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Do we have case against letting agent ?

(8 Posts)
Shorty1980 Thu 28-Feb-13 14:01:52

In small claims court or similar?

The letting agent:
1. Failed to take a deposit of tenants
2. Failed to collect full rent (most of the rent is paid direct from housing benefit but the tenants were supposed to top up by around £50 a month - they haven't done this for 6 months so £300 in arrears. Agent has been taking commission from housing benefit element of rent regardless).
3. Tenants have now done a runner, no notice, no rent for previous month
4. When we finally get back in to property (have to apply for court order against tenants), its highly likely there will be damage and items missing (house was fully furnished). Because no deposit, we will have to pay out to make house right again.

Do we stand a chance of reclaiming costs of arrears, rent and damage/replacing missing items from letting agent?

Shorty1980 Thu 28-Feb-13 14:03:55

They failed to take a deposit from the tenants, not "of the tenants".

cumfy Thu 28-Feb-13 14:24:42

Is the deposit in the tenancy contract ?

What does it say in your contract with the agent ?

Shorty1980 Thu 28-Feb-13 14:43:31

I'll need to check our contract with them (5 month ds doesn't have much patience for rooting through paperwork sadly) but the tenancy contract mentions the deposit but sets it at £0. However I never signed the tenancy contract (so we didn't find out about the lack of deposit until the tenants were in, I would never have agreed to that). I'm pretty sure the contract between us and the agents doesn't mention deposits, I naively took that as a given that you would always take one (or at least rent upfront).

Thanks for replying btw, getting myself in a right lather about this because I'm on mat leave and we can't afford to soak this up - we are accidental landlords as house is in negative equity.

cumfy Thu 28-Feb-13 16:08:36

I would expect full reimbursement.

You may have to threaten them with small claims, as they sound completely incompetent.
Make sure you let them know how easy it is going to be for you taking a small claims action.

But you need to find your contact with LA.

Shorty1980 Thu 28-Feb-13 16:16:04

Thanks cumfy, that's really reassuring.

The agency are completely incompetent - should have set my alarm bells ringing when they were happy for me to sign the contract there and then (my name is not on the deeds or the mortgage, husband bought it before we met).

Boomboomboomboom Thu 28-Feb-13 20:50:04

If they have done a runner and you are sure they are not returning,you could possibly consider their conduct a surrender of the tenancy and as such you do not need to get a court order to regain possession.Just turn up and change the locks.

Have a look at the law of surrender.

Downsides are that they may, potentially, say that they haven't done a runner, just buggered off for a bit and you have unlawfully evicted them and you'd be in trouble.

Plus side is no waiting around and court costs.

Main question is - how sure are you that they have done a runner and abandoned the property?

As to how liable are your agents, depends on your contract. Did you have landlord's insurance?

Shorty1980 Thu 28-Feb-13 21:13:08

Thanks Boomboomboomboom,

I didn't know about the law of surrender (and incompetent LA sure as hell didn't mention it!). I'm pretty sure they're not coming back - I wouldn't if I was them, arrears of several hundred pounds and no deposit to protect.

When the baby finally falls asleep I will dig out the contract (dh thinks it is worthless anyway because signed by me and not him, but surely it weakens our case against the LA if we bring that up?). The most annoying thing is that they charged us £200 to find these wonderful tenants, plus 10% commission every month and to do what?

We do have landlords insurance but only buildings and contents so I'm not sure how much help that would be? Presume if they have taken items from the property we can pursue the ex tenants for theft?

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