Advice needed - rogue lettings agent and my elderly Mother

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    Advice needed - rogue lettings agent and my elderly Mother

    Good Evening Landlordzone,

    I am in desperate need of help regarding what to do with an agent I feel has taken advantage of my Mother. The property is located in England. I believe the tenancy started on 06/02/2014. I can't say much more about the agreement as I cannot see it!

    I have lived in Hong Kong for 7 years and just moved back. My mother has two properties that she inherited. One of them is being managed by an agent who is frankly awful. I visited her yesterday and an off hand comment made me ask if I could look through her records. This is what I have found:

    1) Rent is paid in batches months apart. Example is a "statement" in November which contains July, August, and Septembers rents.

    2) Lots of maintenance work is logged but despite this being a gas property, I don't see evidence of annual safety inspections or anything similar.

    3) My Mother has had two tenancies with this guy and he has not protected the deposit either time. He's simply paid my Mother the deposit.

    4) I see no evidence of an EPC for the property or any other documentation.

    This guy is the Son of someone my late Uncle used to work with a long time ago. My Mother thinks he's a great person because he makes her tea whenever she is in the area. I really didn't want to stress her out with how bad this could be until I got some advice. I tried to call the guy twice today and ask him about all these things. He has no office, no website, nothing. He has kept the property let consistently, and sends inspection pictures at random intervals (last two are 14 months apart) but this is nothing compared to all the wrong he's done. I think this is what my Mother thought made him seem legitimate. He also has fancy correspondence like very professional looking statements etc.

    Now here is my main problem. How liable is my Mother for the actions of this guy? All these things he hasn't done like safety inspections and protecting the deposits. I also highly doubt he's provided any of the required information like the EPC and how to let documents etc. I think it's worth noting that my Mother's second property is managed perfectly. Protected deposits, annual inspections etc. So in my mind she isn't acting as a negligent landlord here. Although will the courts see it that way?

    Additionally, I'm pretty certain that my Mother will need to sell one of these properties in the near future. I've just found out with no protected deposit, she cannot evict the tenants without extensive costs. Is this true?

    I acknowledge that my Mother has made a mistake in handing over her property to someone without the required experience, but she really thought she was giving it to a professional, and that's all she needed to do.

    How do I get rid of this landlord? What do I do about the unprotected deposits?

    The gas safety is the major issue and I've already reached out to some engineers and my plan is to get them in the property ASAP. This is the right thing to do, correct?

    Anything else that stands out as something I need to do?


    #2
    Not much you can do about the unprotected deposits now.

    Maybe instruct the other agent to take over running the place?
    To save them chiming in, JPKeates, Theartfullodger, Boletus, Mindthegap, Macromia, Holy Cow & Ted.E.Bear think the opposite of me on almost every subject.

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      #3
      Your mother is liable for her agent, although has the potential to sue them for negligence. I'd visit the property to see what is actually going on there. Find out from the tenant how long they have been there and how long they plan to stay.

      She wont be able to evict without returning the deposit and getting the paperwork in order. You also need to check the condition of the place and whether the maintenance has actually been carried out.

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        #4
        Get a GSC done asap
        Did Agent actually forward rent monthly to mother?
        Check Agent's Contract with mother for release date, poss 3 months.

        Comment


          #5
          That's another thing, there is no contract between them. She literally handed over the keys to him at his Father's house during a social gathering. He's charging 12% + VAT per month. I doubt he even pays the government the VAT.

          I'm not sure exactly where things stand in this case. How do I terminate the agreement with someone there is no real agreement with?

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by RobertSto View Post
            How do I terminate the agreement with someone there is no real agreement with?
            There is clearly an agreement, a service is provided and money paid, but it's not a written agreement.
            You can't terminate the agreement, only your mother can.

            If she wishes to end the agreement, she should write to the agent giving them notice.
            In the absence of an agreement, I would suggest that something like three month's notice is more than reasonable.

            If your mother has retained this person, I'd say the responsibility is hers, not the agents. If the agent is earning enough to be VAT registered, some kind if business exists. And the property is let constantly, which means that some kind of service is being supplied.

            1 - that's unusual but not unheard of. Is your mother declaring the income to HMRC?

            2 - No gas safety inspection would be bad. Properly logged maintenance is good. Many agents provide a gas safety inspection via an insurance service, so a specifici charge may not be noticable.

            3 - A number of agents pass deposits to landlords (I insist mine does, for example). It depends what service has been agreed.

            4 - That's your mother's responsibility, not the agents (although a good agent would at least bring it up).
            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


              #7
              I can not add much to what has been said above but given your mother thinks the sun shines out of this guys...... you get the idea, i think a quiet chat over a cup of tea is in order to get her to understand the real situation, otherwise she will be inclined to fight you all the way in your endeavors to assist her.

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