Estate Agent's Responsibilities (Maintenance)

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    Estate Agent's Responsibilities (Maintenance)

    Hi All,

    I'm hoping somebody can help us out here. We're having a complete nightmare with the estate agents that are managing our property. They're extremely rude on the phone and they ignore all of our emails and calls. When we do get through they tell us they'll sort something and then don't.

    Anyway, I can handle stroppy estate agents, however I have a few issues that I need some clarification on and some advice on possible action.

    1. Check In. Firstly, we had to check ourselves in because they were "too busy" to do this. The house was pretty grubby to say the least (in the generic contract they sent us it stipulates that the house must be cleaned thoroughly). We tried calling and emailing but to no avail, so we had to pay for a professional cleaner to clean the house (as we've got two small girls). I've sent them photographs for reference purposes. Question: Is there any way of retrieving this money as it seems unfair that we've had to fork out for the last tenant. Or should we just not bother cleaning it properly when we leave the property?

    2. Maintenance. There are a few issues that need fixing. The main issues are the thermostat for the ensuite shower has gone and the in-built microwave does't work. I've emailed numerous times and called but they don't respond at all. The way I see it is that I'm paying for these to be in working order. We've been in the property almost 2 months now and they've still not fixed any of the broken items. Is it their responsibility to fix these things?

    3. Contract. I've asked time and time again for a copy of our contract but they're just not responding. I thought it was our legal right to have a copy of the contract.

    I'm starting to lose patience with them now as they just don't seem too bothered about fulfilling their duties. Since we can't get anywhere with them, my initial plan of action is to reduce the amount of rent that we pay to the agent from £750 to £720 each month. When I get the call I'm just going to inform them that until we have our contract and the main items are fixed then I'm refusing to pay the full amount. I realise this could result in us ending up in court, but has anybody tried this route before and had any success? Or has anybody got any other advice on how to tackle the worst estate agents in the UK?

    Kind regards,

    Presuming you are in England / Wales

    Cleaning - don't clean when you leave - there is enough to do when your moving without the hassle of organising a grand clean. Your obligation is to leave the place in the same level of cleanliness as when you moved in.

    Broken Items - Shower is covered by section 11 of the 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act as a statutory obligation. Technically, you could get the Environmental Health Officer in but tenants who do that tend to find their contracts aren't renewed (unfair but true). The microwave is a contractual issue - do you have anything that says the microwave will be working (genuine question). In both cases, take a look here:

    Contract - there is no legal requirement for a tenancy agreement of under 3 years (I guess yours is 6 or 12 months) to be in writing.

    The advice in the 'Shelter' link before HAS been tried in court (Lee-Parker v Izzet [1971] ) and is the way forward.

    However, it may help your contract issue if you bear in mind that until you have been supplied with an address for the service of legal documents (which is usually provided in the tenancy agreement) you do not have to hand over rent. It does however remain due 'on account' so as soon as the address is given, the unpaid becomes imediately due. (Section 47/48 Landlord and Tenant Act 1987)

    FWIW, your contract, and the responsibility, lies with the LANDLORD, not the agent. Have you spoken to him/her? Do you have his/her details? If you WRITE to the agent requesting the contact details. If they fail to comply within 21 days it is a criminal offence - Section 1 of the 1985 Landlord & Tenant Act.


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