ripped off by tenants and let down by agent

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  • ripped off by tenants and let down by agent

    Hi, I wonder if anyone can advise me.

    I have had a family on HB renting my property on an AST the last 4 years, through a local small LA, who are not members of ARLA and the like. The tenants were good tenants, looking after the property and paying on time although occasionally they would pay 2 months rent after missing a month. The LA inspected the property once a year, sorted the Gas certificate, and did little else apart from collect the rent and deduct their fee.

    Last September, the relationship broke down and the father (and joint tenant) walked out. The mother (and joint tenant), left with 4 children, did not register change of circumstances with the council, and until I notified the council in December, collected the HB cheques in her husbands name and swore to me that she was trying to change them to her name. Obviously, the HB ceased on my notification of the situation. She showed the cheques to me, so being a softie and inexperienced, and reluctant to evict a mother and her children before Christmas, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. In January she went awol, it turned out she was in hospital with her youngest child.
    By February, I lost patience. In intermittent mobile calls she swore blind she was still trying to sort out her HB including arrears. However,it turned out her children had been taken into care; the cheques she had shown me she had cashed (with her ex-partners help as they were in his name); and she had left the house in an absolute state, dirty nappies, dirty dishes, perishable food and general dirt and grime everywhere. Time to evict her at last.

    And where were the LA in all this? You may well wonder, I certainly did. Apart from allowing two months to go by without rent without contacting me, which I obviously asked them to chase up, they did very little to advise me. They told me thay had sent out a Section 8 in November but they did not explain to me what that was, what to do when it expired etc. I then heard little from them, which is why I started contacting the tenant directly in an effort to get the HB situation sorted.

    I asked the LA to also keep contacting her, and instructed them to send her eviction notices, which they did, issuing her a Section 21in February, which they told me was safer than a Section 8. At this point she was 5 months in arrears, Eventually, as it is clear she has no intention of living there (she is now at her mothers and has been since her daughter left hospital in February) I asked the LA to see her in person and ask her to sign a letter stating that she had no intention of returning to live at my property, which she did 2 weeks ago, having ignored all other efforts to contact her to resolve this. They did this reluctantly, stating that I should just get the costs of a court order added to her arrears, when this woman has no money, and would never be able to pay me back, and obviously has no intention of moving back.

    It turns out that the guarantor details taken by the LA at the beginning of the tenancy are incorrect and worthless, being little more than a character reference by an acquaintance. The LA has just invoiced me for their management fee for the months of the arrears which has left me furious. I feel they have been negligent, they have badly advised me and they want to charge me for this service!

    Can anybody give me any useful advice? I know I have been naive, and i have learnt a hard lesson, is there anything I can salvage from this?

  • #2
    As most posters will tell you "Been there, done that and got the teeshirt" What you are telling us is nothing new.
    The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Paul_f View Post
      As most posters will tell you "Been there, done that and got the teeshirt" What you are telling us is nothing new.
      I agree. jdm1 should wait for Agent to sue, THEN counter-claim on grounds of breach of contract and/or negligence.
      JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
      1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
      2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
      3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
      4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

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      • #4
        Thanks for responses - have just had cheque for tenant's deposit arrive in post from agency - minus their managment fee...Absolutely furious, is there anything I can do?

        Comment


        • #5
          Yes! They are not allowed to deduct any of their (allegedly due) fees from a tenant's deposit which is in fact the tenant's money.

          These agents really take the biscuit! or the piss (oops! sorry!)
          The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

          Comment

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