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Misled
28-08-2006, 12:31 PM
Hi,

I am hoping that somebody here might offer some advice. We have just moved into a new flat on a 12 month contract, only to find that it is not quite how the letting agent had led us to believe. When my wife was shown the flat by the agent she was told that it had air conditioning and under floor heating. The air conditioning was a deciding factor in choosing this flat over some others we had seen. Prior to signing the contract, I spoke to the agent again to confirm the particulars of the flat (we wanted some curtains fitted), and I asked him again about the air conditioning. He replied, "All the flats in this development have air conditioning".

On Friday we signed a 12 month contract, and collected the keys and moved in over the weekend. After spending a while trying to use the heating controls to turn on the air, I gave up and went to see the porter for advice. He told me that the flat did not have air conditioning - none of the flats did.

Given this was the main reason we settled on this flat over another, we feel totally cheated by the agent. If we new the correct details about the flat, we would have selected one of the other flats we looked at, and would not have signed this agreement.

Does anybody have any advice on how we can get out of this contract? We were misinformed by the landlords’ representative and have signing a contract for something we don’t want - if it were something you bought in supermarket, I'd be taking it back under their returns policy and having a rant at the sales manager already. What would happen if we cancelled our standing order? We have already paid 4 weeks advance rent + a 5 week security deposit. Is there any chance of getting this back? Can we take action against the agent to get it back?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give.

Regards,
Misled

davidjohnbutton
28-08-2006, 15:37 PM
You can certainly renege the contract due to misrepresentation - a lot depends on the proof you are able to offer that the agent said the flat had AC. My wife's Range Rover has air conditioning which uses a refridgeration cooler to blast freezing cold air into the passenger area. My Defender also has air conditioning - you open the two flaps 'neath the windscreen and you get much the same effect! I use this to illustrate that one man's air conditioning is not possibly the same as another man's and it is possible that the agent, being clueless, thought you meant opening windows!

Your first point of approach is the agent and the landlord to see if you can get out of the contract by agreeable means.

Misled
28-08-2006, 17:07 PM
Sadly we are not really able to offer any hard proof. It was verbal both times. If I record a call to to him in which I innocuously ask him something that would make him accknowledge the the A/C (ie, Do you know how to turn it on), as long as he didn't flattly come back and say 'what A/C', would that be good enough?

Thanks

davidjohnbutton
28-08-2006, 17:21 PM
You could try that I suppose - tape recordings are sometimes admitted into court as evidence and at other times, they are regarded as entrapment or suspect for some other reason.


Better evidence would come from the porter whom you asked for advice about the non-existant air conditioning!

Misled
28-08-2006, 18:42 PM
I also mentioned it to the landlord that the agent told us that there was air conditioning, and he confirmed that there was not. Do you think that these conversations would be enough? Everything is verbal, nothing on paper/email.

Do we have much grounds for renege of the contract? The contract is with the landlord, and he never told us there was A/C. Does the letting agent represent the landlord to the extent that if they provide incorect information, that is effectively the same as the landord?

One other thing I forgot to mention before. We very nearly took out a flat a week earier with the same letting agent. We'd passed over the holding deposit on a flat 'with parking' that was 'available next week', which turned out to be a flat 'without parking' (unless you wanted to pay another £15 a week), that was 'available in 3 weeks'.

Groan...

PaulF
28-08-2006, 21:04 PM
What you should do is write to the agent with a copy to the landlord and state that the main reason for taking on the property was their confirmation that aircon was installed in all flats.

State all the occasions when you were given this information and again make sure your conversation with the caretaker is also mentioned, and anybody else with whom you spoke about it.

Most courts would recognise your concerns if you are unable to get the agent or landlord to say that you were misinformed. I wouldn't necessarily say the agents are cheating you but they do need to make sure they know what they are talking about. They should have checked about the aircon installation, and as DJB states you would be entitled to rescind the tenancy agreement. Unfortunately you might have to go as far as a court of law to obtain redress but don't let that put you off.

Get a solicitor to help you if you can afford it!

Misled
29-08-2006, 14:58 PM
I have spoken to the letting agency. Unfortunately the agent I had been dealing with has left the company over the weekend due to a death in the family. The agency are not denying that the agent verbally led us to beleive that the flat had A/C. In fact they have spoken to him and acknowledged he said it to us twice, but they were quick to point out that there is nothing in writing stating that it had it. The agent himself has also sent me a text and a voice mail appologising and admitting that he had made a mistake.

I assume that I now have sufficient proof that the agency led us to believe the flat contained A/C. I have agreed to check one final time tonight that there is no A/C (the agency have insisted), and then I will attempt to recind the contract - hopefully ammicably.

Does anybody have anythought on how I should go about this? Should I be entitled to my full deposit money back? If I move out immediately, pass the keys back and cancel my standing order, can the landlord take action against me?

Thanks.

davidjohnbutton
29-08-2006, 16:42 PM
I would suggest that you have an agreement in writing drawn up whereby you withdraw with consent from the contract and receive anything you have paid by way of deposit and or forward rent and that any agreed deductions for example for the time in the flat are noted and that a date is set for when you must leave by, and when they must refund monies by.

Just to cover both yourself and the agent.

If the agents do not agree to you rescinding the contract, then you will have to take a risk assessment on what you do - move out and recover money after for example.

Jennifer_M
29-08-2006, 18:42 PM
Someone clued up in legalities could clarify this:
Didn't the agent admit liability by sending the SMS apologies? And any employer is responsible for the mistakes an employee (whether he's left or not) made meaning the agency should be responsible for fixing this problem?

Misled
30-08-2006, 15:13 PM
Quick update... We've moved out and informed the agent and landlord in writing that we are recinding the contract. I've leveled the blame squarely with the letting agency and advised them that I will not suffer any financial loss due to their negligence (including refunding of moving costs). I have also suggested that they reimburse the landlord for lost rental income and any fees incurred.

The agency is claiming that we cannot do this and that we need to pay rent for 8 months and will lose our deposit in it's entirity. The landlord seems more willing to close the matter off quickly, but wants £450 for 1 weeks rent plus and to cover the costs of fitting some curtains for us.

Both myself and the landlord want a swift end to this, but it's going to come down to how much the agency dig their heels in. They've miffed me off so much that I am very tempted to take this up with the courts if I have to. Just to really rub it in, they also took an extra £400 from my account without my consent. Maybe I'll call the police too :-/

dazalock
01-09-2006, 13:48 PM
How did they take £400 from your account without your consent?

Misled
04-09-2006, 00:09 AM
They had my card details from about two weeks earlier. We put down a deposit we put down on a flat that they advised had parking and was available immediately. Turned out neither was the case so they gave the deposit back. They used the same card details to take a deposit this time despite agreement to pay eveything by the bankers draft.

Current position is that the landlord want £450 for lost rent and to cover fitting some curtains for us. The agency had the nerve to request a further £340 'admin fee' for moving in from me. As a 'compomise', the agency are willing to drop the admin fee, but still have me pay 450 to the landlord. I'm going to go back, thank them for their generous offer, advise that the move in admin charges are not picked up by the tenent, suggest they pass this over to the landlord and I will make up the remaining 110.

I'm not happy losing any money on this. I want the agency to foot the bill for all of the losses by myself and the landlord but they, obviously, aren't too keen. If I take this to court, I need to take the landlord to court rather than the agency. Not something that I really want to do :-/