Backdating rent as per TA "proposed start date"?

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    Backdating rent as per TA "proposed start date"?

    My partner and I paid a "pre-contract reservation fee" on a rental property to enable us to put our offer of interest with the letting agent (a local agency, "award winning" too).

    On 21/04 we received an email confirming our offer and selection to be tenants for the property, with a proposed start date of 05/05 (14 days later).

    We have yet to sign any paperwork, but did have to pay around £400 to cover admin and credit check fees, using a 3rd party company that they work with. As my partner's guarantor is a non-EU citizen, after several calls and emails I had to make, I was told that the letting agent would need proof of my partner's guarantor's income, this was on 3rd May.

    When I quizzed the letting agent about the delay, and whether or not the tenancy agreement date would be moved forward, I was told no: "I'm not being harsh, but it's not the landlord's fault that there is a delay in the paperwork, why should they be left out of pocket?"

    Despite knowing from the initial date of our application to become tenants (17th April) that my partner's guarantor was a non-EU citizen whose income was not within the UK, they neglected to mention that the 3rd party credit check company wouldn't be able to perform their check on him, and as such, would need other documentation to be submitted to them (the letting agent to go over with the landlord).

    They suggested I put my things in storage and the earliest possible date we can move in is Tuesday 8th May, where I will go to the property and meet the landlord, getting the keys.

    I still have yet to sign any Tenancy Agreement.

    If I am to sign one when I move in, do they have any right to force me to sign if it states the TA date commences as per the "proposed start date" of the 5th?

    It all sounds a little off to me.

    Yup, most (not all by any means) letting agents operate in a similar mode to drug dealers and other scam artists with bait and switch and other sharp practices. Unfortunately government policies are making it harder and harder for common garden type of landlords to avoid these middle-men who scam both landlords and tenants alike.

    If you need a guarantor, no sensible landlord would accept a non-UK-based guarantor with outside income (does this person own a house in the UK without a mortgage?). They probably have half a dozen other tenants on the hook who have paid £400 for the same cut-down heroin.

    No they cannot force you to sign a retrospective tenancy agreement that requests rent before you agree. Your option will be to sue to get your £400 back -- you will probably win but it will be a faff. Did you sign any form of agreement as to the purpose of the money you paid, and the relevant timescales? If not then why not?

    Next time try finding properties managed and advertised by landlords directly (e.g. via Upad).

    Accepting extortionate credit checking fees (whether they are paid by landlord or tenant) where it is obvious that the tenant will not be accepted based on information already supplied is basically fraud, but they have to make a living. The purpose of a "credit check" should be to verify information you have already supplied, and if that information proves to be correct/verified, then they should have to offer you a tenancy starting at a pre-stated date, or give your money back. That is what the government should have implemented in a formal way instead of all the waffle about banning fees to tenants (which simply means that those same fees are paid via a different route).


      Award for what? Ripping punters off?

      Such fees have been illegal since at least 1984 in Scotland. Come in England, catch up!
      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...


        It's not the fees so much; they had to be paid after I received the email and phone call telling me that we'd been selected as tenants, something I do not doubt.

        It is more the fact that the letting agent seems adamant that the tenancy start date will in effect commence from before I move in.

        I am supposed to meet with the landlord as part of the next step to get the keys... which seems a bit hasty considering I have yet to sign a tenancy agreement or pay my 6 weeks security deposit (they have yet to a) give it to me to sign b) request the cash.

        Before I sign any agreement I will be explaining to whichever party is there, that the date on the agreement is the date I am signing, not the X amount of days in the past that they seem to think we have agreed to.

        I merely wonder what legality there is to what they are proposing, and whether there is any UK law or article code I can remind them of.

        CAB don't open at weekends, so I was unable to call them for advice.


          No there won't be any law - you just walk away. Tenants are obviously allowed to take a property and pay rent starting at a day before they move in - and that is not uncommon to secure a place where there is competition.

          Why do you seem so sure that you will be granted a tenancy? If the real reason for the delay is that they are not sure about your financial status, there is plenty of opportunity for them to say no in the meanwhile.....

          How exactly will the landlord sue this offshore expat guarantor if and when he needs to?

          The whole thing sounds bizarre - why would they have "selected you as tenants" - and then want to carry out checks after the fact of such selection. The offshore guarantors income is going to be pretty much irrelevant - so there must be something else going on. Update us when you find out...

          As an aside -- tenancy agreements do not have to be signed -- so if they call you and say you have tenancy from XXX, and you say yes I accept -- then you have a tenancy agreement. Proving that fact may be difficult, as might proving any terms that were agreed - but there is nothing magical about signing that makes it the only way to create and agreement.


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