Rights as a tenant? LL/Agency allow themselves access

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    Rights as a tenant? LL/Agency allow themselves access

    We have been in our flat for two years, and are ending our tenancy in 12 months. On the whole, the agency has been okay at coming to the property for repairs/inspections (emails 24 hours in advance), but when it comes to viewings they're absolutely terrible.

    When we viewed the flat two years ago, they did not seek permission from the tenant, and another flat we were shown the tenant was getting dressed, and clearly had no idea we were coming! We have talked to neighbours who have had multiple viewings and property agents show up at their door completely unannounced, and last year we had the same (we did not let them in).

    When we're in it's not so much a problem, but when we're out the property agents would just let themselves in (which I know is illegal!) We're also not allowed to change our locks, so there's that issue.

    They know they're supposed to give us 24 hours for viewings, but they just don't seem to care. We have very expensive bikes and cycling equipment, along with laptops and personal possessions in the flat, and the thought of strangers walking around our flat without us there and without our permission is horrible. It's also as we now know, against the law!

    Furthermore, the staff turnover at the agents is so high, that whoever we email about this will be gone in a few months, and the issue will continue. We've been through at least 4 property agents in the past 2 years who have suddenly stopped working there.

    How do we let them know that we are aware of our rights and that they should respect us as tenants? Thanks!

    #2
    What makes you think you can't change the locks, or one lock?

    Easy and cheap to do for a nightlatch. Just replace the lock when you leave.

    Why are there any viewings? There is no [legal] requirement for a Tenant to give Notice that they intend to leave before or upon expiry of the lease. If you want no viewings, you are in an AST - NOT an SPT or CPT - and you are going to leave upon expiry of the lease then just let the Agent know two days before you leave and return the keys. I would take photos of the condition of the empty property bwfore you leave.
    There is always scope for misinterpretation.

    If my posts can be interpreted in two ways, one that makes you feel angry and one that doesn't, I meant the latter.

    Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks for replying!

      They wrote into our tenancy agreement: "not to fit any lock in the Property and in particular not to fit any lock to any of the bedroom doors or change any lock in the Property or have additional keys made for any locks without prior consent". Otherwise, we would do it straight away.

      They have viewings because they assume that if we don't renew our tenancy for another year, then they can just show people around to find new tenants. We have to tell them by December if we're renewing, which means months of possible viewings!

      Any other advice would be greatly appreciated, we feel a little stuck and mistreated by our LL/property agents!

      Comment


        #4
        Don't be bullied by the agent.

        Regarding the locks. If you change the locks, they can only find out by trying to let themselves in without your knowing (and they're not allowed to do that). So any complaint about the locks shoots them in the foot.
        Locks are quite easy to change (after the first time's learning), so you could easily switch them back and forth, leaving the agent with a bit of an issue.

        Worst possible case, they'd have to either to sue you for breach of contract or try and serve notice based on that breach. Neither of those things are likely to be successful.

        If you have a 12 month fixed term until next year, the agent can't make you tell them your intentions in December (that's ludicrous), or you can simply lie to them and them "change your mind".

        If they want to charge you for your decision, I'd tell them you're planning to wait in case the fees they're planning to charge are made illegal.
        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


          #5
          Whole heartedly agree with the above.

          That clause is unenforceable and they can only demonstrate your breach by admitting a breach on their part.

          You are under no legal obligation to inform the Landlord or their Agents whether you are staying after the expiry of the lease or leaving prior to the expiry of the lease. You're also under no legal obligation to sign a new lease. Agents make money of you and the landlord when signing a new contract but there is no legal requirement to do so. A 'Statutory Periodic Tenancy' arises by law automatically if you stay in occupation past the expiy of the lease. You still need to pay rent! The tenancy agreement may also include for a 'Contractural Periodic Tenancy' to arise instead of an SPT. Eitherway, there's no need to 'resign'.

          Morally, it is decent to let someone know but if you know they are not going to act decently in response - ie unannounced viewings - then I wouldn't bother.

          I'd quote the last paragraph of JPK's post above. If they persist, then say to them 'I just want to check a couple of things on Landlordzone'. If they have half a brain (doubtful) then they'll leave you alone.

          The majority of Letting Agents know squat about 'Letting Law', in the same way the majority of Estate Agents know squat about construction. They are all second hand car salesmen who's only interest is to make money.
          There is always scope for misinterpretation.

          If my posts can be interpreted in two ways, one that makes you feel angry and one that doesn't, I meant the latter.

          Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by mk1fan View Post

            That clause is unenforceable
            Not quite.

            I can think of two instances when it might be enforceable:
            1. Tenant agrees to the agent/LL visiting and forgets to put the original locks back.
            2. Tenant vacates without putting original lock back or giving LL/agent keys for the new lock.
            Case 1: S8 ground;
            Case 2: deposit claim.

            Comment


              #7
              In the OPs situation a 'S8' claim would be pointless as they are leaving.

              As for not returning keys, if you're stupid enough not to return the keys then it is perfectly reasonable to claim for their replacement of the deposit.

              Eitherway the LL or Agent would need to go to Court. The T then has the defense that the LL or Agent would undertake unannouced visits, interfering with the T's 'Quiet Enjoyment' of the property.
              There is always scope for misinterpretation.

              If my posts can be interpreted in two ways, one that makes you feel angry and one that doesn't, I meant the latter.

              Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.

              Comment


                #8
                So, if our 12-month contract finishes in July, when would we need to tell them that we are not planning on extending the lease? They tend to take the approach of if we don't tell them we're renewing, they assume we're leaving and start showing people around ASAP (and without our permission). Would you all simply recommend telling them nothing (and reminding them we know our rights), but if necessary, telling them that we intend to extend and then say we changed our minds nearer the end of our tenancy?

                They also employ the tactic of raising our rent if we don't renew before December. That way they can find out as soon as possible if we're staying. I don't mind showing new tenants around on certain days and certain times, but I feel as though if we gave them the opportunity they would abuse it. Living on eggshells in case a stranger knocks on our door to look around at any time is not an acceptable way to live.

                Honestly, it's exhausting, and it's getting to the point where I can't wait to be done with them.

                Comment


                  #9
                  So you have renewed this month a 12-month contract up to July 2019 but will be leaving upon or before expiry.

                  Irregardless of any notice from you the Agent is going to start viewings circa May 2019.

                  If you don't give notice to the Agent by December 2018, they are going to increase your rent. From when? Jan 2019? I don't see how they can do that mid-tenancy. Have they explained how they intend to do this?

                  Assuming the first two paragraphs are true then I would give them notice during April 2019. As part of this notice I would set out your requirements for viewings. I would add that should these not be followed on any occasion then you will not provide access. Then change the locks / one lock. If they respond with the [duff] clause in the tenancy, I would reply that they are interfering with your quiet enjoyment of the property. As such, if they persist, you will be placing the matter in the hands of your solicitor.
                  There is always scope for misinterpretation.

                  If my posts can be interpreted in two ways, one that makes you feel angry and one that doesn't, I meant the latter.

                  Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    If you plan to leave in July 2019 and the agent's behaviour is as unpleasant as you outline, I simply wouldn't give the agent notice, nor would I confirm whether I was staying or not.

                    I would change the locks and write confirming that if they enter the property without your consent again, you will put the matters into the hands of a solicitor.

                    If you want a less stressful year, you might consider speaking to a local solicitor - most local firms will spend a short period for no cost listening to your situation, so that they can a) advise what they can do and b) give you some idea of what that might cost. There's a considerable weight to a strongly worded solicitors letter. Moreover, a local agent won't like a letter from a local solicitor. It might be a hundred quid or so well spent.

                    If you have a 12 month tenancy agreement in place, the agent (/landlord) will find it difficult to do anything in response, because you aren't breaking the tenancy agreement.

                    That said, that would be a considerable escalation of the situation, which simply changing the locks and possibly threatening legal action will only do to a lesser degree.
                    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
                      You are normally under no obligation to tell the Agent your intentions while in a fixed term tenancy, whatever they tell you to the contrary. You can leave on or before the last day of the fixed term without prior notice unless the tenancy agreement says/implies that a Contractual Periodic Tenancy will arise. If you stay beyond the fixed term then you will be in some form of periodic tenancy and have to give one months notice expiring at the end of a rent period.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by lydia_ View Post
                        They have viewings because they assume that if we don't renew our tenancy for another year, then they can just show people around to find new tenants. We have to tell them by December if we're renewing, which means months of possible viewings!
                        So they’re advertising and showing a property that they have no idea will be available for let or when? They sound like a bunch of idiots.

                        As others have said, change the locks. It puts the agent in the position of having to stop their behaviour or admit to you that they’ve been trying to come in without notice.


                        Comment


                          #13
                          Ah but let me ask one question.
                          Is this a student area ?

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Still a little premature, but I was horrified to find that my daughter and her friends were looking for somewhere for the following July in about November.
                            I asked "What if the current tenant decides not to leave and the Letting agent has to go to court?" Apparently this NEVER happens.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Logical.Lean,

                              Sadly it is. Even though we're in our 20's I assume they think that they can do whatever they please, and that we don't know any wiser. As far as I'm aware we still have the same rights as all other tenants.

                              Comment

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