Suing agent vs landlord vs property developer

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    Suing agent vs landlord vs property developer

    Hi everyone,

    I'm looking for advice on the correct method of suing for misrepresentation.

    I was recently a tenant in a new build. The tenancy was between me and the landlord's company domiciled overseas. The property was marketed and managed by a local letting agent.

    Prior to entering into the contract, I viewed the property 3 times. Each time, the agent was joined by the same sales representative from the property development company. Both the agent and the developer appeared to act in concert and addressed all of my queries together. I thought it was odd at the time but decided to progress nevertheless.

    Unfortunately, they made a number of misrepresentations to induce me to transact. The building turned out to be in mid-stages of development, with construction work all over and amenities out of service for the duration of my short tenancy. Extreme care was taken to conceal the extent of the works and the whole site resembled a Potemkin village each time that I viewed it.

    Long story short - with assistance from a solicitor, I managed to get the agent to agree to an early termination.

    The misrepresentation was documented in my due diligence correspondence, so I later filed a complaint with a property redress scheme, who ruled in my favour and instructed the agent to pay compensation.

    I believe the level of the compensation is too low and disproportionate to the magnitude of the issue, and I am now considering taking the agent to court.

    Having read through this forum, I understand that my legal recourse is to the landlord as my contractual counterparty, and not the agent. Therefore, the agent cannot be sued. That said, the correspondence submitted by the agent as a defence for my complaint proves that his relationship with the developer was unusually tight, with all matters closely coordinated (including, the early termination). In addition, I got hold of the legal opinion prepared for him by an external counsel. Bizarrely, it makes no mention of my alleged inability to sue him. Not that it would make a difference when presenting my case in court.

    This makes me wonder if the circumstances would allow me to sue the agent together with the developer? Suing the landlord would probably make no sense given the overseas domicile.

    Welcome your thoughts.

    #2
    You may sue agent or landlord. Good for you getting redress scheme judgement, take the money but "under protest" in writing.

    Good luck suing your landlord, the overseas company. Unless you have a contract with any UK based human (eg director ) can't see how you could go after a human.
    I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

    Comment


      #3
      I would talk to your solicitor.
      Getting a court to overturn the decision of the property redress scheme might be difficult.

      The appropriate escalation route would seem to be the property ombudsman if you are not happy with the redress scheme's outcome.

      I would have expected the redress scheme to have given reasons for its decision and award.
      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).

      Comment


        #4
        I'm afraid there are some incorrect inferences here. Firstly, the ombudsman's decision has no bearing on the court while they may take into account. In this case, the PRS has ruled in favour which adds to the strength of the case. The awards made by redress schemes are typically small. The agent is registered with either PRS or TPO not both - looks like PRS in this case and therefore, TPO (The Property Ombudsman) will have no say in this.

        You can certainly serve the company overseas but please look into CPR 6 which might allow you to 'serve' the agent (you will still sue the landlord) or you can apply to court to dispense with the service 6.15 or alternative method (email etc) Service of the claim form relating to a contract on an agent of a principal who is out of the jurisdiction


        6.12


        (1) The court may, on application, permit a claim form relating to a contract to be served on the defendant’s agent where –


        (a) the defendant is out of the jurisdiction;


        (b) the contract to which the claim relates was entered into within the jurisdiction with or through the defendant's agent; and


        (c) at the time of the application either the agent’s authority has not been terminated or the agent is still in business relations with the defendant.


        (2) An application under this rule –


        (a) must be supported by evidence setting out –


        (i) details of the contract and that it was entered into within the jurisdiction or through an agent who is within the jurisdiction;


        (ii) that the principal for whom the agent is acting was, at the time the contract was entered into and is at the time of the application, out of the jurisdiction; and


        (iii) why service out of the jurisdiction cannot be effected; and


        (b) may be made without notice.


        (3) An order under this rule must state the period within which the defendant must respond to the particulars of claim.


        (4) Where the court makes an order under this rule –


        (a) a copy of the application notice and the order must be served with the claim form on the agent; and


        (b) unless the court orders otherwise, the claimant must send to the defendant a copy of the application notice, the order and the claim form.


        (5) This rule does not exclude the court’s power under rule 6.15 (service by an alternative method or at an alternative place).

        Comment


          #5
          Thank you all for your reponses, they are of great help.

          So far, we have established that:

          1) I cannot sue the agent but I can sue the landlord
          2) I can look to serve the agent because the landlord is out of jurisdiction

          To clarify my concerns, do you think I will have legal standing to sue the landlord if I accept the PRS compensation offer (under protest)? PRS told me over the phone that this would waive my right to sue the agent (but made no mention of the landlord). TPO (who are not involved in this particular matter but have the same objective) state on their website that they would "expect successful claimants to refrain from legal action". Both schemes are 100% agent focused, so I would imagine nothing stands in the way for me to sue the landlord on top of accepting the PRS resolution?

          Comment


            #6
            If you accept the offer from PRS, which is the alternative dispute resolution, you’ll forfeit your option to take the matter to the court

            Comment


              #7
              Quite frankly, without knowing what losses you incurred and what you have been offered, hard to advise you one way or the other.
              It looks like you have come to a compromise with the matter by getting out of tenancy so why don’t you accept what you’ve been offered and move on? Mistakes happen...

              Comment


                #8
                The OP may wish to investigate the remedies available under consumer protection law as both the agent and landlord are defined as Traders and the OP is a consumer. Misleading actions, unfair commercial practices etc are prohibited...

                Comment

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