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Help please! To get out of signed tenancy agreement

(27 Posts)
Lysianthus Mon 02-Dec-19 07:42:05

I’ll try and keep this short but I’m hoping someone can set my mind at rest.
One month ago I saw a flat for rent via Gumtree and viewed it via the Estate agent selling it. The prospective LL asked me to provide a cover story as he hadn’t told them about the possibility of renting, not selling.
Once I’d seen it, I said I would take it and then began the problems.
The LL is abroad, and gave me no contact details other than a hotmail address. I submitted my reference and ID, and asked for their number to WhatsApp but still nothing.
They then provided a tenancy agreement in draft format and it didn’t contain a UK address (other than the property address) and that didn’t sit well as the L&T act requires a service address in the UK, one which is not the rental address. I pointed this out but LL was adamant and was pushing me to sign, he also said that on signature (PDF of the agreement which I did electronically) I would receive his bank details. At this point he threatened to move on with another tenant if I didn’t sign immediately and this had the effect of making me sign much against my (now) better judgment. Six days later I had still not received any details, and worried that he had also said I wouldn’t be able to register for council tax, I decided it was too much of a risk and told him I’m I was not to going to proceed. In the meantime I had also asked for another viewing and was told categorically that no one views a rental property twice! There were many other red flags but this was bizarre. And still no bank details.
Yesterday, six days after being told I would have bank details, he responded to my withdrawal email with threats of court action if I don’t pay. And still no bank details.
Am I correct in thinking that without the payment (consideration) the contract is unenforceable? And there’s the issue of no service address in the UK, no ability to register for Council tax and possibility that the building society hasn’t agreed to this tenancy either (adding this in for good measure as I have done a LR search and there is a Building Society on the register). Needless to say the prospect of either potentially losing money if the property isn’t really for rent, or having to deal with an absent LL who won’t let me have contact details, is worrying me.
I’m in a bit of a stew over this and would really appreciate some advice. I will try Shelter’s online chat but I know they are overwhelmed at this time of year.
Thanks for reading this far.

Spacerader Mon 02-Dec-19 07:45:39

I’d forget about it and move on. I feel like he is trying to scare you in to handing over money and his threats are empty.

bluejelly Mon 02-Dec-19 08:25:50

He sounds well dodgy. Try the Citizens Advice Bureau for advice.

wowfudge Mon 02-Dec-19 09:00:33

You still don't have his bank details to pay a deposit and the rent? How does he think he can enforce this? Have you actually had a tenancy agreement sign by him or the agent on his behalf? He's lying to the mortgage company and others that he is living at the address when he clearly isn't. Forget it, block him and move on.

Gillian1980 Mon 02-Dec-19 09:51:47

He sounds dodgy. I don’t think he would pursue you if you just blocked him and moved on.

Poissonpoison Mon 02-Dec-19 09:54:17

Are you sure he actually owns the property? It sounds very dodgy!

Hoppinggreen Mon 02-Dec-19 09:56:23

I imagine once he had your deposit you would never hear from him again and wouldn’t have anywhere to live!!

OrangeZog Mon 02-Dec-19 09:58:44

I imagine once he had your deposit you would never hear from him again and wouldn’t have anywhere to live!!

Completely agree with this.

Lysianthus Mon 02-Dec-19 10:03:21

I did check the land registry and his name is on the deeds. However I guess he could have just made up a yahoo address.....
My worry is that if he is who he says he is, i have signed the contract (though paid nothing yet - I can’t, no bank details) and could he realistically sue me? At this point I want out but equally have to find somewhere to live now with short notice, and I can’t afford to be held responsible for two sets of deposits, rent etc..... thanks for your advice everyone.

wowfudge Mon 02-Dec-19 10:14:54

Do you have his bank details? As I posted earlier, how can he enforce this if he hasn't provided you with a means of paying anything? Just walk away. He won't come after you, he'll just be making threats.

Alanna1 Mon 02-Dec-19 10:17:53

Shelter have a housing advice line - you could try them for specific advice (& if you can afford too make a donation to them and the work they do)

bluestar997 Mon 02-Dec-19 10:20:53

My friend went to view a property found through Gumtree and then paid the deposit. The 'landlord' disappeared with no trace and he didnt get his money back. It turned out property didnt belong to who ever was posing as the landlord.
It's very suspicious that you cant view it again - maybe this person doeant have access to it anymore! I wouldn't pay any money it sounds like a con to me.

Needmoresleep Mon 02-Dec-19 10:21:34

Land registry fraud happens. When BTL landlords move house they often forget to update the Land Registry with their contact details for rental properties. Ditto if someone moves into a care home. It is then relatively easy to intercept mail and get your name on the deeds.

I would speak to the agent who showed you the property and who thinks he is selling it. Even if it is not fraud, he will know the owner and his "quirks" and presumably won't be too happy to have a property on his books that is not for sale. At the very minimum you need a LL who has appointed a UK letting agent or similar to manage the property.

Binting Mon 02-Dec-19 10:31:50

I think it's a scam. As others have said - go and talk to the estate agent dealing with the sale. The real owner needs to know what's going on in their name.

Binting Mon 02-Dec-19 10:32:36

Please tell me you haven't handed lots of personal info to this person?

FAQs Mon 02-Dec-19 10:36:14

Talk to the estates agent, is the agent a real estate agent. Otherwise Scam!

mencken Mon 02-Dec-19 11:01:32

IF he is the landlord... (how do you know - as @needmoresleep says property fraud happens) it is fairly obvious what is going on - he wants a tenant in there paying the mortgage until he sells, without telling the agent or the mortgage company. The 'don't go on the council tax' is the clue to this. And you knew that - I guess this is London but you really did walk into this.

now, if you do move in and pay rent you'll create a tenancy regardless of the agreement. He'll then have to evict you to sell, which he won't be able to do for at least six months and not at all unless he's ticked all the legals which you can read on how to rent. (including giving you how to rent).

alert the agent. Do not send money even if details provided. Tell the landlord again that you are not proceeding and then block. He won't sue.

and next time, however desperate you are (London?) don't get involved with obvious crooks.

Needmoresleep Mon 02-Dec-19 11:14:18

Has he provided you will a right to rent leaflet for tenants? Does the contract say that the deposit will be held in a recognise scheme. Has he shown you a copy of a current Gas Safe Certificate. Has he asked to see your passport to verify your right to live in the UK?

The Council tax is another red flag. You are responsible for this and so would be committing fraud if the Council ever found out.

If none of these, he is on a hiding to nothing if he tries to take you to court. If not a Land Registry scam he is almost certainly breaching money laundering regulations. If the estate agent confirms he is real, you might google money laundering and HMRC fraud and put the LLs name down anonymously as a potential fraudster/tax evader. And perhaps inform the Council Tax people in the Local Authority to boot.

And don't move in.

Lysianthus Mon 02-Dec-19 11:46:07

Thanks all. I am going to ask him unwind the transaction using the Consumer Protection régulations and @needmoresleep your advice re the right to rent leaflet is great (answer ‘no’).
Really appreciate your help. I had a gut feeling but then felt pressurised and because no money changed hands it didn’t feel so bad but clearly even if it did turn out to be above board, I don’t want to be stuck with this sort of LL.
Is it too early for a gin?!
Thanks again.

mencken Mon 02-Dec-19 12:36:55

please read the 'how to rent' leaflet. The cocked-up legislation means a decent landlord cannot give it you until move-in day, but also needs a signature that you have been given it. But it is available online and details your rights.

bad landlords play on ill-informed tenants. There is no landlord enforcement and never will be (no money) so the way to get rid of them is not to rent from them and to get informed. Good luck with the house hunt!

RockinHippy Mon 02-Dec-19 12:42:32

This sounds very much like a scam that's happened locally to us. Even to the extent of one woman having a couple of young students turn up on her doorstep thinking they were moving in to her not up fir rental family home. I'd report it

notthemum Mon 02-Dec-19 13:17:07

He is a scammer.
Hopefully you haven't given him any personal details. Report him. Block him.
Move on.
Of course it's not too early for a gin.

PlanBea Mon 02-Dec-19 21:23:58

Sounds like he is pretending to own a property he's seen for sale on Rightmove. Hence the "don't mention to the estate agent" bit and all the red flags flying about.
Did you send him lots of personal details (dob, bank details, address history etc?)

Wingedharpy Mon 02-Dec-19 22:28:49

What ID have you submitted to him?

Lysianthus Tue 03-Dec-19 21:04:17

@PlanBea the land registry shows he is the owner which is why this is so weird. I’ve submitted a statement telling him i am exercising my right to unwind the agreement. I’ve now taken legal advice and it seems that as he still has not given me any bank details I can withdraw.

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