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EA from hell, bullying us into exchange

(63 Posts)
ellisss Fri 08-Sep-17 08:13:10

Writing this more as therapy to deal with the anger than anything else, as I know we are right, and you guys will sympathise with the situation!!

Situation is: we are FTB in rented accommodation, viewed house for sale with tenants in, negotiated for a month and finally had offer accepted on the basis that we would proceed ASAP, started all proceedings on our part swiftly (survey done within 10 days), contracts from seller's solicitor received after more than a month and following threat of pulling out, our solicitor had multiple queries and it took seller's solicitor more than a month to get back, which is where we are now, with not all queries replied to properly.
Throughout, from first viewing, we asked when current tenants would be leaving. Standard response from EA was "I will check". Second viewing and the tenants had rearranged a lot of furniture, clearly not getting ready to leave but rather settling in even further (been there 3 years I think). Twenty days from second viewing, the EA tells us they have been handed notice, but no indication as to what the notice period is. One-two months you may think. Well, we are now two and a half months on, and we have been told that the tenants have a moving date of a month from now! Shortly followed by urgent emails from EA and seller's solicitor asking for exchange in the next few days. Our solicitor has rightly advised that we should not exchange until we have viewed the property vacant. Have repeatedly told this to the EA. He says that it is the law that the tenants will vacate, which is just a blatant lie (they even have kids so would be even harder to evict!). We haven't even seen the actual notice docs, despite our solicitor asking for them. EA is now making threats saying that the seller will not be happy and will "probably put the house back on the market"... which really sounds ridiculous given the stage we are in. The EA's behaviour is making us think they do not believe the house will be vacated when they said it will be vacated, which further motivates us to wait for exchange! Seriously, how can these people do business in this way? So unprofessional, probably thinking we are FTB and can be fooled. Well, EA from hell, you are very much mistaken!
Is this even ethical? Could we report them to a industry standards board when this is all over? Don't wish anybody else has to deal with this appalling behaviour!
We are not even sure the seller is aware of the very poor advice they are receiving from the EA, is it a big No No to try and reach out to the seller ourselves, saying that we really want to buy but this EA is making it extremely difficult?

Oliversmumsarmy Fri 08-Sep-17 08:25:00

I would never consider exchanging on a tenanted place before tenants have moved out.

You could say you will sign and complete the day after or within a few days of the tenants having moving out. But no way would you exchange before. I would aso want to view the property directly before signing just to make sure and see all the paperwork regarding the tenants moving out.
Is the Landlord actually wanting to sell? Because if he is then he needs to realise he isn't going to get every penny of rent right up to the date of completion.

Spickle Fri 08-Sep-17 09:31:30

You have done nothing wrong.

Please act on the advice of your solicitor and ignore the EA. If you are intending to move into the house on completion then your solicitor will insist on vacant possession before he will exchange. This means the tenants do have to move out and you can then visit the property to ensure everything is in working order and there is no damage. This is absolutely normal and in no way should an EA be putting pressure on you to proceed.

It is normal for the landlord to give two months notice, but if the tenant refuses to leave, then there is a lengthy procedure, involving the courts, to get them out. This could add months to the transaction. So, while the law will eventually get these tenants out, the EA is wrong if he thinks that the tenants will just go when the notice period is up. You could try complaining to the industry board, however the EA is contracted by the seller not you, so I'm thinking that it would need to be the seller who complains. I do think you could liaise with the seller direct and probably get truthful answers from him.

I work for a conveyancing solicitor and to be honest, if all the queries haven't been answered satisfactorily then your quick purchase is not going to be quick. Your solicitor won't exchange until all queries are dealt with and the tenants gone and the onus is on the seller and his solicitor to do this, not you or your solicitor.

With buying and selling properties, EAs are the first point of contact with advertising the property, making and conducting viewings, liaising with the seller/buyer when negotiating a purchase price and then as a "sales progresser" when a sale has been agreed. All the legal stuff then passes to the conveyancing team and at this point, the EA is out of the loop. From here on the EA may talk to solicitors and sellers/buyers, but they do not see the legal documents nor do they have any training in this respect so the only person who can give you proper advice is your solicitor.

Good luck!

wowfudge Fri 08-Sep-17 09:57:22

Sadly I think the vendor wants to have their cake and eat it. As a landlord it is best to have the property vacant before trying to sell it precisely because the notice you can serve on tenants is one which is notice you will start eviction proceedings if they don't leave at the expiry of two months. If you are selling a property which was previously tenanted with no tenants you get no rent but it's a cash flow thing as you get the proceeds of sale on completion.

Just tell the EA, and, more importantly the vendors solicitor via your solicitor that you are happy to exchange and complete quickly once the tenants have moved out and you have proof of that. Ask for the date notice was served on them - you don't need to see the notice - to give you an idea of when the place could be vacant.

5rivers7hills Fri 08-Sep-17 09:59:37

You should visit in person BEFORE exchange AFTER the tenants have moved out to check condition.

shpaniard Fri 08-Sep-17 11:11:49

I’m eliss’ partner, the other part involved, this EA is making it incredibly difficult and is close to throw the sale away, I’m sure all he wants is his commission but it’s causing a lot of stress to us every day.

The only reason the sale hasn’t been completed by now is that they haven’t vacated the property and, as of now, they haven’t even provided a copy of the notice given to tenants, I wonder if there is something else going on. As Eliss said, they told us mid July they had given noticed to tenants which wasn’t true so I find difficult to trust them now.

We are FTB and we like the property, seller wants to sell as needs the money and probably that’s why they want to keep tenants every single day to squeeze and get every penny, it could make sense. They also have some charges over the property for LA.

The main issue I have is the bullying approach from the EA trying to force us to exchange with tenants with all the risks involved and threatening to put the property on the market if we don’t agree, we have done our due diligence from the first day to get everything ready and all these delays are costing us money. I’m sure we have the upper hand because the market is currently a buyer market with many property for sale in the area, even on the same street, prices are dropping, we are FTB with no chain ready to proceed and they won’t find easily a buyer interested in a tenanted property that won’t be vacated before completion.

So, I want to make the EA to pay for his unprofessional approach that is causing me distress and I’m very tented to review my offer down based on the following:

- They are delaying to vacate the property for a month and this is costing us an additional month of rent, just because the seller want to squeeze and get one more month of rent from current tenants
- There are some electrical works to be done from electrical report around £1k
- Offer was agreed back in June and market is coming down since - 1%-2%

Thoughts? I don’t want to engage with the EA but normally I don’t deal with this unprofessional and ethically dubious people normally so I really would love to show them you shouldn’t bully serious and honest people that are giving your business.

Also, is there any issue if I approach the seller directly to highlight what the EA is doing? Or if I escalate the issues with the seller’s solicitors?

Thanks all!

MsRight Fri 08-Sep-17 11:20:59

I would sound that out with your solicitor but I don't think you should contact the seller directly. You might have to be prepared to walk away or even just call their bluff. I don't see how you can reduce an offer because the estate agent is unprofessional. Not sure if your other points are valid so check with solicitor first.

wowfudge Fri 08-Sep-17 12:32:14

Be guided by your solicitor - take what the EA says with a pinch of salt. They want the sale to go through so I would be tempted to get your solicitor to let the vendor's solicitor know your position and mention that the EA's tone and repeated calls are divisive and making you rethink things. With the EA be assertive and adopt the broken record approach. Once you have clarification the property is vacant, you will be happy to exchange.

It really isn't worth trying to pursue the EA - many many people hate them and think they are untrustworthy. Expend your energies on something else.

wowfudge Fri 08-Sep-17 12:34:03

And the point I was making in my first post on this thread is that the EA is acting on the instructions of the vendor: he is the vendor's agent.

brassbrass Fri 08-Sep-17 12:38:27

I'd listen to your solicitor.

Tell the EA to back off and say you're dropping your offer price to factor the delay and additional rent you will now have to pay.

wowfudge Fri 08-Sep-17 12:42:57

Paying additional rent isn't a bargaining chip - you'd be paying the mortgage if the sale had completed. I'd be more inclined to say you need to give notice yourselves but can't do until it is clear the tenants have vacated.

You never really know what everyone is saying/doing in the house buying and selling process so it doesn't do to get too caught up in some of this stuff.

brassbrass Fri 08-Sep-17 12:43:24

you have to be prepared to call their bluff and be prepared to walk away as someone else mentioned.

Don't be rushed into anything.

Alanna1 Fri 08-Sep-17 12:52:34

Talk to your solicitor, but in principle you could offer a short period (1 day/5 days/7days) between exchange and completion which might make them happier...

Spickle Fri 08-Sep-17 13:37:20

The EA can't bully you into exchanging. Just ensure your solicitor is aware that you want vacant possession and are therefore not in a position to exchange until the tenants have left. This is standard anyway - I am sure your solicitor wouldn't recommend otherwise. If you are renting too, you shouldn't give notice until you have exchanged either, but at least you only need to give one month's notice, so there may be a slight overlap. Once you have exchanged, you can complete as soon as you and the vendor want to, bearing in mind mortgage lenders may need 5 working days to transfer the funds.

5rivers7hills Fri 08-Sep-17 13:43:02

You need to take a bit of a chill pill and be less emotional - it's stupid trying to drop your order for the 'extra rent' you're paying.

The EA can't make you exchange, you can only do that when your solicitirnis happy (ie when the tenants have moved out and all queries answered).

sorenipples Fri 08-Sep-17 15:42:16

Our vendor didn't want to give the tenants notice until we had exchanged, he was so keen on maximising rent. He insisted they would leave in 2 weeks without problem. Despite the vendors solicitor insisting the property was already vacant and the estate agent being "not sure " we held tight and didn't exchange until they left (which took more than two weeks). In the end we exchanged and completed on the same day, which was a mistake as we viewed the property a couple of days before exchange and they then fly tipped in the interim. We were dealing with someone Google suggests to be a known con man though.

There is a point to my rant. It is likely the vendor messing you around, and if he/she is proven unscrupulous be prepared for more surprises.

Afterthestorm Fri 08-Sep-17 15:52:34

A small point but you say the agent shouldn't bully people who are giving him business. You misunderstand, he is acting for the vendors, not you; they pay his/her bill. For all you know the agent is acting fully on the vendors instructions. The agent always gets the blame but quite often it's the vendor telling him what to do/say.

Zampa Fri 08-Sep-17 16:00:23

You could make exchange conditional on vacant possession. Then, if the completion date comes around and the tenants have not moved out, there is no obligation to complete.

Ultimately, be guided by your legal advisers.

We've just moved house and were bullied by the vendor's agents as we were in the house before last. Par for the course, I think.

specialsubject Fri 08-Sep-17 16:03:07

England - tenants do not have to leave on expiry of notice, or indeed on expiry of possession order. They only have to leave when evicted by a bailiff. This takes months.

Do not exchange, you will become the new landlord and you will have to evict them.

Agent speaking from arse.

Anecdoche Fri 08-Sep-17 16:03:56

no way would i proceed until the tenants are out

they may refuse to or be unable to leave and then you have to go to court to get them out.

ignore the estate agent. dont be pressured into making things harder for yourself. the last thing you need is a house it takes you six months to get into.

ScarlettInSpace Fri 08-Sep-17 16:11:57

If the market has dropped and there are plenty of other properties on the street, I think I'd be tempted to cut my losses and pull out. Sounds like this is just going up be a long drawn out nightmare.

Also if you're renting, don't hand your notice in until you've exchanged (even our vendors EA advised us strongly not to chance it and hand our notice in early!) and I wouldn't suggest a 'quick' completion either as you'll be paying Rent & Mortgage for nearly a month. We had 3 weeks built in between exchange & completion so our payment overlap is 10 days, that also gives us plenty of time to clean both places either side of moving.

Nolim Fri 08-Sep-17 16:31:06

Could we report them to a industry standards board when this is all over?

The property ombudsman: www.tpos.co.uk/

SingingSeuss Fri 08-Sep-17 16:35:49

Any way you can talk to landlord direct and explain the situation? When we have moved before this helped massively, but I agree don't exchange until you have seen it vacant!

SandSnakeOfDorne Fri 08-Sep-17 16:43:08

You are in a very strong position here. The market has fallen and no solicitor will agree to their client exchanging while tenants are still in situ. Just call their bluff and say go ahead, put it back on the market. If I were you I'd start looking at other properties. If the tenants don't want to leave this could be a very long process.

inchyrablue Fri 08-Sep-17 16:48:12

You can exchange and then complete really quickly (we've done it same day - not recommended but possible. If you can take the stress, a short gap may ease everyone's concerns.

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