Agent failed to do thorough identity checks - are they therefore liable?

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    Agent failed to do thorough identity checks - are they therefore liable?

    Hi, I was wondering if anyone with knowledge in this area could help me. I let out a property through an agent to 3 people (foreign nationals).Subsequently, without going into too much detail, the property has ended up being totally destroyed causing approx. £4000 worth of damage. The tenants have scarpered. The letting agent (a nationwide branch) did not obtain full identity checks on these people. They have no documentation such as copies of passports, utility bills, etc, to prove these people are who they said they are. The only item of such on record is a hand scribbled note on A4 paper from their so-called employer (non - existant by the way) The letting agent are saying that the fact they saw these items is good enough. I dispute this and believe totally that they have breached the terms of their contract. The question I am trying to answer is are they therefore liable for the damage caused to the property? Any replies would be invaluable, many thanks.

    #2
    Sounds like negligence as they have not taken reasonable care.

    However it can depend if they presented the tenants to you with all that relevant information disclosed to you at the time and you approved them on the basis of what the agent told you.

    If the agent presented a rose-tinted assessment of them to get you to agree, then that would be negligence too.

    Are they members of ARLA, NALS, NAEA or another body? You can complain through them.
    All posts in good faith, but do not rely on them

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      #3
      Many thanks for your reply. I was told that all the checks had come back fine with no problems. They are a member of ARLA and I will be logging a formal complaint with them. The letting agent are taking no responsibility for the damage caused.

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        #4
        Does anyone else have any views/knowledge of this? Thanks in advance.

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          #5
          Originally posted by needinghelp View Post
          Many thanks for your reply. I was told that all the checks had come back fine with no problems. They are a member of ARLA and I will be logging a formal complaint with them. The letting agent are taking no responsibility for the damage caused.
          If checks were made and clear results obtained, obviously the agents should have retained fully-detailed records.
          Why not contact them and demand copies of such records (which, of course, do not exist)?
          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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            #6
            Thank you for your reply. I have a copy of everything in the file - most of the paperwork is incomplete/ wrongly filled in, one of the tenants, male, even claimed to have a maiden name! The letting agent are saying they did not get copies because the copier was broken. I argued they should have told the clients to come back when the copier was repaired or have at least taken written documentation such as passport numbers, etc, to which they dispute.

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              #7
              Did your agent come back to you to get your permission to offer these tenants an AST? Or had you given your permission to do the checks and then go ahead without reference to you? That may have a bearing on whether the agent is liable or not.

              I only ask because I use an agent to find tenants and she does all the checks etc but always comes back to me with prospective tenants, tells me all about them and if there are any queries and then it's up to me to take on board all she's found out and then decide if I'm happy with them. That way I get to vet anyone I'm not sure about due to CCJ's, missing information etc.

              Not much help to you in this situation, but this might be a better way to go in the future. Good luck anyway.

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                #8
                Thank you for your response. The checks were apparently done, they told me all was ok. I did not doubt them as they are a nationwide company so I felt I could trust them to do it correctly and thoroughly. What I was told at the time is a different story they are telling and showing me now - I was told they were all employed, the agent had met their employer, all credit checks were fine, etc. An emergency maintainance problem happened at the property, I found the damage, other involved goods plus an illigal immigrant; a criminal investigation then evolves.
                I was probably naive but being a generally normal, trusting person I placed my faith in the letting agent to do what they get paid (good money) to do. I opted for a full management package specifically to minimise the stress I know letting a property can bring. I did not for 1 minute think they would then change the story that they did not meet the employer, state they obtained identity checks and then not hold documentation. I realise now I should have asked more at the time but did not realise I could or should.

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by needinghelp View Post
                  one of the tenants, male, even claimed to have a maiden name!
                  Probably not impossible in this day and age

                  Peter

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