Going to the Ombudsman for negligent letting agent- anyone been through this?

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    Going to the Ombudsman for negligent letting agent- anyone been through this?

    I've been battling with letting agents over issues regarding tenants that have now thankfully gone however left a huge amount of damage in their wake which the letting agents never reported.

    We paid the full management fee each month and for this they were supposed to be undertaking regular inspections, however on gaining access to the property we found obvious damages including a broken back door window, seriously stained carpets, broken dado rails, overgrown garden and very poor re-decorating work.

    I understand that agents aren't allowed to interrupt the tenants' 'quiet enjoyment' of the property on inspections but these dilapidations were pretty obvious. I have voiced this to them and asked them to compensate us for the amount of time it has taken to put this right however they have denied any responsibility and said they will not be compensating us.

    I have photographs of all damages, I understand the tenants are responsible for causing the damage but surely I can get some compensation as the agents were negligent in their inspections? Has anyone got any experience on submitting a complaint via the ombudsman?

    Thanks!

    Becca

    #2
    1st get copies of all documents from agents, in particular in/out inventory & photos, inspection reports & their correspondence with tenant.

    Do you have copies of the terms & conditions you agreed with agent? I don't mean the tenancy agreement.

    This wasn't one of those guaranteed rent schemes/scams was it?
    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
      Your case is against the tenants and not the letting agency. The tenants could have refused entry to the LA or the damage could have been caused just before they left. As long as you have an inventory before and after, you should be able to claim damages from the tenants.

      Comment


        #4
        If the tenants caused the damage, then you should be pursuing them.
        I don't think the ombudsman would have the scope to award you a sum of money from the agents that you have not tried to pursue elsewhere.
        Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

        Comment


          #5
          I know the tenants allowed the agents entry as the agents wrote to me every 3 months informing me the property was 'being kept in good condition', so I have proof there as well as photographs that I have taken and the agents'. As such when we got the property back, we thought it would be fine to let straight away, however it actually took us 3 months to get it back into a good state of repair, and have as such lost out on this rental income. The ex-tenants have also said they reported things like blocked toilets a broken shower and broken garage door which weren't referred to us (although this could be one word against the other…).

          I have the inventory too which says that everything was left in a state basically (although this is also down the tenants as we had to evict them). Obviously the tenant is liable for the damages and the cost of cleaning up after them, but the agent was responsible for reporting dilapidations, which they didnt and cost us more time and money.

          I've searched for the letting agreement with the agents but can't find this, although they aren't making any reference to this anyway at the moment. Wasn't a guaranteed rent scheme/scam, they are a well established letting agent and we used them for several years until all this!

          Comment


            #6
            If the tenants kept the property as they were supposed to, then I think it would be fair to say you would have no loss to chase.
            Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

            Comment


              #7
              Sorry but if you had to evict the tenants, it is more than likely they caused the damage in the last 3 months.

              Comment


                #8
                We evicted the tenants because of rent arrears, not because they were unruly.

                I know the tenants didn’t cause all of the damage in the last 3 months, as the broken window was reported over a year ago, however the agents told me that the tenants would repair this themselves. I assumed this had been done as I heard no more about it and continued to receive reports that the property was in good condition, however upon gaining entry to the property found it had not been repaired or reported to me in the 12 months that ensued, which suggests to me that the other damages had been there longer than 3 months and the agents definition of 'good' condition was not adequate.

                Comment


                  #9
                  given my experience with the legal ombudsman I would not think you will be successful but it is worth a try!
                  Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me

                  Comment


                    #10
                    If you don't have an agreement with the agents, unless they have a code of conduct that they are meant to adhere to,
                    against what standard have they been negligent?

                    What steps did you take to monitor their performance against your expectation / agreement?

                    If they reported that the property was in good condition, you may have a case purely for that.
                    If they allowed tenants to repair a window themselves, you might have a case for that.
                    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


                      #11
                      To get to the ombudsman you have to first fail to resolve your complaint with the agent.
                      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


                        #12
                        Originally posted by becca_p123 View Post
                        I know the tenants didn’t cause all of the damage in the last 3 months, as the broken window was reported over a year ago, however the agents told me that the tenants would repair this themselves. I assumed this had been done as I heard no more about it and continued to receive reports that the property was in good condition, however upon gaining entry to the property found it had not been repaired or reported to me in the 12 months that ensued, which suggests to me that the other damages had been there longer than 3 months and the agents definition of 'good' condition was not adequate.
                        Ah, who watches the Watchers?

                        You have been burned through intending to maintain a completely hands-off approach to your investment. Never a good idea in my mind. Pick yourself up and move on... ensure this Agent is fired... get another one if you really need to and try to show at least some interest in your pretty big investment. You can tell from the other responses that no-one thinks you will get a good outcome from your plan. Your piece of evidence appears to be the window - but you just assumed it had been done, without checking properly (even just written confirmation it had) and the other damage could have happened at any time, yes, it might suggest to you that other damage had been there longer than 3 months, but there is no evidence and people like to work on evidence, not supposition and accusation. Chase the Tenants for the damage and leave the [poor] Letting Agent alone to continue bumbling through their life.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I have of course fired this agent and am now managing the property myself.

                          I understand what you're saying, however having been told the property was in good condition on multiple occasions, yes I assumed it had been done and all windows were intact. How silly of me.

                          I did not have a 'hands off' approach and was in fact in regular communication with the agents on other matters, however as a first time landlord thought it sensible to instruct an agent to manage it fully. I have of course learned my lesson and am now managing it myself, however I paid for a service which was not fulfilled.

                          Other than the window, which of course I realise is not evidence that the other damages were there throughout, it is evident that the carpets were stained beyond repair (beyond reasonable wear and tear) and the garden (which was in their contract to maintain) was overgrown and these must have occurred over some months and not just the final three (although I think the final inspection was conducted a month before they moved out). Of course I realise now I should have been more involved and I'm not holding the agents responsible for the damage, however I paid for a service which included regular inspections as I was inexperienced (I inherited the property in case you are wondering how I got into this game) and they did not fulfil this adequately in my opinion.

                          Thanks for you feedback though, it's useful laying it all out here to get all my thoughts in line and figure out where I stand better!

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by becca_p123 View Post
                            I have of course learned my lesson and am now managing it myself, however I paid for a service which was not fulfilled.
                            Sadly, there is evidence to suggest that many Landlords who employ Agents feel this way. I think my advice to you would be to concentrate on your management of the property going forwards... there's plenty to do in an effort to make it go without a hitch. While I would, personally, like to see some Agents receive their comeuppance, I figure it's actually quite unlikely and it will be a lot of angst (for you) in the meantime, while they can just stonewall and prevaricate, frustrating you even further. If there was any kind of path to an offer - goodwill, compensation etc. - from the Agent, then I would take it and run. It's good to fight the good fight but - truly - they're not going to learn anything. You've learned your lesson about [your] Letting Agent[s] nice and early... that's not a terrible thing to happen. Best of luck.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by becca_p123 View Post
                              Thanks for you feedback though, it's useful laying it all out here to get all my thoughts in line and figure out where I stand better!
                              Having re-read the first post, I think that one thing you could do is change your approach with the agents.

                              What you should probably be looking for is a return of the fees that you paid them for which they have not performed as they should have.
                              Taking your (very good) point about carpets and gardens taking some time to fall into disrepair, why not write to them and ask them to explain the discrepancy between the state that they were reporting and what must have been the actual state. Were they actually doing anything to support their positive reports?
                              Allowing the tenant to repair a window is not "good practice", and you might ask them specifically why they took that approach and why they didn't tell you about it.

                              You are buying a management "service" from the agent and they have to use "reasonable care and skill" in supplying that service, and, from the sounds of things, were not doing so.

                              Composing a letter asking these questions in this way might be therapeutic, you can ask for them to repay your fees and not rule out a claim for consequential damage (which is the actual mess the tenants left).
                              If you feel really strongly about it, most solicitors will take your points and make them sound legal and slightly threatening (and on their headed paper) for a price.
                              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

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