Can I sue my letting agents (breach of contract)?

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    Can I sue my letting agents (breach of contract)?

    I rented my house out via a well known letting agency, the tenant they selected, enrolled their daughter at the local school. After a few months the rent was no longer being paid and the tenants were acting in an aggressive manner towards my wife and kids outside the school. I then discovered the tenants were not who I understood them to be, in actual fact he was a known violent criminal, I passed this information on to the letting agents and suggested to them that they contact the Police on the basis of fraud. However they did nothing, I contacted the Police myself,they visited the letting agents, spoke to the agent (who had met the tenant), immediately after this meeting (within a couple of hours) the tenant allegedly went in to the letting agents and paid the rent up to date. the Police said they could not proceed with the fraud because the rent had been brought up to date even although they had investigated the matter and the person whose name was on the lease said he did not sign it. The agents did not take photographic id, in fact it would appear they didn't even cross check the signatures on the lease as there are 3 different signatures which should be the same. However the agents are denying any wrongdoing. what I want to know really is, do i have good valid grounds to sue them? is there anyone who has experience of this type of situation? any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

    #2
    What does the agency agreement you have with your agent say about their duties, or limitation of liability?

    Is your agent registered with a recognised body, such as ARLA?

    I disagree that there is nothing to investigate in terms of a criminal matter. Just because the rent has been paid, does not mean that no fraud has been committed. If the T obtained favourable terms on the tenancy by dishonestly making false representations about his criminal history, then yes, there is a reasonable suspicion of criminal fraud. The police are just being lazy, and probably have a stack of litter dropping and speeding ticket offences to get through to bump up their crime figures.

    Comment


      #3
      Also, T may fall foul of ground 17 in Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988*- giving you as L a ground for possession.

      *= inserted by 1996 Act, as from 28 February 1997.

      17. The tenant is the person, or one of the persons, to whom the tenancy was granted and the landlord was induced to grant the tenancy by a false statement made knowingly or recklessly by:
      (a) the tenant, or
      (b) a person acting at the tenant’s instigation.]
      JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
      1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
      2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
      3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
      4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

      Comment


        #4
        when you say sue - sue for what? Cash? Possession? For the hell of it?

        Comment


          #5
          Dominic, thanks for your input its much appreciated. the agreement i had with the letting agent was for a full management service, the most relevant text within the duties and responsibilities section is as follows:-
          1. arrange viewings, accompanied if appropriate, with prospective applicants for tenancy.
          2. receive applications and having obtained references- where possible with rent guarantee submit the same with recommendation to client for instructions as to whether the property should be let to a particular applicant.

          what i know is that the tenants presented themselves to the agents as an unmarried couple co-habiting, however they were actually a married couple with one of them using a false name. The letting agent carried out referencing only on the male in the relationship via "Homelet" and the lease itself is a "Homelet" document, however this document clearly states an onus on the agent to ensure that the person signing the lease is who he/ she says they are. Homelet offer a rent guarantee to me via the agent and this agreement although thier terms have to be met and in this case the letting agent failed to carry out the correct checks as laid down by Homelet, mainly because they did not take any photographic I.D (a requirement of Homelet) and did not ensure the person signing the lease was who he said he was.

          The agent I have used is registered with ARLA and NALS but I am a bit concerned that these organisations may only be businesses set up purely with an eye on making money and therefore more loyal to their paying members than the general public.

          As regards the Police, their view was that because the rent was paid up to date and there was therefore no financial loss, the case would be thrown out by the fiscal. What was more concerning was the fact that the tenant had found out that the Police were involved to begin with, because the only way the could have known and brought the rent up to date within a couple of hours would have been if someone told them and this is what made the situation worse. So who do we think told them?

          The Police also commented that they were concerned about the behavior of the agent and the way the rent was immediately brought up to date, they said they felt the agent was being dishonest and obstructive.

          Comment


            #6
            thanks for your input fthl, the reason i want to sue is for compensation for professional negligence, my family suffered stress and financial loss.

            Comment


              #7
              ok. in order to sue for compensation you need to show that you have incurred a loss and you'll need to evidence this.

              what is your loss and how will you prove this?

              compensation for stress can be recovered but the sums are often quite nominal. Perhaps enough to buy the family a clap up meal. Unless you can point to some sort of injury you'll want to bring this in contract. If you are business (for eg a ltd co) then you'll struggle.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by fthl View Post
                ok. in order to sue for compensation you need to show that you have incurred a loss and you'll need to evidence this.

                what is your loss and how will you prove this?

                compensation for stress can be recovered but the sums are often quite nominal. Perhaps enough to buy the family a clap up meal. Unless you can point to some sort of injury you'll want to bring this in contract. If you are business (for eg a ltd co) then you'll struggle.

                thanks fthl, I have incurred losses and I will have no trouble demonstrating this, my records and receipts in relation to this matter are all in good order, I also have the option of going to the press and exposing the letting agents.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Money Laundering Regulations




                  Does anyone know whether or not money laundering regulations apply to letting agents?

                  My letting agent has told me that they don't apply on 2 grounds 1) they don't apply to letting agents but do apply to estate agents. 2) The total amount of the rental for the term of the lease or monthly payment is less than the figure required for money laundering regs.

                  DOES ANYONE KNOW THE LAW ON THIS?

                  WHAT IF THE LETTING AGENT IS ALSO AN ESTATE AGENT?


                  Help Greatfully Appreciated!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Letting Agents are Estate Agents as far as the law is concerned, letting is just one function of an estate agent. All Estate Agents are bound by the Money Laundering Regulations 2007, and transactions should be conducted on a 'risk-based' assessment.
                    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


                      #11
                      Thanks Paul, thats very helpful. You say "risk based" assessment, how would that apply in terms of renting a property at £750 per month? should money laundering rules come into play? is there any minimum financial transaction limits which would come in to play?

                      Comment


                        #12
                        The MLRs are concerned with cash transactions in excess of 15,000 Euros when you must report it to the SOCA. It's only when sources of money cannot be traced, it might come under the MLRs. There's probably nothing to worry about here.

                        Risk based assessment means you have to decide whether you think the transaction might be fraudulent or involve say ill gotten gains even if it's below the compulsory limit; in other words if you are suspicious of anything then report it. You should not make the person about whom you are sending the report, aware that you have done so as it's a criminal offence.

                        Look up the MLRs on the internet and you can find out all you need to.
                        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


                          #13
                          Hi Paul, thanks very much for those comments, very helpful!

                          I note that when a client instructs a lawyer to act on his / her behalf in relation to any matter, they require photographic ID because of the MLRs, the value of the transaction does not seem come into the equation. If lawyers are required to do this as a standard procedure by law, does this also apply to letting agents or is there a reason letting agents would be excluded from this?

                          What standard ID should be taken from a prospective Tenant when letting a property?

                          Comment


                            #14
                            It's still a risk based assessment and if you want to eliminate any risk (as far as you can) then everybody is required to provide I.D. It's called "know your client". You should carry out the same checks such as residence during the last 3 years, utility bill in last 3 months, evidence of previous tenancy, a reference from that landlord, CCJs, oh! it's endless. See tenant referencing on the home page for more info.
                            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


                              #15
                              thanks Paul!

                              can you think of a situation where a prospective tenant would not need to provide "photographic ID" ?

                              Comment

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