LA to return the entire deposit to the tenant's as it is clear, by your description, that the property has been damaged and the LA has been negligent (in not deducting the damage from the deposit before returning any balance to the tenant).

Also ... the LA will not be earning a fee from the property NOW, I assume, as when it is empty and untenanted no rent is paid and no fee commission is earned. SO ... unless your friends are paying them to manage the property in-between tenancies .... no-one is currently managing or looking after this property.

The place has remained empty since March ..... nearly 6 months ... in a hugely bouyant rental market ... would indicate that the property is either over-priced, poorly presented ... or not being marketed at all ... or all three!

What would I do ... I would demand a meeting with the director of the LA and point out that the property has been damaged and the LA should have noticed this as part of their exit inspection ... and I would seek compensation from them (as it is their fault that they returned the deposit in full).

I would "spruce the property up" ... so that it is suitable for letting .. and appoint a different LA to re-market the property asap.

Good luck ....

Mark

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