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View Full Version : Advice needed on outstanding rental and damage



Oncebitten
06-12-2005, 12:14 PM
12 months ago I moved out of my home to move in with my partner. The relationship did not work out as we would have hoped and I have now moved back home. For this 12 month period I placed the property in the hands of a letting agent who rented it to a young couple with small children, firstly for 6 months, and then extended for a further 6 months. The house was in immaculate condition, even to the extent of built-in appliances which were covered by a care contract for the tenants' peace of mind. At the time I moved out the letting agent remarked that it was really 'too good to rent'.
During the second rental period the tenant fell badly behind with the rent, and when the rental period came to an end he was in arrears to the tune of £1330. He told the letting agent that he was having difficulty paying because he was losing his employment. I have now found out, however, that he has been granted a mortgage by one of the main high street banks, and I find it difficult to see how he could have provided the bank with the necessary references if he was about to be unemployed. I feel as though he has financed his mortgage by way of an interest free loan from me!
There has also been considerable damage to every room in the property. I have obtained a professional quote for redecorating three of the rooms, which comes to £500 + VAT, but I estimate the total cost of putting everything right at £1342, and this is with me doing all the labour myself and charging only for materials, so I would be faced with weeks of work without being paid for my time. I have retained the tenant's £395 deposit, but that still leaves a shortfall of £947. The frustration and inconvenience has been indescribable - they even removed the telephone from the house!
I was under the impression that I was paying the letting agent for a full management service, and I have put it to him that I considered he had a duty of care. His response is that his duty of care involves only obtaining references, attempting to collect the rent, and serving notice and ensuring that the tenants leave at the end of the tenancy. He has stated that this sort of damage is to be expected, and that he did warn me the property was too good to rent. Is he correct in this?
As I see it I will have to go to the small claims court to try to recover the outstanding rent, but I am not sure what do do about the damage. Should I try to reclaim it from the tenant, or have I any recourse against the agent? This is the first time I have ever rented a property, and any advice would be welcomed.

dazalock
06-12-2005, 13:42 PM
The agent is right, he cannot be held responsible for the tenants actions whilst they are in situ. The only avenue you have there is to ensure he has done the referencing right.

Why did the arrears add up to this amount, you should have taken action as soon as the arrears feel into 2 months. I’m afraid you will need to put that down to experience.

Absolutely, get him to court, use moneyclaimonline, if you can get a CCJ on him you will stuff up his ability to get a mortgage in the future.

Ericthelobster
06-12-2005, 13:48 PM
During the second rental period the tenant fell badly behind with the rent, and when the rental period came to an end he was in arrears to the tune of £1330. He told the letting agent that he was having difficulty paying because he was losing his employment. I have now found out, however, that he has been granted a mortgage by one of the main high street banks, and I find it difficult to see how he could have provided the bank with the necessary references if he was about to be unemployed. I feel as though he has financed his mortgage by way of an interest free loan from me!I'm sure you're right, but none of it is relevant to the fact that he owes you money whatever the circumstances. I'd suggest it's probably good news in that he presumably has some means, is not on the breadline, so you should have some chance of recovering your loss


I estimate the total cost of putting everything right at £1342, and this is with me doing all the labour myself and charging only for materials, so I would be faced with weeks of work without being paid for my time.Sod that! - get professional quotes for getting the lot put right. No reason why you should give the tenant free labour.

I was under the impression that I was paying the letting agent for a full management service, and I have put it to him that I considered he had a duty of care. His response is that his duty of care involves only obtaining references, attempting to collect the rent, and serving notice and ensuring that the tenants leave at the end of the tenancy. He has stated that this sort of damage is to be expected, and that he did warn me the property was too good to rent. Is he correct in this?I'm not quite clear - did all this damage occur during the second six months? If so, then why did you renew the contract while the house was being systematically trashed? Was the house inspected during the initial lease? If not why not, was that the agency's responsibility and should they have reported back to you?

As I see it I will have to go to the small claims court to try to recover the outstanding rent, but I am not sure what do do about the damage. Should I try to reclaim it from the tenant, or have I any recourse against the agent?I think you'd be very unlikely to have a claim against the agent, unless possibly if they failed in their duty somewhere along the line, eg as above. Get yourself off to http://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk and go after the tenant. Good luck!

Oncebitten
06-12-2005, 15:23 PM
Thanks for your opinions, dazalock and Ericthe lobster. I appreciate your advice. I will get professional quotes for the lot and go after them! As far as when the damage occurred - I just don't know. When the agent asked me if I would be prepared to offer the second six months rental, I just presumed he was happy with the way the tenants were treating the place. I was living some distance away, so left everything to the agent. I guess the word for it is naive! And when the rent began to fall into arrears the agent kept telling me that the tenant was making arrangements to pay. It was not too bad until the section 21 was served - then I never saw another penny!

Ericthelobster
06-12-2005, 16:47 PM
When the agent asked me if I would be prepared to offer the second six months rental, I just presumed he was happy with the way the tenants were treating the place.Hmm - bad assumption unfortunately as you now know to your cost. I'd be willing to bet that there would have been evidence of damage occurring had the property been inspected during the first 6 months. Presumably the agent should have been inspecting? And if he did, why was nothing said? All supposition of course, and you'd never prove anything unless the tenant corroborated your suspicion (yeah right!).

(I've just taken on a tenant who formerly lived in another rental managed by an agency, who gave me glowing references for the bloke. However the tenant told me that he'd paid his rent regularly to the agency by standing order all that time, and hadn't seen hide nor hair of the agent (or LL) since the day he'd moved in. So for all the agent knew, the property could have been totally trashed in the meantime.)