Advice Please: Letting agent problem

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  • Advice Please: Letting agent problem

    Hi, Having recently returned from working abroad for a year, I set about looking for a new place to live (in North London), having given up my previous rental property after over 7 years. I had a loan of a flat from a friend for a month in order to give me plenty of time to find somewhere, and after two weeks found a house with a garden (which I required as I have a pet cat). I made it very clear to the (High Street) estate agent at the time of viewing the property that I had a cat and was told that it was not a problem.

    This gave me two weeks before my friend was due back and before I was out on my ear, but as I had a holding deposit of £200 on the house I had found, and being confident that my references were satisfactory, and that I was due to move in on the day of his return, I stopped looking satisfied that everything would go smoothly.

    So, having been informed that my references were accepted I was due to go and sign the contract last Friday, when I received a phone call from the agent to let me know that the landlord had changed his mind and that he did not want a cat in the property. This was non-negotiable and I was left with only a few days to find somewhere, which has not been successful.

    I went to the agent today to get my holding deposit back, but when a piece of paper was thrust in front of me asking me to sign away any further rights I had, legal or not, I refused and the agent refused to return my deposit.
    As I have nowhere else to stay and cannot really afford additional costs to pay for hotel or short term accommodation, my options are very limted, basically I will have to go to Scotland to stay with my mother, which is hardly ideal as I am in my mid 30's and am self-employed, in a business that is very London-centric and this move will have a devastating effect on my future earning potential.

    My question is what course of action can I now take? Clearly, if they refuse to return my holding deposit then the small claims court is going to be necessary, but do I have any other claim against them? Expenses? Loss of earnings?

    Update: just got a call and they have agreed to remove the offensive wording which signs away all of my rights, but I am still peeved at the massive inconvenience and costs that this whole business has cost me. Any advice appreciated?

    RPH

  • #2
    Regrettably, I don't think that there is anything you can do, now the agent has taken legal advice and promised to review the wording of his document.

    Some time ago I decided to put my holiday cottage on the market. It didn't take long to find a buyer and everything was set up for the sale. In the end I decided to withdraw the property and I am doing other things with it but the buyer is no doubt highly annoyed with me as he certainly had to pay for a survey to ensure he could secure a mortgage. These things happen.

    P.P.
    Any information given in this post is based on my personal experience as a landlord, what I have learned from this and other boards and elsewhere. It is not to be relied on. Definitive advice is only available from a Solicitor or other appropriately qualified person.

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    • #3
      Letting Agent problem

      In my experience a holding deposit is paid to "hold" the property for you and to ensure the agents do not let it to someone else. It depends on the wording of anything signed when you passed the money over but normally if the Landlord pulls out for any reason, then you get the money back (Landlord has to reimburse the agents for any costs paid out for references etc). But if you pull out then you loose the money as Landlord will have to re-market or pay for your reference fees. As you are not in the wrong and have not pulled out, you should be entitled to a full refund. If you have something in writing to confirm that they initially said they would accept the cat, then this backs you up even more. Good luck.

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      • #4
        You are entitled to a full refund on the deposit but probably nothing else. I am unsure why he is asking you to sign this, as you have no further legal rights towards the agent or the property anyway!
        Any posts by myself are my opinion ONLY. They should never be taken as correct or factual without confirmation from a legal professional. All information is given without prejudice or liability.

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