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Jimmyx
26-02-2007, 14:31 PM
Hi everyone,
I'm looking for some help and advice.

Last year I signed a joint tenancy with three friends, after a few months one person moved out, he gave his two months notice and did everything properly. Unsure as to what to do in this situation I wrote a letter to the agents asking who was now repsonsible for getting in a replacement and if the remaining two persons had to cover the rent. This letter was ignored. So we continued paying our share of the rent. We then found a new tenant and he filled the paper work in accordingly five months! after numerous phone calls and no answers. We were told that the applicant couldnt move in because of CCJ's on his file, which he has not got!! Since the my other friend moved out before xmas leaving me on my own and only paying one third of the rent.
The Letting agent now expects me to cover the back rent (about £2500).

I believe that the letting agents have been grossly negligent in their service provision to me, as all it would have taken was a response to my letter or a returned phone call, which would have cleared up the situation and not to led to the mess that I know find myself in.

Any advice on what to do next would be greatly appreciated.

jeffrey
26-02-2007, 14:42 PM
There is one joint tenancy, whether someone resides or moves out. You are all jointly and severally liable for whole rent, no matter who pays how much in practice.

Jimmyx
26-02-2007, 15:19 PM
Thanks for that info. Surely though the letting agent has a responsibility to its tenants to respond to queries?

Why was I not told that the rent was getting into arrears one month later rather than six months?

Is there not any service level agreements that agents have to adhere to.

Also doesn't the tenacy agreement become null and void once a person hands in their notice?


Also, I would like to write a letter to the owner of the house to explain what is happening, do the letting agents have to provide me with the name and address if I ask?

Beeber
26-02-2007, 15:25 PM
Jeffrey is correct - a joint tenancy does make it the responsibility of all parties to pay the rent.

You indicated that notice was served by the first tenant and information in the tenancy agreement ought to indicate whether it was served correctly. For example, he may have provided 2 months notice but if the tenancy agreement was still within its fixed term period or did not contain a clause to permit him to do this, then notice may not have been served correctly by the tenant. If it was a periodic agreement, then please let the forum know.

There's more information here and Shelter do have a free advice line for tenants that have queries. Advice applies to England so make sure you are looking at the site for your country.

http://england.shelter.org.uk/advice/advice-3145.cfm#wipLive-14092-2

jeffrey
26-02-2007, 15:26 PM
1. Agent has no duty to tenants- only to landlord.
2. Don't know.
3. No, so far as concerns tenant. Agent's acts are imputed to landlord, so it is landlord who has to answer your complaints.
4. No. Again: there's one letting in >1 names, so - at least during fixed term - one of tenants cannot terminate it. If he could, he could make all the others homeless.
5. Address of landlord: see other threads re s.1 of Landlord & Tenant Act 1985.

Beeber
26-02-2007, 15:26 PM
On the subject of the landlord's address

http://england.shelter.org.uk/advice/advice-3181.cfm#wipLive-17064-6

PdV
26-02-2007, 15:29 PM
I would suggest that you approach your 'friends' help you out here.

gave his two months notice and did everything properly
Not so - as the tenancy is a joint tenancy, it continues to run regardless of who leaves.

As jeffrey says, you are liable for the whole lot, and you should have made provision to find a replacement tenant before each of the others moved out - that's NOT the landlord's job or the agent's job. Arguably, either the landlord or agent could have helped you to find a new tenant, but this would have required you to let them know well in advance.

The best you can do is to try and offset some of the arrears to your friends as THEY ARE STILL LIABLE even though they've vacated! Give their forwarding addresses to the agent or landlord if you like, but I suspect that it will be YOU who gets evicted and chased for the arrears.

Good luck.
Paul.

Beeber
26-02-2007, 15:30 PM
4. No. Again: there's one letting in >1 names, so - at least during fixed term - one of tenants cannot terminate it. If he could, he could make all the others homeless.


On the question of whether one person handing in the proper notice to end a joint tenancy agreement means it ends for all, the Shelter website indicates that "if one of you gives notice to the landlord, the agreement will normally automatically be ended for all of you. None of you will have the right to continue living there. However, this does not apply if you have a fixed term tenancy that has not come to an end."

Jimmyx
26-02-2007, 16:01 PM
Thanks again to everyone for there advice.


The Tenancy agreement was for six months.
The first person moved out after this period.


When I did go in to see the agents last week they stated that as he wasnt there anymore the contract was no longer valid and that I have been trespassing ever since!! They also admit that they have messed up (not responding to the letter, not returning phone calls and not accepting the replacement tenant) but at the end of the day the owner wants their rent. Even though its probably going to make me bankrupt and homeless.:(

Bel
26-02-2007, 16:06 PM
Please excuse this rambling post:

Like Beeber,I think it hinges on how successfully the original tenant served the notice. If it was correctly done time wise and expired after the fixed period, the action of one tenant concludes the tenancy, and a new one must be created.You will jointly and severally be liable for the rent, at the very least, to the end of the fixed period. If the address for service written on your agreement is that of the agent, then it must have been served to the correct address. Check your agreement.

Question to members; If the notice expired short of the fixed period, would the tenancy still end at the end of the fixed term, as the next best thing? Surely that intention could be demonstrated.

Then , what next? A new tenancy should be created; what does the law say if both the landlord and agent are silent? There is no new AST and no demand for rent.

I don't know the answer.
.................................................. .........


The agent should have acted correctly to advise you of any error. It was my belief that whilst an agent works on behalf of the landlord, he still has a duty of care to the tenants and must act in honesty. But I am not a lawyer. It has clearly 'profited' the agent for him to keep quiet and not help the tenant, because he knows that he can probably screw him for all the money anyway.

Bel
26-02-2007, 16:10 PM
When I did go in to see the agents last week they stated that as he wasnt there anymore the contract was no longer valid and that I have been trespassing ever since!! They also admit that they have messed up (not responding to the letter, not returning phone calls and not accepting the replacement tenant) but at the end of the day the owner wants their rent. Even though its probably going to make me bankrupt and homeless.:(

Write to the landlord and explain the situation; tell them to sue the agent for their rent.

Paragon
26-02-2007, 16:20 PM
I think a judge might be lenient in this case towards the tenant. If the tenant has proof of his correspondence to the letting agent, the judge, who has enormous powers of discretion at the county court level, could rule that the letting agents should have responded in order to mitigate the damages. He could also rule that the tenant may have been unaware that his contract was between him and the landlord, not the letting agent. He can overrule the "ignorance is no defense" if he so chooses.

bm1
26-02-2007, 21:33 PM
Hello.
JimmyX just forwarded me this link. I am the person mentioned in this who moved out.

To clarify, 3 of us signed a joint assured shorthold tenancy for 6 months. After 4 months i gave my notice (of 2 months) and after 6 months I moved out. At this point all rent was up to date and my notice was correctly given. As I understand it the existing contract is then defunct?

My gripe:
This was 8 months ago. I am still waiting for my damage deposit back. The agency have only just accepted (8 months down the line) that I moved out as they initially lost all my correspondance. They have now found it (including my correctly given notice) and agree I did everything properly however they are now holding on to my deposit because of rent arrears incurred from AFTER I left. They say it is the landlady holding the money and they are powerless to pay me back.

Jimmy's gripe:
When I (not Jimmy) left the house i gave notice by phone call, letter and in person, and it was all ignored. I even had to tell my bank to stop paying them as they were still trying to take the money. The agency now agree all was done correctly by me and that they were pretty naff. From Jimmy's pov they ignored his approach to get a new tenant in, and didn't respond to his correspondance to speak to them about how to progress things, and they kept taking THE SAME amount (1/3 of total rent) from his account now there were only 2 tenants. 8 months down the line they have realised their mistake, admitted their incompetence (it was an old lot of staff who have now been booted out apparently) but still are demanding all the money outstanding from Jimmy.

Does that explain it all Jim?

So does anyone know where we stand?

Thanks,
Brett

Bel
26-02-2007, 22:24 PM
Hello.
JimmyX just forwarded me this link. I am the person mentioned in this who moved out.

To clarify, 3 of us signed a joint assured shorthold tenancy for 6 months. After 4 months i gave my notice (of 2 months) and after 6 months I moved out. At this point all rent was up to date and my notice was correctly given. As I understand it the existing contract is then defunct?

My gripe:
This was 8 months ago. I am still waiting for my damage deposit back. The agency have only just accepted (8 months down the line) that I moved out as they initially lost all my correspondance. They have now found it (including my correctly given notice) and agree I did everything properly however they are now holding on to my deposit because of rent arrears incurred from AFTER I left. They say it is the landlady holding the money and they are powerless to pay me back. If the deposit is held as 'agent for the landlord', rather than as a 'stakeholder', (it may say in your agreement which is the case) the landlord has command of the deposit. You can claim this money back by taking the LL to small claims court.

Jimmy's gripe:
When I (not Jimmy) left the house i gave notice by phone call, letter and in person, and it was all ignored. I even had to tell my bank to stop paying them as they were still trying to take the money. The agency now agree all was done correctly by me and that they were pretty naff. From Jimmy's pov they ignored his approach to get a new tenant in, and didn't respond to his correspondance to speak to them about how to progress things, and they kept taking THE SAME amount (1/3 of total rent) from his account now there were only 2 tenants. 8 months down the line they have realised their mistake, admitted their incompetence (it was an old lot of staff who have now been booted out apparently) but still are demanding all the money outstanding from Jimmy. See post from Paragon above.
Does that explain it all Jim?

So does anyone know where we stand? If you think they are unfair; don't pay. The LL may threaten to take you to court. Doesn't mean that he is in the right. Its just bully tactics. Seek legal advice, if you think court is a reality.

Thanks,
Brett

You need to check direct with the LL if he realises that the agency is at fault; the agents could be hiding the truth from him. It is better to sort this out ASAP. Write a letter of explanation ; but show yourselves to be confident that you are not at fault. He may have a mortgage to pay, so he is desparate. Show him the agency is at fault.

Jimmyx
27-02-2007, 08:48 AM
Ok,
Thanks for the help again everyone, think I know the way forward now.

1. Get the address of the Landlord, to let him/her know exactly whats going on and whos at fault.

2. Gather all my correspondance, and get a defence put together

3. Seek Legal advice, would Citizens advice be the best place to start?

4. See what the judge has to say, is it likely that I'm going to have have to pay court costs?

We will let you all know the outcome.

I'm still shocked that there is no type of official regulator for these agents! Its not as if they are a small company either, probably one of the biggest in East Anglia.

They actually told me that the lettings Managing Director had left the company, formed his own one, taken all the staff with him and wiped the records off the computer!.

I wouldn't ever go near these again, (not that I've got much chance as I'm now going to find myself blacklisted).

jeffrey
27-02-2007, 09:30 AM
So perhaps it's they who need legal advice now?

Paragon
27-02-2007, 09:39 AM
Ok,
Thanks for the help again everyone, think I know the way forward now.

1. Get the address of the Landlord, to let him/her know exactly whats going on and whos at fault.

2. Gather all my correspondance, and get a defence put together

3. Seek Legal advice, would Citizens advice be the best place to start?

4. See what the judge has to say, is it likely that I'm going to have have to pay court costs?

We will let you all know the outcome.

I'm still shocked that there is no type of official regulator for these agents! Its not as if they are a small company either, probably one of the biggest in East Anglia.

They actually told me that the lettings Managing Director had left the company, formed his own one, taken all the staff with him and wiped the records off the computer!.

I wouldn't ever go near these again, (not that I've got much chance as I'm now going to find myself blacklisted).

(1) If this was a large company, then you want to get in touch with the headquarters. It sounds as if the office you were dealing with was an independently owned franchise type business. Most of the national firms work as franchises. The people who finance and provide operational support to the franchise are ultimately responsible.