Tenant not paying and letting agent mismanaged

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    Tenant not paying and letting agent mismanaged

    We rented a flat out with the local branch of a national estate agent. They were charging a very low fee (that should’ve had my alarm bells ringing) and had a tenant immediately available. This was Dec2020/Jan2021 and the tenancy paperwork they sent to me was minimal.

    Tenant moved in but for the first 3 months rent was always late, we received payments but had to keep contacting the agency repeatedly, but this was put down to admin issues.

    Around the 4th month I got a call from the estate agent head office saying that they’ve taken back the franchise as the franchise owner was up to something dodgy (I suspect they were receiving rent through a different bank account without paying their franchise fees).

    Since head office have taken over I’ve received just one maybe two rental payments and the tenant has stopped paying. The head office of the agency issued a section 21 as that was the quickest way to get the tenants out.

    We’re currently owed circa £6-7,000 and in light of the minimal tenancy paperwork I think we’ll have a hard time retrieving this from the tenant.

    The section 21 expired 10 days ago and I’m waiting on their property report which has been promised by the agency but still hasn’t arrived.

    Do you think I can claim against the agency ? They’ve clearly had a dodgy franchisee who took on the tenant and I suspect that they didn’t do the necessary background checks on the tenant.

    #2
    Ok before you even consider what the agent did or did not do you need to get a handle on exactly what the tenancy says, if the s21 was valid and what the intentions of YOUR tenant are, you need them out asap, a lot of agents are utterly useless, are you located far away from the property and is that why you have used an agent to manage it ? I would be looking to take charge of this and get my own specialist in to start to evict them, you could be waiting for ever for the agent who will have far more important (aka better bets at making money) than you are.

    Comment


      #3
      Why "in light of the minimal tenancy paperwork" do you think you will have a difficult time retrieving the money owed from the tenant?

      As above, check the Section 21 is valid, see link to flow chart below. If the Section 21 is valid and the tenant is still in the property then it is time to apply to the court. If the Section 21 is not valid then consider going down the Section 8 Ground 8 route of more than 2 months rent is owed. Use a specialist to help with the eviction process if you're not sure what you are doing?

      https://nearlylegal.co.uk/section-21-flowchart/

      Then once you've dealt with that you can start dealing with the letting agent. That will mean making a complaint via the letting agency's complaints process and escalating to whichever redress scheme the agent is registered with if you are unsatisfied with the response from the letting agency.

      Comment


        #4
        Paperwork shouldn't be an issue in claiming unpaid rent.
        Unpaid rent is usually easy to prove - the tenant's paid some and has obviously been renting something.

        The issue is usually that the tenant doesn't have the money they owe.

        The lack of agent and paperwork will make eviction difficult though - find some professional help.
        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
          Serve (yourself) s8 for arrears today.

          Sounds like in addition to agent lack-of-perfection the Tenant hasn't heard the message.

          Can we assume you'll provide no reference or only a full, honest one, and will instruct agent to do likewise?

          Have you formally gone through agent complaints process?
          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


            #6
            If you suspect that the agency(s) are in part responsible for the tenant not paying rent, you would need to set out your case to them in a formal complaint. If you don't get satisfaction, the next step would be to escalate the complaint to whichever redress schemes they belong to. I have to say though that it sounds like a tough case to prove.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Beeble View Post
              Since head office have taken over I’ve received just one maybe two rental payments and the tenant has stopped paying.
              Are you sure about that? Maybe the tenant is still paying rent but 'head office' are not passing it on to you?

              Have you spoken to your tenant at all to get their side of the story?
              And they are your tenant, unless you have entered into a let-to-let contract with the agency which is a whole different ball game.

              'Head office' may be just as lax/dodgy as they allege that their franchisee was.
              And you only seem to have the word of 'Head office' about that anyway.

              It would seem a bit harsh to evict a tenant due to errors of the agents involved. The agents that you appointed don't forget.

              Plus if the tenant can show that they have been paying rent to the agent then your problem is with your appointed agent not passing it on to you, and any S8 served on the tenant for arrears should be rejected.

              Comment


                #8
                It must be nice to be sufficiently well off that a tenant not paying rent wasn't sufficiently serious to prompt action a few days after it's due.

                Other than Christmas and if they tell me that someone key is going to be away for a holiday, I'd be calling my agent to find out what's gone wrong within a week.
                It would never get to a month without me knowing what was going on.
                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


                  #9
                  Thanks for the comments and advice so far.

                  To answer a few questions, the reason I thought we may have difficulty in chasing the tenant is that if the original agent didn’t do any checks then the tenant could disappear with no method of tracing them. This is just a suspicion of mine as when I queried this with head office they said they ‘will have copies of referencing’ etc. That means they’re relying on the original franchisee to have done that, so there’s a chance it may not have been done.

                  To answer another point, it’s possible that head office have received rent and due to some administrative error have failed to pass it on, although it seems unlikely they as they would’ve had to do it regularly over several months.

                  The flow chart is interesting as it suggests the Section 21 issued is invalid. (But it seems to suggest that it’s invalid in most cases.) I took the advice of the rental agency head office who issued this notice so they will have to take responsibility if it was issued in error.

                  I’ll be making a complaint to the agents at some point, and chasing the tenant for the rent but I’ll prioritise getting the property back in my control first.

                  There are mentions above of getting a ‘specialist’ involved, what type of specialists are these ? Any that you can recommend ?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
                    It must be nice to be sufficiently well off that a tenant not paying rent wasn't sufficiently serious to prompt action a few days after it's due.

                    Other than Christmas and if they tell me that someone key is going to be away for a holiday, I'd be calling my agent to find out what's gone wrong within a week.
                    It would never get to a month without me knowing what was going on.
                    I was chasing the letting agents throughout but the tenant eventually stopped responding to them. That was around the time Section 21 rules changed so the agency were able to issue the notice.

                    Unfortunately if the tenant is refusing to pay, the only option is the long-winded legal route, and all the while the debt keeps increasing.


                    Comment


                      #11
                      Has s8 been served? I'd also serve s21 as many tenants leave when that expires (even if invalid). Very cheap options for the price of a stamp.
                      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


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Beeble View Post
                        I was chasing the letting agents throughout but the tenant eventually stopped responding to them. That was around the time Section 21 rules changed so the agency were able to issue the notice.

                        Unfortunately if the tenant is refusing to pay, the only option is the long-winded legal route, and all the while the debt keeps increasing.
                        If the section 21 notice is invalid, it's not going to get your property back.

                        Section 21 notices are difficult to get right, particularly if the start of the let wasn't done properly or was done by someone else.

                        I'd find a local eviction specialist (the forum rules don't allow recommendations) and start again.
                        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
                          You can use tracing agents to track down tenants that vanish whilst owing money.

                          Just a thought, when head office took over did they update the bank details for rent payment? Is it possible the tenant is paying the rent to the original franchise’s bank account?

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Beeble View Post
                            (But it seems to suggest that it’s invalid in most cases.)
                            That is because you have to do things properly for S21 to be valid.

                            Do everything properly and the S21 is valid.
                            Get one thing wrong and it is invalid. There are many things to get right.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I hate to say it but you used an agent, you should expect things to go wrong. 99 times out of 10 peoples problems on here is the agent isn't doing X and I have to do it as the landlord. Thats why I don't use them, they simply don't care and usually most landlords learn the hard way.

                              I've been managing my own properties for a while and once you get to know the tenants its much easier to figure out who is trying it on and who isn't. anf of course i get a call out maybe once every 6 months and save myself 10% revenue.

                              I'll never go back to agents, but hopefully you got your situation sorted and as before don't expect them to help with the debt chasing or if they do they will give you the cash referral from their mate down the road who will usually do a shody service . But most landlords are easily taken for a ride then they pop up on here and we have to guide them out of the mess.

                              Anyway such is life best of the best hope it gets sorted for you

                              Comment

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