LandlordZONE

01

Nov, 2014

Saturday

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  1. #1

    Default Are my LAs liable?

    Greetings all. Having been a 'spectator' for some time, decided to register as I could really do with lending an ear from one or two of the more experienced LLs out there.

    Basically, I used a LA since getting married 3 years ago. Wife didn't want to live in my house due to location, so we rented somewhere closer to her work. Got my place all done up and quickly found tenants via the LA on 6 month short-term assured basis. They ended up staying for over 3 years and it was only because they started falling behind on rent I served them Sect 21 - and they finally left 2 months after the expiry date.

    Anyway, when I got the keys back I was horrified at the state they'd left the place in - as well as the number of items they'd left behind. I'd rented it out mainly furnished (BIG mistake) and found that they'd either taken / sold / broken most of the items such as dining table and chairs being sawn up and used to kit out my shed as some kind of impromptu 'workshop'.

    My grievance however, is with the LA because I was looking back through my records only to find out I'd not had an interim inspection report for over a year. When I queried this, they told me to "check my spam folder" as they'd changed their email distribution system and this was happening in some cases. Now I carefully check my spam folder and cannot recall seeing anything to do with inspections. More worryingly, they'd wallpapered my entire house from top to bottom (including the bathroom!) and pulled out all the media cabling from the walls, as well as a whole host of unauthorised alterations to the property (including changing locks).

    Now given that tenants dont generally redecorate a place (that doesn't need decorating) when they've been served Notice - these things must have been done some time ago. If I've been paying them for full managment of the property then clearly I've not been receiving the service I've been paying for, given that the first time I noticed all the problems was when I finally got my keys back.

    The tenants have agreed to release their entire deposit to me, which will probably not even cover half the damage they have caused or replace the items they have taken or damaged. But where do I stand with the LA? I know I'm partly responsible for not chasing up the inspection reports (if they've actually been done) - but surely the severity of damage / alteration of the property should have been flagged up to me as soon as it was noticed? My family and friends keep on at me to take the LA to court for not providing me with a service I paid for - but as I understand they just act on my behalf and from my limited experience cannot begin to understand how I would even go about raising this as they are an independent agent too.

    Apologies for the long-winded explanation - but any advice would be most welcome. Thanks for reading.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    9,264

    Default

    Sue tenants for damage etc not covered by deposit...

    Sue LA for negligence & damage likewise...(Not sure you can sue 2 different people for the same thing..)

    (Clearly..) - next time, take more of an active interest...

    At least you got 3 years of rent & no voids...

    Cheers!
    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...

  3. #3

    Default

    TAL - Thanks for responding. Unfortunately the original tenants (four of them) quickly became two, one of which then sub-letted to his girlfriend to make up the difference (all of this I found out when I started the Sect 21 ball rolling...) They were all Latvian at the time. I since found out from my old neighbour that loads of different people lived there from time to time, including some young girl that came over from Lithuania - had a baby (in my house) and went back home, along with Child Tax Credits undoubtedly. So little chance of taking the original four signatories on the Tenancy Agreement to court I feel.

    I'm thinking more along the lines of negligence on my LA's behalf. The inspection reports I did receive, all seemed hunky-dory, nothing to worry about ...But like I said - a complete redecoration of the place, destruction of furniture and alterations to the property - you'd think this would have set the alarm bells ringing, along with my telephone when the LA saw what was going on. But nothing, nada, zip. Either the inspections hadn't been carried out over the last 12 months or so, or they never got sent. As you rightly say though, next time I will take a more active interest.

    Bright side? Again, like you said - over 3 years of rent, and an invaluable lesson to apply once I've put the place right. Can I take the LAs to Court though? Has anybody ever done this and succeeded? I'd probably start with the Formal Complaint to the MD with a clear intention of legal action, and request that the management fee for the period in question be refunded. But aside from that I am in unfamiliar territory here...

  4. #4

    Default

    This very closely resembles the situation a new client of mine has. A previous tenant vacated and had not treated the property well. Not as extensively damaged as your house was, but it was certainly not returned in the condition it was when first let, fair wear and tear excepted. I haven't got the full story yet but it appears that the agent attempted to recover costs of rectification from the deposit and the deposit scheme adjudicator only allowed a deduction of £300. I've got quotes from the tradespeople I use and they are well in excess of that. The necessary redecoration alone is over £2000. Rooms have been painted (badly) in garish colours, the tenants smoked (not just tobacco) leaving badly stained walls and ceilings. They had numerous pets so scratch marks to walls bannisters, handrails and so on. Appliances were broken, drawers from kitchen units hanging off. Generally uncared for. There are other issues including badly repaired damage to ceilings from plumbing repairs.

    The LA, I think, arranged for a carpet cleaner to treat the carpets to remove pet smells (think dog and cat urine) and it has shrunk away from the grippers in various places. The carpet fitter I used came yesterday to re stretch the carpets in to place but he tells me the carpets will not stretch. In his opinion they have been steam cleaned at a very high temperature and the warp or weft threads have permanently shrunk leaving no give in the carpet. These were a good quality carpet, not cheap foam backed, that I would expect to stand up to heavy duty wear and last a considerable time. Apart from the fact that they don't now fit properly they do not show appreciable signs of wear.

    I'm of the opinion that the long established and apparently reputable agent did not carry out regular inspections of the property nor did they competently handle the dispute with the deposit scheme arbitrator. What is the likely success of redress against, in my opinion, the incompetent agent?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    9,264

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JesterRIP View Post
    ....y the original tenants (four of them) quickly became two, one of which then sub-letted to his .......
    So were any tenancy agreements signed after the initial one with the 4 tenants?? And it was a "joint-and-several" tenancy?? And did any of those 4 ever give formal notice-2-quit?? If not the original 4 tenants are all "the tenant" & still liable...

    Please, I encourage you, sue the tenants... get judgment ... then slowly track them down for the £££ . As long as you can find any one of them with assets or working chances are you'll get your money...

    You may even be able to recover from Latvia or wherever they went

    If you don't you'll find they & their mates tell all their mates what a nice soft touch you are & guess what sort of person then presents as the perfect next tenant???

    And sue the LA also....

    Cheers!
    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...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    7,428

    Default

    I would sue the tenants, and if you are still out of pocket, then sue the letting agents.
    Stalkers, please go over this comment with a fine tooth comb.

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