Agent did not inform me of CCJs against former tenant- who left owing rent

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    Agent did not inform me of CCJs against former tenant- who left owing rent

    Hi there

    I wonder if I can pick the brains of people more expert than myself re the above.

    Basically I had a tenant who was in my property for 3 years from early 2010. The agent charged me for a rent collection service the first year (a percentage of the rent) and obviously undertook references. Following the first year I removed the rent collection and had it on a let only basis for them for the 2nd (for an additional fee) and then it went onto a periodic aftet the end of the AST.

    Whilst I received the rent from the agent during the first year- it was sometimes a few days late. However for the first 15 or so months after I dispensed with the rent colleciton the rent was paid on time, however after this the rent was not paid and only paid in instalments when I chased. Upon the tenant giving me notice to leave, there was still 3 months outstanding which I managed to get down to about 1.5 months by the time he left. He then had the cheek to ask for the deposit back which after going to TDS I was awarded.

    When I contacted the letting agent for the references I was horrified to find that the tenant had an unsatisfied CCJ for almost 4k, 7 months before the tenancy started. Yet I was not told about this.

    Without the benefit of hindsight I can clearly say I would not have taken him on had I been told about the CCJ- as I was clear about the type of tenant I was looking for.

    The letting agent accepts that I should have been told about the CCJ and has apologised. It then goes on to say how it has changed its dealings over the issue since that time to the extent of getting something signed by the landlord if there are outstanding CCJs. However it is not willing to provide me with a refund of the initial fee it took for the rent collection and letting. Given I am still out of pocket which would have not been the case as I wouldnt have taken the tenant on board and it has failed to provide me with an adequate basic service- should I be entitled to pursue it for a refund (either in full or a proportion)? Or am I being unreasonable?

    If the view is that I am entitled can you let me know any relevent case law or prescedent which could support me as I dont want to take the matter to a small claims court.

    #2
    Your agent has a common law duty of care to inform you of anything that might alter your 'transaction decision' under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, (I think you would be considered to be a consumer in this instance) and as you say you would not have accepted such a tenant.

    Non-disclosure of such information would IMO be a breach of such regulations and is a criminal offence if convicted in a magistrates court or high court, but that would not benefit you, and would be expensive to pursue. You could use it to just put the frighteners on him as he is probably unaware of this anyway.

    You could inform the agent that if you suffer any financial loss such as rent or court costs, then you will be looking to him for compensation, and possible court action through the County Courts (this you would have to do despite what you say) if you are able to quantify any financial shortfall. Send the agent a detailed analysis. Also if you were to find a delay in regaining possession this could be a consideration for possible further financial loss.

    There will be no case law as this is only for cases held in a higher court.

    This agent needs a kick up the proverbial.
    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 Paul for the prompt response. The bottom line is that I was left out of pocket to the tune of the o/s rent which amounted to just under 700 pounds (even after taking into account the deposit which I was awarded). On top of this my former tenant has left owing all the utilities, council tax and several other bodies including 02 1k (how you can run this up on a mobile I don't get!). I was only aware of this after he left with the vast amount of letters I have been chased up on- and still continue to receive.

      I accept that the return of the initial fees amounted to more than this (it was over a thousand) so should I just ask it to meet my shortfall in rent (or provide this and an amount in relation to the D&I I will suffer (including poor credit for the property)?

      Comment


        #4
        On top of this my former tenant has left owing all the utilities, council tax and several other bodies including 02 1k (how you can run this up on a mobile I don't get!). I was only aware of this after he left with the vast amount of letters I have been chased up on- and still continue to receive.
        You don't have to be concerned about this as you are not the consumer of such utilities, unless of course you failed to transfer them into the tenant's name, or if this was the agent's responsibility which they failed to do then you should look to them..

        Credit ratings have nothing to do with the property, so you shouldn't suffer.
        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 for this. I thought that was the case but when it comes to getting money you never know. When I contacted the utilities they told me that the tenant had informed them that he had left 2 actual months before he did officially go. He claimed that his cousin was residing there and that he was leaving. As such I am not sure to whom the utilities would be contacting for their shortfall- the gas bill amounted to several hundreds - luckily the electricity was by pre-payment key.

          So in answer to my question do I ask the agent to meet the outstanding shortfall in rent- or say I will take them to a small claims court for their breach of the Unfair Trading Regulations 2008

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Del_Boy View Post
            So in answer to my question do I ask the agent to meet the outstanding shortfall in rent- or say I will take them to a small claims court for their breach of the Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
            The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations is beyond your remit unless you want to take out a private prosecution at considerable expense, when you will need a solicitor at least and possibly a barrister. You need to go via the County Court if the agent fails to reach an agreement with you for any losses you have incurred howsoever arising.
            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


              #7
              A problem in making a claim may be that the tenant paid more or less on time for the first two and a quarter years. You granted him the second tenancy because you considered him reliable based on his conduct during the first year. Once the rent started to be paid late it was in your hands to take action to cut you losses. How much rent are you actually down?

              Comment


                #8
                At the end of the day as I said when he gave me notice it was 3000, however by the time he left I had cut it down by half. However as he left 5 days after the commencement of a new month it was down to approx 700 that was owed.

                As I said previously the agent collected it for a year (and often paid me several days late). I accept there was 15 months or so where the rent was paid on time after this.

                But surely ultimately the fact is that I have been prejudiced despite this. Had I not taken on the tenant which I wouldn't have in light of the CCJ's despite paying mostly on time I wouldn't be left in the position of his not paying towards the end of the contract. This error was done to the letting agent in not passing on the information to me.

                Comment


                  #9
                  I think it probably has to come down to a question of degree. If the tenant had been a bad payer from the start and had left after a few months owing thousands you would have a much clearer case. Equally, if the tenancy had lasted, say, five years and the tenant had always paid on time until the very end the failure to disclose the CCJ would have to be said to be pretty irrelevant. The point is that having a CCJ is not an absolute indicator that someone will at some stage not pay rent any more than not having one guarantees that the rent will be paid. It more or less has to be the case that if a tenant pays his rent on time for long enough the agent has to be deemed to have found a good paying tenant.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    But surely it was remiss of it not to inform me of the CCJ- I can honestly say that had I known of it and the degree of it (£4k) then I wouldn't have taken on that tenant- irrespective of whether he paid rent on time or not for over 2 years.

                    I had other interested parties and the house had only been on the market for 3 weeks at that time so it wasnt like I was desperate.

                    Comment

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