Letting Agents - extra fees unlawful

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    Letting Agents - extra fees unlawful

    I have a letting agent who has issued a small claims court notice against me as i refuse to pay for fees for the second year of a ongoing tenancy. The fees are for tenant find according to the terms and conditions. I have asked them the justify what services they have carried out since the initial tenant find was over two years ago, and they have done nothing since. I prepared all the contract documents and I have been dealing directly with the tenant since they moved in. All the agent did was find the tenant and reference him, for which they were paid the first year fee for.
    Is there any legal defence - unfair terms or no service provided that i should argue
    any help gratefully received.
    I intend to fight this, so hopefully might set a legal precedent - unless there already is one
    thanks
    good landlord

    #2
    I would suggest that the LA could argue that they found you a long term tenant when they could have placed a 6 mo tenant or a 12 mo tenant with you in the first place or even a dodgy tenant. Finding new tenants and redecorating etc. every 6 mo is costly and not totally free of stress.
    ASSUME NOTHING - QUESTION EVERYTHING!

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      #3
      Their case rests on the fact that you signed their terms of business which allowed them to make these charges. Your defense is that it is an unfair term as outlined by the OFT. The OFT is not the law; the judge will interpret what he thinks is fair taking into consideration the OFT guidelines.

      Please give us feedback of your courtroom drama.

      For an explantion of OFT unfair terms:
      http://www.letlink.co.uk/letting-fac...greements.html
      All posts in good faith, but do not rely on them

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        #4
        Originally posted by Bel View Post
        Their case rests on the fact that you signed their terms of business which allowed them to make these charges. Your defense is that it is an unfair term as outlined by the OFT. The OFT is not the law; the judge will interpret what he thinks is fair taking into consideration the OFT guidelines.

        Please give us feedback of your courtroom drama.

        For an explantion of OFT unfair terms:
        http://www.letlink.co.uk/letting-fac...greements.html
        Bel - Could you direct me to where the OFT outlines unfair terms between LL and LA or were you speaking generally on consumer transactions? I also pay ongoing fees to my LA, which is annoying, but so far I have been very happy with the quality of tenants they have found for my properties. Maybe, I can't have it both ways.
        ASSUME NOTHING - QUESTION EVERYTHING!

        Comment


          #5
          I don't know if these exist; I was talking in a general sense

          http://www.dti.gov.uk/consumers/fact...page38609.html

          As raised in the forum before concerning this; it rather depends if the other party is a 'consumer' or "acting in the course of business" as to if regs apply or not.
          All posts in good faith, but do not rely on them

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            #6
            Is your agent ARLA registered? If so contact them about it as ARLA have advised their members to stop charging renewal fees as they are unlawful

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Phoenix View Post
              Is your agent ARLA registered? If so contact them about it as ARLA have advised their members to stop charging renewal fees as they are unlawful
              Interesting! How did you hear about this? Has this been made public or is it being done inhouse, so to speak? Ahh! Are you referring to fees that they may charge to tenants rather than landlords?
              ASSUME NOTHING - QUESTION EVERYTHING!

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Bel View Post
                Their case rests on the fact that you signed their terms of business which allowed them to make these charges. Your defence is that it is an unfair term as outlined by the OFT. The OFT is not the law; the judge will interpret what he thinks is fair taking into consideration the OFT guidelines.
                However, your defence is weakened as you are not a normal "consumer" the agent is instructed by you as part of a commercial activity - letting property. Thus the agency agreement you have with your agent is a business agreement, not a consumer one, and therefore the law of caveat emptor is more prominent.
                On some things I am very knowledgeable, on other things I am stupid. Trouble is, sometimes I discover that the former is the latter or vice versa, and I don't know this until later - maybe even much later. Because of the number of posts I have done, I am now a Senior Member. However, read anything I write with the above in mind.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Sorry for no recent post, but work and speaking to various friendly people regarding by small claims court notice have got in the way

                  So far as it seems that the LA has not followed procedure in sending out the claim. They wrote me a letter on 5th June advising of action, but he claim was only dated 6th June. They should have written giving 28 days for me to respond before launching the action. They also claim they have sent a solicitors letter to me regarding this, but I have not received this.
                  This may be one route to get the thing thrown out on a technicality, but I would prefer to win on principle, which, after talking to a friendly solicitor for basic advice, advised that it might be an option to claim that no service has been provided so that no fee is due.

                  This may not wash with the judge, as technically the LA is in the right as I have signed the conditions, but it may depend on which side of the bed the judge gets up from that day, as to whether he sides with my reasoning - which is a point of law surely?, and any other mitigating circumstances regarding their poor paperwork trail, and late issue of the invoice anyway. The fees were due in Sept 06, and they only issued the invoice in March 07

                  I was also advised to formally end the contract in writing to the LA, again I advise anyone in similar situation to do the same even though there may not be any cancellation terms in the contract.

                  I note the previous posts regarding the unfair terms under OFT regulations, but in law if you sign the contract, that is it, according to the solicitor and Citizen Advice I have spoken to. The judge does not have to take "sharp practice" or "unfair terms" or "unfairness in general" into consideration as this does not wash in English law – unless anyone can comment otherwise?

                  As with other posts, in hindsight, as landlords we should not sign these terms and conditions, and anyone thinking of using an agent in the future for letting only/tenant find, please make sure you cross these clauses out of your contract before signing.

                  If I lose, then I pay the fee, £80 costs and interest. So not the end of the world, if I win then hopefully this will be useful for others.

                  As a point of interest the claim is filed online via a company – moneyclaim online, where anyone can issue a claim for a fee against anyone else for non payment of a debt– which means that one can also reply to the claim online, and I may not have to go to court.

                  Any help gratefully received

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Also another point which I may raise in my defense - which has been noted by others on this forum - is that no contract between myself and the LA exists, as it terminated once the tenant had been found and moved in- again another point of law. This may be something for the high court rather than the county court that deals with small claims. So I do not know if the judge will expect me to represent myself if this gets complicated rather that each side sending their paper arguments for him/her to adjudicate on

                    Has anyone any experience of this recently?

                    Many thanks for any comments - again, this seems to be an issue that many have been caught out on

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Esio Trot View Post
                      However, your defence is weakened as you are not a normal "consumer" the agent is instructed by you as part of a commercial activity - letting property. Thus the agency agreement you have with your agent is a business agreement, not a consumer one, and therefore the law of caveat emptor is more prominent.
                      Good point esio; (which I also mooted in my second post).

                      Goodlandlord would be wise to approach his local Trading Standards to see what they think of all this.
                      All posts in good faith, but do not rely on them

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                      You can search the forums here:

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                        #12
                        I would have thought they are chasing for the wrong payment. I could understand if they insisted on trying to charge for renewing the tenancy (not that I agree with that either), but how can they try to charge a finders fee again? They found a tenant at the start, you paid for that service. They can't charge you twice for the same thing as they haven't found you another tenant.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Just an update as the LA has mysteriously now dropped their case against me. Hopefully as I wrote to them pointing out several legal points ie
                          1.Notice required before legal action was not received
                          2.No contract exists, as ended after the tenant find completed
                          3.No service provided in the second year as the existing tenant stayed

                          but I can only guess, and I will never know. I am still awaiting the Trading standards report into them, which i will stil pursue

                          I did contact the NLA who advised that technically they would win, as i had signed the document, and advised me to try to get them to agree a lesser % fee and settlle out of court. but in the end did not need to

                          good luck to anyone else in the same position

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Glad you have now sorted it out, however my view is that if agreed it at the start a fee is payable for the duration of the tenancy (normally at a reduced rate for second and subsequent years).

                            You could always have ended the tenancy and found a new tenant through another agency, but I guess you wouldn't want the hassle of void periods, check ins new tenancy agreements etc, possible bad tenants etc.

                            Hmmm now it is starting to look like good value to have along term tenant at a reduced fee. Maybe the fee is justified

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