Tarred with bad reference, £5000+ out of pocket

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    Tarred with bad reference, £5000+ out of pocket

    Hello folks, I have been reading with some interest some of the posts on here but I have not found a similar situation to mine.

    Last year I entered a tenancy with 2 colleagues for a 3 bedroom house. We are all professionals, 28-32. The letting agents required us to provide guarentors and go through referencing, which we were told we had all passed. We signed the jointly and severally liable contract happily.

    Within 3 months, a tenant had been made unemployed by our organisation. She made arrangements in order for her rent to be paid, and I must admit at this point I naively decided to help. By the time the next month came round, she had promised to pay rent as normal, and would pay me back gradually the money I had fronted.

    Rent day came, and the tenant suddenly disappeared. Almost 6 months on and having completed the tenancy, still no-one knows where she went or where she currently is. As a result the rent went into arrears, and I struggled to get the money together to keep us afloat.

    I asked the letting agent to contact the tenant's guarentor. It then emerged that they had NOT extracted a guarentor form in the original referencing - an error on their part. As a tenant I felt misled, having entered an agreement with an unsecured tenant without my knowledge, which in turn led to the ridiculous situation that ensued.

    I managed to cover the rent in entirety for the rest of the tenancy. While we went into arrears for around 2 weeks, I then managed to pay on time at great expense to myself. A sub-let was out of the question so I struggled on paying her portion. I made it clear to the letting agents that this was not my doing.

    However, it appears there was considerable anger about the arrears from the landlords, who took a very dim view of the situation. I had been willing to renew for a second term but that option was taken away from us. I was mystified and could only conclude the letting agents had not explained the situation fully. They acted as a buffer between us and the landlords and so I don't think they were held to any account for their administrative error which caused so much trouble for all parties.

    To add insult to injury - I was denied a property after my term at this house because the letting agents decided to give me a bad referencing - and no amount of explaining could change my prospective landlord's mind. How does it tally that I have financially crippled myself to fulfill my obligations, and have always been a reliable and clean tenant, and yet referencing companies and letting agents are allowed to talk amongst themselves about my character, essentially tarring and feathering me and stopping me from gaining another property??

    I feel that the referencing process is inadequate, intrusive and inappropriate, in that it does not explore any qualifying factors. They have been downright defamatory towards me, and when I made a complaint, everything was explained away (the landlords, apparently, knew there was no guarentor and proceded anyway. I don't know if this is true, but we were certainly never aware upon signing).

    I am considering going to the ombudsman but I wondered if anyone could offer suitable advice. Luckily I have no wfound a property willing to accept my explanation of events, having spent the last few weeks living on a friend's sofa.

    #2
    I am sorry and I know it seems unfair but you signed a joint contract and as such the un-paid rent of the other T is your un-paid rent and the reference reflects this.

    If you had left the property owing rent (albiet what you consider other T's share) the LL could have sued your guarantor if they wanted. You're all lumped in together and there is no actual share, you're liable for the lot.

    You can however find this T and sue for your losses. I haven't used them myself but have seen LLs here recommend the services of findermonkey.

    Enjoy your new home
    I'm a good tenant with great landlords
    I'm also a living, breathing, fully cooked female.

    Comment


      #3
      While I appreciate that fully Brb and I know full well that I was entering a jointly and severally liable agreement...

      How can I have signed such an agreement without being informed there was an UNSECURED tenant co-signing with me?

      In our T agreement there were 3 people - but to me, guarentors are equally liable. Is it unreasonable logic for me to have thought there were supposed to be 6 liable parties? Acting upon this info I signed the contract. That info proved to be false.

      In all morality, I stuck with the payment and have gone above and beyond. I stepped in when no-one else would and made sure the landlords got every bit of the rent they were entitled to. Now this negative reference will follow me, possibly for years. I know it is not a very moral industry but I do not see how referencing companies should be able to dictate that I am a bad tenant. It's slanderous.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by outrageous View Post
        While I appreciate that fully Brb and I know full well that I was entering a jointly and severally liable agreement...

        How can I have signed such an agreement without being informed there was an UNSECURED tenant co-signing with me?
        Let's not turn the table on responsibilities, here.

        If you knew full well that you were entering such an agreement, they you knew that you were becoming financially bound to and liable for essentially 2 strangers.
        So it was for you to decide whether that was acceptable and it was for you to check you 2 colleagues and perhaps to draw agreements with them.

        The agent/landlord does not have to tell you whether one of the joint tenants has or hasn't a guarantor: You're equally liable either way.

        Comment


          #5
          While I'm sure you're correct, the letting agent explained to us how their guarentor system was a safeguard for landlord and tenant.

          If I sign a contract with a letting agent doing the administration, it is surely my business to know if there have been holes in the letting agent's process? It is after all their responsibility to extract a guarentor form from each signer. It should therefore fall to them to inform us of any factors in liability we should know about prior to signing the contract.

          The tenant was able to leave the property and there was no way of pursuing her for arrears. What was to stop me doing the same?

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by outrageous View Post
            Now this negative reference will follow me, possibly for years.
            I have never seen or asked to see a landlord reference other than from a prospective tenant's current landlord.

            You have a new landlord now. The next time you move it's your current landlord who will be asked to provide a reference by the new prospective landlord.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by outrageous View Post

              The tenant was able to leave the property and there was no way of pursuing her for arrears. What was to stop me doing the same?
              As a joint tenant you can sue her for her part of the rent. You can pursue her

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by westminster View Post
                I have never seen or asked to see a landlord reference other than from a prospective tenant's current landlord.

                You have a new landlord now. The next time you move it's your current landlord who will be asked to provide a reference by the new prospective landlord.
                Not always unfortunately. I dealt with Homelet, who asked me to provide each previous address and a reference for each.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by outrageous View Post
                  Not always unfortunately. I dealt with Homelet, who asked me to provide each previous address and a reference for each.
                  See http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-righ...rotection-act/

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by outrageous View Post
                    If I sign a contract with a letting agent doing the administration, it is surely my business to know if there have been holes in the letting agent's process? It is after all their responsibility to extract a guarentor form from each signer. It should therefore fall to them to inform us of any factors in liability we should know about prior to signing the contract.
                    Guarantors are only protecting the landlord, and if the agent is asked to get guarantors his responsibility is to the landlord.
                    Whether that joint-tenant had a guarantor or not doe not change anything to your liability, and the landlord can pursue any joint-tenant or any guarantor (I thought you understood the principle of a joint-tenancy?)

                    Originally posted by outrageous View Post
                    The tenant was able to leave the property and there was no way of pursuing her for arrears.
                    There was a way to pursue her. But why bother trying to locate and sue someone (especially someone unemployed) when you have someone else equally liable and able to pay right in front of you?


                    Joint-tenancies are a very serious liability and unfortunately many people seem to discover that loo late.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by outrageous View Post
                      the letting agent explained to us how their guarentor system was a safeguard for landlord and tenant.
                      It's a safeguard for the landlord and not the tenants; if they said otherwise they were misleading you. I would go as far as to say it's anything but a safeguard for tenants, because as you've been advised, your own guarantors are vulnerable to being chased up for the errant tenant's arrears.

                      If I sign a contract with a letting agent doing the administration, it is surely my business to know if there have been holes in the letting agent's process?
                      You need to remember that the letting agent acts in the landlord's interests, not yours. He's not some sort of on-the-fence middleman. As such, it's your business to satisfy yourself that you are 100% happy with all the T&Cs before signing up.

                      The tenant was able to leave the property and there was no way of pursuing her for arrears. What was to stop me doing the same?
                      Nothing at all; maybe you or your guarantor would be easier for the landlord to track down and sue though.

                      I do sympathise for your situation, but what you've experienced is unfortunately standard, legal practice.

                      I certainly wouldn't lose any sleep over the lack of a landlord reference covering a brief period. It's not as if the info is generally recorded centrally anywhere. I've had plenty of new tenant applicants who have come to me as first-time renters, or who have been 'sleeping on a friend's sofa' - I have no way of knowing whether they are actually concealing a bad landlord reference.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Thanks Eric.

                        The thing that worries me is that referencing companies do a credit check. While they do not know if the properties present on the credit check are rented, the letting agents locally will do. I have never been dishonest and left a previous address off of a credit check but I feel like I might have to chance it in future.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Credit ratings are not attached to property but to people.

                          If the LL had obtained a CCJ against you then this would have affected your credit rating, but he didn't. Being late with the rent a couple of times will not be recorded against your name.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by macgrl View Post
                            As a joint tenant you can sue her for her part of the rent. You can pursue her
                            I think you might find this rather difficult to recover your loss; it will be time consuming and you are nowhere guaranteed to succeed.
                            The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Paul_f View Post
                              I think you might find this rather difficult to recover your loss; it will be time consuming and you are nowhere guaranteed to succeed.
                              I'd definitely go for it. OP says it's £5K's worth of rent, the other T is a 'professional' so she may well have found a new job by now.

                              Comment

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