6 months rent, deposit and holding deposit in advance without first signing contract

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    6 months rent, deposit and holding deposit in advance without first signing contract

    I'm asking on behalf of my friend whos feeling really skeptical over a property she recently viewed. She viewed the property and paid a holding deposit of £205 but now the agent is emailing her for £5400 (6 months rent in advance) and £900 as a deposit through a bank transfer without her having even signed a tenancy agreement let alone having her read it. I've told her the practice is normal but don't send the money until you've signed the contract or at the very least have received it and read through it... Is
    ​​​​Is she right be to feel skeptical? Should she just send the money and read/sign the contract after payment or should she walk away from this deal now and forfeit her £205 holding deposit?

    Thank you

    #2
    She should ask agent for name of landlord, spend £3 with land registry to get deeds which has name and address of owner, and see if they names match .

    Plus get a draft of contract.

    Sadly there are crooks and cheats and thanks the government to be a lettings agent in England requires no training, no qualifications, no criminal records check so (apologies for alarm) she could be dealing, entirely legally, with an office staffed with ex-cons on early release from Brixton jail from sentences for GBH and fraud. Honestly!

    Other countries do things better. Come on England!

    Artful, Landlord since 2000
    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...

    Comment


      #3
      Check they are registered with a recognised industry body such as this one;

      https://www.propertymark.co.uk/find-an-expert.html

      Incidentally, I don't give out signed tenancy agreements until I've received cleared funds, a scammer probably would as they've got little to lose.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by theartfullodger View Post
        She should ask agent for name of landlord, spend £3 with land registry to get deeds which has name and address of owner, and see if they names match .

        Plus get a draft of contract.

        Sadly there are crooks and cheats and thanks the government to be a lettings agent in England requires no training, no qualifications, no criminal records check so (apologies for alarm) she could be dealing, entirely legally, with an office staffed with ex-cons on early release from Brixton jail from sentences for GBH and fraud. Honestly!

        Other countries do things better. Come on England!

        Artful, Landlord since 2000
        Thank you Artful & You're right. She can't send over 6k to an agency without having at a minimum draft of the tendency agreement that she can read through before making the commitment

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by boletus View Post
          Check they are registered with a recognised industry body such as this one;

          https://www.propertymark.co.uk/find-an-expert.html

          Incidentally, I don't give out signed tenancy agreements until I've received cleared funds, a scammer probably would as they've got little to lose.
          Thanks for your response and I understand not giving a tenancy agreement without clearing the funds puts the agent as risk but I feel it's reasonable to ask to read though it before sending funds and signing it once the funds have cleared

          Comment


            #6
            I'm going to close this post now as I've received the information I need, thank you again everyone

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by boletus View Post
              Incidentally, I don't give out signed tenancy agreements until I've received cleared funds, a scammer probably would as they've got little to lose.
              Really? I don't request anything other than a one week holding deposit before all paperwork has been completed.
              Assume I know nothing.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Hooper View Post
                Really?
                Sure, I sign it on handover of the property. As the landlord, why would I do it any differently?

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by boletus View Post

                  Sure, I sign it on handover of the property. As the landlord, why would I do it any differently?
                  I've simply never considered asking for all funds before having a signed contract in place. Contract states when funds are due (before commencement) so if they are not received I don't give access (obviously!). I have always assumed that it would seem rather suspicious to tenants to request funds before any contract is in place.
                  Assume I know nothing.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Unless you're a conman, asking for money other than a holding deposit to be paid without a signed tenancy agreement is stupid.
                    The chances are that a contract is formed by the messages back and forward and the payment and all of the terms of the agreement aren't in place.

                    And I'd advise the tenant not to pay in this situation.
                    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
                      If they refuse to send a draft tenancy agreement I would have thought that is grounds in and of itself to have the holding deposit returned in full, so I cannot see why you would lose it. You may need to go to court though to achieve that but you will win.

                      Of course you would pay nothing (not even a holding deposit) until you have seen what a tenancy agreement would look like.

                      However as Boletus says no sensible landlord these days would sign a finalised tenancy agreement until (at the very least) the deposit and first month of rent is received "at the same time". That tenancy agreement would state that the first month of rent and deposit have been received so by definition cannot be signed until that takes place.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        The mechanics of providing the tenancy agreement are tricky.

                        If you provide the prospective tenant with a completed contract for them to sign, it doesn't require the landlord to countersign it to create a contract. Unless there's a specific term to that effect that is brought to the prospective tenants attention (and they should ideally initial it).

                        So you can give them a draft agreement with the key elements missing to review before agreeing to proceed.

                        If the plan is to take payment before the agreement is signed, the tenant may be concerned that the landlord will do a runner and if the agreement is signed before payment, the landlord may be concerned that the tenant won't pay.

                        If the agreement is signed before the rent and deposit are received, again there should be something in the agreement that says that the contract is only effective once the money has been received, otherwise the landlord can unilaterally cancel it.

                        Nowadays money transfers are usually pretty quick, so there can be a short wait while the money moves.
                        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


                          #13
                          Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
                          The mechanics of providing the tenancy agreement are tricky.
                          Mine all have every page watermarked saying draft contract pending agreement.

                          Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
                          Nowadays money transfers are usually pretty quick, so there can be a short wait while the money moves.
                          Exactly. While they are standing in front of you. Or if it is in advance of their arrival then the correspondence makes it clear that payment of the first month of rent and deposit based on the finalised AST is to be considered the equivalent of signing that agreement. Better than any wet or digital signature.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post
                            Mine all have every page watermarked saying draft contract pending agreement.
                            ...Exactly. While they are standing in front of you. Or if it is in advance of their arrival then the correspondence makes it clear that payment of the first month of rent and deposit based on the finalised AST is to be considered the equivalent of signing that agreement. Better than any wet or digital signature.
                            Yep.
                            The old ways are the best, non of this electronic nonsense (other than the bank transfer which I have to say is better than it was).

                            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


                              #15
                              There is a difference between issuing a signed tenancy agreement and giving the tenant a draft for comment though and it sounds as though even the latter hasn't happened in this case.

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