Can Agent increase/add Landlord fees during an existing tenancy?

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    Can Agent increase/add Landlord fees during an existing tenancy?

    Not sure where to start so bare with me...

    I am a non-resident landlord having emigrated to Australia and renting out my family home in UK, I therfore rely on a letting Agent to fully manage my property (within reason).

    As the story goes, I left Agent 1 after numerous issues, then found myself back with Agent 1 when Agent 2 was taken over by them (not my choice). Agent 1 agreed to honour my existing agreement negotiated with Agent 2 - this was mainly an ongoing fixed-rate setup fee, fixed-rate management fee and NO other charges/fees (ie renewal fees etc) unless agreed to beforehand ie gas safety checks, repairs etc. For the past 6 or so years there had been no issues. I currently have long-term tenants (who I'm very happy with) on a fixed term contract, renewed every two years and about to sign up for another two. Rent remains the same so there's been no changes to the tenancy agreement.

    Last month I noticed a charge on my statement and when I queried it, the Agent said it was for 'improved' services, however many of these services do not currently apply to me. Was then told I would need to sign an updated contract with themselves to incorporate the new changes/regulations.

    So my questions...

    1. I never wanted Agent 1 to manage my property but reluctantly stayed since they agreed to honour the terms negotiated with Agent 2. With this in mind can they make me sign a new contract with them or can I refuse?

    2. Fee increases/changes, can Agent legally implement new fees without my prior consent, especially as my existing agreement with Agent 2 stated NO other charges.

    3. Bear in mind I have a long-term tenant already in place, many of the proposed 'improved' services referred to by the Agent do not currently apply to me, can I therefore simply refuse to pay it?

    I am about to argue my point with the Agent so any advice greatly appreciated.

    cheers

    #2
    No they can't do that. Use it as a reason to terminate the contract altogether.
    The fact that they cannot claim various items of cash from the T may be a reason for them to ask to renegotiate the contract but if you are not happy with that new contract you are both free to part ways or keep it as it was.

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      #3
      1 - No one can make you sign a new contract.

      2 - Again, no. You should ask for the overcharge to be corrected and the amounts refunded. To deduct money without your consent is technically a fraud (theft by conversion). Don't expect anyone to be charged with it, but that's what it is. They're your agent and they're obliged to work in your best interest, even when that doesn't coincide with their own. Fat chance of them accepting that either.

      3 - Yes, as above. You may have an issue if the agent decides to end the contract in a huff. They will have details of agreements and deposits (and so on). They will also (hopefully) have been making the right declarations to HMRC on your behalf as a non-resident landlord. Without an agent, your tenant would have to take that task on.
      When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
      Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

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