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Is this a fee I have to swallow?


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I'm a landlord with a letting agent as I live abroad. Back in February this year, the drains out side the house were blocked. The agent contacted me to say they had called out a contractor to see what the problem was. I explained that I have all drains maintenance ect covered by a service I pay monthly for, of which the letting agent were notified of at the beginning. They said they would therefore cancel the contractor and instruct the paid service to sort the problem.

I was charged for the drains to be cleared as it was due to leaves not being swept and cleared away. However a month later I was charged a call out fee by the contractor originally instructed by the letting agent! I asked to see the invoice and it says £100 call out unable to gain access to property! When I questioned the letting agent, they offered to pay half, which I did not accept and now they never answer my emails when I ask why they havent refunded me in full.

Are they responsible for this call out fee? If they arrange a call out should they arrange to be at the property or the tenant to be at the property to allow access for contractors?

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Its quite difficult to understand what's happened here. You already pay for a service that should clear the drains but then you say you paid extra to have the drains cleared.....did the service you pay for not cover blockage due to leaves ?

It does seem that the LA is at fault by calling an independent contractor when you already have insurance cover and then not cancelling.

Normally the LA will have your authority to arrange repairs & maintenance up to an agreed amount. Over that they need to get your approval. Clearly its not right that you should have to, in effect, pay twice.

Dealing with matters when you are overseas is difficult, I have experience of that myself. Normally I'd suggest you send a letter before action and if you don't get reimbursed use the small claims court to get what's owed from the agent. If you are due to return to the UK in the near future you could put that plan on hold until then.

As far as who should attend callouts. I have a clause in my AST making the tenant responsible for ensuring access can be obtained but clearly if they can't make it your agent should.

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The bottom line is if you had an insurance policy that covered this type of problem and your agent was aware of this policy being in place and they didn't use it when needed then the agent is at fault.

You need to demand repayment from the agent of the £100 and threaten to terminate their services unless refunded within 5 days. I would also request details of their complaints procedure and state you will be entering a complaint to the redress (ombudsman) scheme they belong to. Ask or check on their website to find out which one they belong to (its now a legal requirement for agents).

Are you classed as a non-res? If so you should have a code from the IR which gives permission for your agent to pay your rent over without deducting tax.

The reason I ask is if you change agent you need to apply for a new code as the original one is linked to the agent.

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