Landlord wants to bypass his own agents

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    Landlord wants to bypass his own agents

    I found and rented a flat via an agent, but now I have come to renegotiate the lease, the landlord is encouraging me to bypass the agent and deal with him directly.

    The bottom line is, it is a shared house and I want to leave but the others are staying. The agent sent us a letter explaining the procedure and warned us that the replacement tenant would have to pay an "admin" fee. I mentioned this to the landlord, and he is encouraging us to ignore the agent and to deal directly with him. Presumably this is so that he can avoid a renewal fee.

    The agents are quite intimidating with their legal-speak and insistence on “correct procedure” so my question is, if my replacement tenant signs a contract directly with the landlord and the agents are not informed (ie, they still have me listed on their contract), can they still hold me liable if anything goes wrong?

    #2
    Your contract (Letting Agreement) is with L, not with L's Agent A.
    So L is perfectly free (so far as you're concerned) to deal direct with you on a renewal. Ignore A for these purposes.
    Did you have an individual fixed-term AST in your sole name? Has it now expired?
    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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      #3
      I suspect this is just the agent trying to mislead you into thinking that you must go through it to renew your tenancy with the LL. They often do this so they can charge you (the T) an unnecessary fee.

      You do not. As Jeffrey says, your (legal) relationship is with the LL.

      If you sign a new contract with the LL, or agree that the fixed term can "roll over" into a periodic monthly tenancy, that's fine, you don't owe any obligations to the agent.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by philozz View Post
        The bottom line is, it is a shared house and I want to leave but the others are staying. The agent sent us a letter explaining the procedure and warned us that the replacement tenant would have to pay an "admin" fee. I mentioned this to the landlord, and he is encouraging us to ignore the agent and to deal directly with him. Presumably this is so that he can avoid a renewal fee.
        So, you have a joint [assured shorthold?] tenancy with other tenants on the same agreement?

        You talk of a 'renewal', but what exactly do you mean?

        Has the fixed term expired, and have you given a month's notice to end the tenancy? If so, then the joint tenancy would end when you left at the end of the notice. The remaining tenants+new tenant would have to sign an entirely new contract with the landlord - not a renewal.

        If the fixed term has not expired, then the current contract would either have to be amended to assign your place to the new tenant or it would have to be ended by a deed of surrender (after which the remaining tenants+new tenant would sign a new contract). Again, not a renewal.

        if my replacement tenant signs a contract directly with the landlord and the agents are not informed (ie, they still have me listed on their contract), can they still hold me liable if anything goes wrong?
        As already explained by Jeffrey and Dominic, you have no contract with the agent and your liability is only to the landlord. The agent is merely a middle-man acting on behalf of the landlord, and taking instructions from him.

        What is important is to make sure that the current tenancy is either correctly assigned, or properly ended before a new contract is signed. After that - and assuming you move out - your liability ends.

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks for all your advice. It sounds as though the agent has been misleading me in other respects as well. Our fixed term ends in August and I was advised that in order for me to leave either all of us in the house had to hand in our notice and leave, or I would have to find a replacement housemate.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by philozz View Post
            Our fixed term ends in August and I was advised that in order for me to leave either all of us in the house had to hand in our notice and leave, or I would have to find a replacement housemate.
            If you leave on the last day of the fixed term, your rental liability ends there, and that particular joint tenancy ends. You don't have to find a replacement tenant.

            The remaining tenants+new tenant would then have to sign a new agreement with the LL.

            Assuming this is an assured shorthold tenancy, in England/Wales, rent less than £2,083.33 per month, then if you stay even one day beyond the end of the fixed term, the tenancy would become a statutory periodic tenancy, and statutory notice periods would apply.

            Comment


              #7
              p.s. Note that, if the tenancy began on, say 15th August 2009 and the term is 12 months, then the last day of the tenancy would be 14th August 2010.

              Apologies if this is stating the obvious, but I mention it as there is often confusion on this point; posters regularly think 12 months would be 15th August 2009 - 15th August 2010.

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