Can a letting agent rescind offer of a property after contract has been signed?

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    Can a letting agent rescind offer of a property after contract has been signed?

    I am a postgraduate university student, and my partner and I were looking for a place to live for the duration of our masters degree. Eventually we settled on a flat after meeting with a letting agent and having a viewing.

    We both signed a tenancy agreement and paid deposits to the tune of £800, and thought everything was taken care of. This was in late June/early July and we were due to move in September.

    However, a few days ago my partner was sent an email stating: "Unfortunately the tenants that were meant to move out of your apartment are no longer moving out. They are staying on. We are finding it difficult to locate another 2 bedroom apartment. We do have a 2 bed in [another building] at the same price."

    My partner and I were both set on living in the first apartment we were offered. And currently my partner is staying in another country which would make viewing new properties difficult. I looked at images of the new place offered online and honestly it seems inferior. We have asked for more information but they haven't replied to our email.

    I'm here to ask for advice:
    could they offer us a property without knowing if the previous tenant is staying on?
    If the previous tenant's contract was up before we signed our contract, doesn't that mean we should be the ones staying there?
    Does them rescinding the offer mean a breach of our agreement and should we get the deposit back?

    #2
    The landlord would have to evict the previous tenant to house you - that is an expensive process and takes a long time, therefore even if the landlord would do it it wouldnt help you. However have you passed referencing and did your landlord also sign the contract? It sounds as though your landlord is now liable to pay you all the costs associated with you finding another property of the same standard at the same price. You dont want to have to sue them over this so it is in both your interests that they find you another property and you should phone them as well as email and arrnage to view the property they have offered. If a court considered they had offered you suitable alternative accommodation and you had refused it they wouldnt award you anything.

    You'll have to find another place, either through that agent or another. You'll get your deposit back but whether you get anything over and above that depends on exactly what was signed. Shelter are an excellent source of advice and you can show them what you signed.

    Comment


      #3
      If you've signed a tenancy agreement for a property and paid a deposit, you've almost certainly got a binding contract (with whoever is shown as landlord, rather than, their representative, the agent - although the agent could be the landlord).

      So the agent, rather than you, have the problem.

      I'd point out that they are about to be in breach of contract and you expect them to provide what they've agreed.
      The tenant's not moving out is none of your concern, and they should have sorted that out before advertising the property and re-letting it.

      That will at least let them know where you stand.

      On a practical level, you could offer to let them put you up in a hotel while they resolve the issues with the other tenant or locate other accommodation.
      The fundamental problem may be that they don't have another property to let you have , which makes you right but with nowhere to live.
      The key is to make it clear that this is their problem and you're not going to be fobbed off with an email.

      And, of course, you should get your deposit back (plus any other costs you incur) as a consequence of the breach of contract.
      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
        and what if the landlord is a private individual and not an agency ?
        does the tenant have any comeback ?
        tenant does not have a copy of the agreement btw but does have a receipt for the deposit stating in respect of tenancy of.......

        Comment


          #5
          It doesn't make any difference who or what the landlord is, it's the landlord who's in breach of contract, not the agent (unless they are one and the same). The landlord made the agreement with the tenant(s), even if they did it via the agent as proxy.

          The agent may try and use the fact that the landlord hasn't signed the contract as a reason it's not complete. This is made possible by your lack of a copy*. This isn't how contracts work, though and you should probably suggest that they take legal advice if they do suggest that. That's normally the quickest way of getting them to realise the problem they have.

          You should be entitled to compensation for any loss arising out of the landlord's breach of contract (which you have to keep to a minimum, no 5* hotels!), unless the landlord provides an alternative that you accept in lieu.


          *always make your own copy of any agreement you sign or insist on being given a copy before leaving.
          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


            #6
            The above advice may well be the correct legal position, but in the real world your best bet will be to get your money back and move on.

            The landlord could argue that this is frustration of contract.

            Comment


              #7
              thx for your replies guys
              I agree with your sentiments Hants Agent bu why frustration of contract ?

              Comment


                #8
                A previous tenant refusing to leave is certainly not ground to frustrate the contract.

                Frustration is (obviously) quite restricted to extreme cases, for example if the property burns down.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Thanks for your replies everyone.

                  As I understand it, the letting agent *is* the landlord. They signed the contract with us, and we have an electronic copy. Apparently they had a lot more people staying on from previous contracts than they realised in a number of properties. So it seems like a big oversight on their part. Does it it make a difference whether the agent is the landlord?

                  Also I have agreed to view a new place that I have been offered that would apparently cost the same in rent. If I think that the property is inferior (size, location etc) to the previous one, can I negotiate a lower rent? And what will happen to my previous contract?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by jjlandlord View Post
                    A previous tenant refusing to leave is certainly not ground to frustrate the contract.

                    Frustration is (obviously) quite restricted to extreme cases, for example if the property burns down.
                    I never said they'd win, but they might use it as a "drop this and go away" tactic.

                    The OP is a student, is he really likely to pursue this through the courts? They'll be banking that you won't.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by HantsAgent View Post
                      I never said they'd win, but they might use it as a "drop this and go away" tactic.
                      They can use anything as a tactic. The point is that landlord cannot claim that the contract is frustrated.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        The landlord can claim whatever he likes, a court may decide otherwise.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by HantsAgent View Post
                          The landlord can claim whatever he likes, a court may decide otherwise.
                          As said, frustration is very specific.

                          Agents get a bad name because of this sort of tactics.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
                            The agent may try and use the fact that the landlord hasn't signed the contract as a reason it's not complete.
                            Can you expand on that please.
                            My understanding has been that it isn't binding until signed. In the past, I have frequently sent unsigned tenancy agreements to potential tenants to give them good time to read through and seek advice if required.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Signature is not required to create a contract.

                              If you want the agreement to be "subject to contract" you must be very careful and clear.

                              Comment

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