Agent has now let on AST starting in five months- ouch!

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    Agent has now let on AST starting in five months- ouch!

    My useless agency has signed an AST for a year with a tenant for 5 months time without consulting me. I am not sure if this is usual practice or if anyone else has come across such a case.

    When I managed the property myself I always signed the first suitable tenant that would take the property immediately and it was never unoccupied for longer than 2-3 months.

    Aside from the fact that I can't really afford an empty property for 5 months, to make matters worse I have decided to sell this property and the (prospective) tenants are threatening to sue for breach of contract. The agent has offered them their deposit back and other similar properties, but to no avail; a strange position since they have 5 months to find another property. (The house is nice but surely not unique?)

    Does anyone know if I can legally cancel the contract or serve notice before the contract actually begins...

    Thanks in advance.

    #2
    Do you and your agent have written terms of business?

    Firstly consult any written terms with the agent.
    • Did you give them carte blanche to find you a tenant?
    • Has the tenant paid not only a deposit but any rent?
    • Can you give the date when the AST is to start?
    • Has the agent stated in his terms with the tenant that negotiations are "subject to contract"?
    • Were you asked to sign the AST yourself as landlord?
    • If not does the agent have your authority to do so on your behalf?
    • Have you asked the agent to pay you rent out of their own pocket until the AST begins?
    • Does the tenant have the keys?


    I need to know a lot more first before I can offer any decent advice.
    The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks for your reply Paul,

      In answer,yes I do have a contract with the agency that states "The agent will...negotiate and agree with your approval the terms of the letting"

      The tenant has paid a deposit only, their AST was signed on 10th February and is due to start on the 1st July, it makes no mention of "subject to contract". It is between the Agent on behalf of myself and the prospective tenants who have both signed (I have not signed) and states that it is "intended to create an AST."

      The agent has had the property since November 2004 and made no lettings during this period nor paid me any rent. I have had the keys returned to me but they have warned me the situation is serious and I could be sued.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by gregh
        "The agent will...negotiate and agree with your approval the terms of the letting".
        As the agent didn't obtain your prior approval then you should take action against him now, citing failure of their duty of care towards you. Put your complaint in writing stating the obvious. You could reasonably ask him to stump up the same rent as a basis for compensation from when the AST was signed until the tenant takes up occupation.

        As the agent signed the AST on your behalf it's as though you had signed it so it's legally binding, BUT the agent is more than likely in breach of your terms of business with them if they didn't have your authority to sign it on your behalf. If they are members of one of the three main professional bodies then once you have exausted their internal complaint procedures you could make a formal complaint to the one to which they belong!
        The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks Paul, that's useful advice.

          I take it there is no way I can legally cancel the AST contract before the contract period begins in July ?

          I was thinking that there may be a limit on how far in advance such a contract can be made. I presume a section 21 notice cannot be served prior to the start date and therefore I would need to evict 6 months after July 1st.

          Comment

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