A post from The Landlord Law Blog:
This is a question to the blog clinic from Sue who is a landlord
I contracted an agency to find me a tenant and then manage the property.
I am happy with my tenant but extremely dissatisfied with the level of service I have and am receiving from my Agent – incorrect paperwork, agreeing reduced deposit with tenant without my prior approval, allowing tenant to change date of rent payment without first getting a signed addendum and the additional rent owed from the old date to the new (over 4 months and still not done) etc.
And overall poor response to any of my questions regarding the above points – only answered questions when I phoned so they did not put in writing.
At the end of the 1 year tenancy how can I keep my tenant but terminate the contract with my agent?
The answer is ‘it depends’. But probably.
The first thing you need to do is look at your agency agreement and see what it says about ending the contract. It will probably say that you need to give a fairly long notice period – usually between 1 and 3 months.
However it sounds as if your agents have been breaching the terms of their agency agreement – you should be entitled to cancel the contract without giving any notice for this reason. Indeed you may be entitled to cancel their agreement now.
Your agents are also almost certainly in breach of the implied terms inserted into all services contracts by the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 that the supplier will carry out the service with reasonable care and skill.
Before cancelling the contract though, you should make sure that you have obtained all necessary paperwork and rent payments from them as they may be difficult about releasing these afterwards.
Be aware also that the contract may provide for them to continue to charge commission for a number of years whether they are managing the property or not, while the tenants they found remain in occupation.
The status of these clauses is in question – they can be valid sometimes but are more often not. It depends on the wording of the clause and the circumstances of the case.
However if the agents are in breach of contract by failing to do a proper job, then again they should not be entitled to this.
You should also make sure that (once the contract is cancelled) your tenants told to pay rent to you direct rather than to the agents (as otherwise they may try to hang on to it, particularly if you are disputing their right to commission), and the tenants are informed that the agents are no longer acting for you.
Property Redress Scheme
If you get into difficulties with your agents, for example, if they are refusing to pass over payments or paperwork, note that all letting agents must belong to a Property Redress Scheme and you will be able to put in a complaint to them and maybe get some compensation.
You will find out how to do this from the property redress scheme website.
Note by the way that I have a fairly detailed guide to help landlords in your position, on my Landlord Law website.
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