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Getting rid of bad letting agent


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Hi, help/advice please.

I have been letting out my Essex home using an agent, who has messed me around. I want to end my relationship with them asap. Here are the important points:

1. The agents originally let the house to tenants for 12 months. After six months the agents let the tenants move out without telling me. Then they moved in new tenants on a new 2-year contract, with a two week gap (and loss of rent) between. They didn't tell me about this for two months.

2. There are at least six people living in my three bedroom house, although there are only two names on the contract. I have told the agents this is unacceptable, but they have done nothing.

3. The rent has always been about 2 weeks late coming to me.

4. I spoke to the agents a month ago, saying I wanted the tenants out, my house back and my agreement with the agent terminated. They agreed. I wrote to them asking for this in writing; they have failed to do this.

5. Yesterday they said they will do this (get the tenants out on their six-month break clause), but I will have to pay them their management fee for the next 18 months.

6. I have a contract with the agent that states I need to give them 12 months notice. It also states in the small print (yes, I should have read it!) that they can do pretty much everything they have done.

7. I cannot afford a lawyer (I recently lost my job and have just had a baby).

8. The agents has always been unhelpful, intransigent and generally avoids answering my calls.

I am planning on sitting in the agents office, talking to them and then trying to get them to sign an agreement that gets them to wind up our relationship at the tenants six-month break clause, so I have stuff in writing.

If the agents refuse to do this, or demand large amounts of money I don't have, can I: take over the management myself and wash my hands of the agent and hope he doesn't take me to court?

Is he likely to take me to court?

ps they are a backstreet-type agent (not registered with ARLA, etc)

Any advice please.

ps I just remembered this extra info/detail:

When the previous tenants left, they took the lawnmower and all the gardening equipment. I asked the agent to take money out of their deposit for this. He said he would but he didn't.

The agent has failed to carry out repairs he said he would.

The house is joint owned by my ex partner, who didn't sign the contract with the agent. Could this nullify the contract? Or just put me further in a mess?

Could I take the agent to court to claim he has acted so badly that I am justified in terminating my contract with him?

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