Letting Agent failed in providing me the room I paid for.

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    Letting Agent failed in providing me the room I paid for.

    Hi, I would like to request for some advice here as the situation I am in is too ridiculous for myself to sort out.
    So I was previously a student (Scotland, Edinburgh). At the end of my final year I got hired for a job. I had a 3.5 week holiday lined up for me after my dissertation so I searched and managed to secure a flat to move into after I get back from the holidays. I could not stay at the place I was living in as it was a student accommodation.

    This place I paid for (double deposit + 1st month of rent) was managed by a property letting agency and the letting agent assured me I would be able to move in without any problems after I return from my holiday. So the day I arrived back in Edinburgh with all my luggage (at 7PM -dogtired and in desperate need of a bed), they told me the current tenant is still living in the room I so-called secured. They shoved me in a hotel for two days and after that had to keep me in a substandard flat. Apparently, the current tenant wont move out until a month later, meaning I will have to live in a substandard flat for more than a month before I can move into the room I paid for.

    When I complained about the situation and remarked I would report them to the housing agency they told me I will not stand a chance as these kinds of situation happen often. They said the previous tenant is on a rolling contract and they have no responsibility in ensuring that he moves out before the day I am supposed to move in. I was furious (and still am). They emphasized it was out of the goodness of their hearts that they got me 2 days of hotel and a substandard flat. They paid for the hotel but I still had to pay for the weeks I spent at the substitute flat.

    The agency is not part of any redress scheme or housing association, making it hard for me to complain. What I really want to know is the rolling contract. Does the agency not have to responsibility to make sure a tenant moves out before the next one arrives? I was left on the streets for more than an hour before someone picked up the emergency number I dialled more than 10 times. I literally cried on the doorstep of the building I was supposed to move into.

    The agency is denying responsibility and telling me its a very common thing in Scotland. Honestly I have been living in Scotland for over 6 years and it has never happened to me before. COuld someone enlighten me please? How do I escalate my complaint to the housing association (if they have one in Scotland)? Are these kinds of situations normal?

    Many thanks in advance,

    A traumatized individual

    #2
    Scottish housing law has differences to English law. Hopefully someone will be along shortly with experience in Scottish to help.

    If this had been in England then the agent is legally required to belong to a redress scheme. I’ll be surprised if it isn’t the same in Scotland as, if anything, they tend to have greater tenant protection (introduced a fee ban long before anyone else, for example).

    I know that certainly all Scotttish landlords must be registered and display their registration number on their adverts. I assume this extends to agents.

    If this were in England, I think the agent has done a reasonable job of mitigating the issue. Arguably they could have avoided the problem by not advertising the flat until they had vacant possession, but this is the real world.

    They paid for a hotel in the interim and have now provided you with alternative accommodation until the flat you chose is available. You may argue that the property you’re in now isn’t as nice as the one you chose, but I think if it had the same basic provisions and is in the same kind of area then you won’t have much of an argument.

    Only a court will decide for sure though.

    Comment


      #3
      It shouldn't happen but it does.

      Landlords / agents can't just 'kick out' the previous tenant.

      It doesen't matter if they gave notice or the tenant did, if they expected him to leave by a certain date and he didn't then they have to go to court and get an eviction order.

      They can't break the law and force him to leave.

      They should not have re-let the flat until he had actualy gone, but they have been hasty/greedy in trying to avoid an empty flat with no rent coming in and it's backfired.
      (If they do this sort of thing then it's probably a common problem for them, not for Scotland as a whole).

      You have a tenancy agreement with them and so in these circumstances they have to provide you with alternative accomodation until they do get him out, which they have done.
      It's not 'goodness of their heart', it's law. (Although it doesn't always work as easily as it has with you, they might not have had another flat you can use).

      Why do you say that your temporary flat is substandard, is it the flat itself, or the location, or something else?
      (I note you say this is a flat whereas you had originally agreed to rent a room).

      If you genuinely believe that this flat is worth less rent than you agreed for the room then ask them for a rent reduction until you can move into the room, and negotiate a rent for the temporary flat.
      Don't just start paying less rent, that would put you in breach of your agreement.

      Comment


        #4
        Hi both,

        Thank you so much for addressing my questions. So it seems that there is not much I can do. I have terminated the contract with them because I felt very uncomfortable with the people working at the agency. They have been make subtle comments like 'I don't know about your country but in this country, this is the way it works', not knowing that I have been in Scotland for quite a while. It makes me very uncomfortable to have to maintain my composure and not start shouting at them in front of such provoking comments and I have had enough of these disgusting people. I am appalled at their behaviour and the way I am treated despite being the victim here.

        To answer your question nukecad, I initially paid for one room in an HMO compliant house. The house consisted of 8 rooms with a shared kitchen, but the rooms are all ensuite. The price I paid included internet, bill, taxes etc. The substitute flat was not rented out to anybody as it had been painted recently, the smell of paint still lingered. The flat consisted of 2 rooms, 1 shared kitchen and 1 shared bathroom. They haven't rented it out to anybody so I am the first person to live in the place after the 'renovation'. As it had been vacant for a while, heaters were not functional and I had to get my own internet for a month (which is hard as most broadbands only provide a 12 month contract). I ended up tethering from my phone (limited) and hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop. This also became a problem as I could not properly settle in knowing I will have to move soon. And at the same time, I also started my new job. It was stressful.

        They have now refunded my deposit, but I cannot help but feel disgusted at these people. I think I have lost trust in letting agencies. I am now renting privately after seeing an ad on gumtree and that went without problems.

        Many thanks both!

        Still a traumatized individual

        Comment


          #5
          Good to hear you have found somewhere you are happy with.

          TBH I would have thought a newly decorated 2 room flat much preferable to a room in a 8 bed HMO, especially if it was at the same rent.

          Not sure where you are in Scotland but tethering to your mobile is not unusual in rural areas.
          I do it all the time here in Cumbria when the crappy broadband goes down (or goes too slow).
          There again if you're hopping between coffee shops you are probably not rural.

          Comment


            #6
            Sue agent in Sherriff court for such losses as you have incurred. Call Shelter Scotland 0808 800 4444 for further advice.

            The agent appears to be failing in the usual Scottish decencies, shame on them. Good to hear you've somewhere else.
            I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

            Comment


              #7
              I don't know all of the details e.g. was the room let as an individual room or was the property let all together,

              Unfortunately the way things work in Scotland is that if a tenant indicates that they are giving notice then a property will be advertised for let. If a tenant doesn't move out then there is not much a landlord or letting agent can do about it.

              I suspect that this will become an even bigger issue with the introduction of the Private Residential Tenancy that starts for all leases from 1 December 2017.

              Basically the new law makes the letting process in Scotland unmanageable and relies on the decency of tenants (which is nearly always the case) to work but if you have a tenant who changes their mind and decides not to move out then there is not a lot that letting agents can do.

              They could wait until properties are empty before advertising them but this is massively inefficient for both landlords and tenants especially students who currently secure a property approx. 6 months before they move in.

              Comment

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