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Estate agent for Watchdog Candidate?


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My dad is a landlord and I have been given the chance and responsability to deal with his property. I found a letting agent who got some great tenants however, pretty much from the off, other than getting the tenants, the letting agent has been nothing but bad news. This is the first time I have let a property through an agent so i didnt know what to expect and I admit I've made some amature mistakes. So here's the score....

I got speaking to the lettings agent about October 08 where they said they'd find me tenants and I would'nt have to pay any commission for the first six as my dad was a "new landlord" meaning that he was a new customer to them. Then after this 6 month period we were to pay commission for the rest of the term at 15% on a full management basis. This was all verbaly confirmed and I still have a very brief leaflet they gave. The estate agent then got us some tenants, all 3 parties signed a tenancy agreement and my dad decided to take the full management service from the letting agent. The tenants then moved into the property on the 10/09/08 agreeing to pay £975pcm due on the 1st of every month as written on the contract and to pay a deposit of £975 before moving into the property.

When the first payment was paid I have just this second calculated and realised we should've got paid £682.50 for the period 10/09/08 to 30/09/08 with a deposit of £975 however this didnt happen. Instead the contact stated "The first payment of £673.16 being due on 10/09/2008 or prior to the date of taking possession" and there is no mention when the deposit had to be paid by but only the only £975.00 was to be paid. My dad did not recieve any money in his account till 15/10/08 where he was paid £673.16 for period 10/09/08 to 30/09/08 and £975.00 for period 01/10/08 to 31/10/08 minus £95.00 for a gas certificate arranged by the agent and also £877.50 for 6 months full management charges leaving the sum of £675.66. I then raised the query why they had taken the management fee upfront as this was not what was agreed. They then told me they had no recollection of a 6 month 0% offer and that if we were cancel the management service then we would be liable to pay for the rest of the service. I searched through the tenancy agreement and there werent any mention about the the management terms and conditions. I felt there was nothing we could do and as its already been paid for hopefully they'd at least provide a decent service - what a mistake that turned out to be and on reflection by now I should've asked for the terms and conditions for the management service but did'nt.

Anyway the following month on the 17/11/08 we were expecting to get £975.00 but instead got £675.00. So again we got back to them where they said the tenant had underpaid and that they would chase it up. I did mention to them to take it out of the deposit as I was under the impression that they were holding onto it and top up the deposit when the tenants pay up. The agent then told us they wernt allowed to do this so we decided to let them show us what their full management service was about.

We then started to get calls from the agent to make repairs on certain things where they said they'd cost alot more if they were to just carry out the works so it would be better off if we were to make the arrangements. This is when it begun to annoy me however I was'nt woking at the time and I carried out the repairs myself to the tennants satisfaction saving a few quid(I usually work as a maintenance technician).

On the 15/12/08 and 14/12/08 my dad recieved £975.00 on each date - pat on the back to the agent however I did call up each month to chase up the £300 missing from 17/11/08 and each time they kept saying they were being completely evasive and kept telling me that their "accounts department at head office" was dealing with it and they have'nt had no reponse in 2 months. I got the impression that there was no head office and the feeling that the agent was upto something. The tenants eventually just started calling me everytime something needed fixing which I thought the agent was supose to deal with and I thought this would be a good opportunity to enquire about the missing £300. The tenant explained regarding the maintenance they would'nt have contacted me but they were vebally raising maintenance issues to the agent but nothing was getting done.

As far as payments were concerned he explained was up to date. He showed me payment reciepts dated upto 11/09/08 for the amount of £1948 which to me shows that it covered the first payment and deposit leaving £299.84 (based on the first payment being £673.16 and not £682.50). Then he explained and proved that the council paid a finders fee grant. An e-mail dated 04/12/08 between the tenant and agent indicates that the agent confirms recieving £1000 from the council. He told me that he paid nothing in October 08 as money left over from the 1st payment and the grant covered that month. He then intentionally paid £675.00 in November 08 as the remaining money covered the rest of novembers payment. He also explained that the agent without informing him had sprung a credit check and admin charge of £300 on him so it might be why my dad was £300 short. The tenant then showed the rest of his bank statements showing regular payments of £975 every month.

I didnt know what to believe about the £300 at this point and explained to the tenant that it is normal for a credit check per person to be carried out but could comment on how much it would cost. The tenant explained it cost him £100 for both him and his wife and £200 on admin charges and that he is seeking legal advice on this matter so I left him to it for now. Finally he mentioned that when he paid the deposit he was not given any confirmation as to which deposit scheme was used to hold the deposit. I didnt have a clue what he was on about and later read up on tenancy deposit schemes where I informed him that as the agent is the stakeholder of the deposit, they are by law required to inform him within 14 days of recieving the deposit which scheme is being used so that was that.

I then approached a Law center to get advice as what to do about this issue which they were kind enough to help (they not suppose to help landlords). They advised to speak direct to the management of the agent and that if we didnt wish to continue with the agent then we would just have to put it in writing to them. So I went to the agent and firstly enquired about the deposit. The agent initially went and looked through what appeared to be a database then being evasive just like on the phone said that she couldnt find it, it would take too long to look it up and in any case was not allowed to show me or my dad any tenancy deposit scheme documents as this was a matter only between the agent and the tenant. I then firmly asked about the £300 from November 08. The agent unexpected started shouting at me telling me how they've provided a superb service, that me and my dad were naive/didnt have a clue in respect to how lettings world work, we should consider ourselves lucky as there are landlords in far worse situations and that we should leave it to the proffessionals to do their job. The icing on the cake was when she said that we should feel privilaged that we had the chance to see her and that we should be paying for her time but wouldnt be charged?! I now knew for sure something wernt quite right and got the feeling that she was use to trying to intimidate her clients to palm them off.

Anyway I left and decided to do 5 things so far... 1) I read through the contract thoughly and found 1 particular error where the letting agent that I have been dealing is not the letting agent on the contract. Its the same company but different address. I went and checked out this other address and found that the branch mentioned on the contract had closed down. I was also confronted by the landlord of this address who thought I was something to do with the agent and started demanding 6 months of rent that they owed before they done a runner. I explained my situation which is when he showed me all the post of people that were also after the agent. 2) I then checked to see if the letting agent was a member of any regulatory body such as the ombudsman fo estate agent which they wernt and as they wernt I couldnt pursure that route - none of these bodies deal with agents unless they are a member. 3) I contacted trading standards who put me through to consumer direct and they explained as trading standards are so understaffed and underbudgeted. Consumer direct took the calls and filed a complaint and it would then be upto trading standards to take do something about it but it was unlikely that they would and that if I wanted to check any progress I couldnt - what a waste of time. 4) The tenant and I put in writing to the agent that we wished to end services with the agent and have the deposit refunded. The agent then responded in writing that my dad had signed a 24 month agreement with the agent to manage his property which I dont remember him signing(I was there when signing documents), he didnt get a copy of this apparant management agreement, no terms and conditions were provided and with no intention of exaggerating the signiture looks fake on the management agreement document sent with their letter. As for the deposit the letter states "with regard to your deposit, as explained to you previously was an incentive payment from hillingdon council; Therefore there is no requirement for a tenancy deposit scheme". So what happened to this payment??? Finally 5) I've written this extremly long thead on this forum in the hope that some good soul might read its mammoth content, help and not just say go see a solicitor or citizens advice bereau as they only advise to see a solicitor.

I know I've been very foolish in not reading the contract before my dad signed it and also not reading the terms and conditions of the letting agent regarding the mangement services. I would approach a solicitor but we genuinely cant afford one so please please if anyone can advise me on what to do then it would really make my year - honest. I would say I'm able to do any paperwork/admin or actions regarding this matter but just need some good guidance.

Thank you so much with at least getting through to the end of this thread and apologies however I felt the details were relevant and necessary. Hope to hear from you and any advice/info would be very appriciated

kind regards


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Good grief! You have had major problems with this letting.

Suggestions? Not sure? I think I would be looking to wind everything up and to get the Tenant to pay you directly from now on and then sort out this Letting Agency and it sounds like you need proper legal advice on to how to go about recovering some money.

They are clearly wrong about the deposit protection and the money held therin.

Gas certificates at £95 a time ....Blimey, I wish we could get away with that! :rolleyes:

Good luck and I have no doubt someone else on here will have something to say.....Trenners where are you???


PS Mark Trenners.....I hear Paul is working for you now.....give him my regards......he (and his missus) is an 'old' family friend.

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Thanks for the input Mel. Since Me and the tenant wrote off to the agent we have made arrangements for the tenant to pay directly to my dad. As for getting legal advice as mentioned already its something I'd really like to do, Im not being tight but genuinely can't afford legal representation unless it was something like a no win no fee basis. I look forward to any further advice and once again thanks

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