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Agency ran off with rent money...

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Author Topic: Agency ran off with rent money...  (Read 96 times)
Posts: 1

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« on: September 02, 2020, 04:52:35 PM »

Hi I am a tenant in a flat share and I really need assistance with my landlord / agent situation.

I signed a 6 month contract with a letting agent and have been giving my rent money to them for the last 3 months, to find out that the whole time the agent was not paying the rent to the owner of the building. The agent randomly served me with a termination of tenancy contract letter with no notice at all. They left us with no contact for the landlord, and in charge of paying our gas electric meter despite in our contract all bills being included.

Now the owner of the building / landlord is trying to make a new contract with me and my house mates in the flat, yet charging us more than we previously paid, making us be responsible for the new tenants (advertising the room, doing viewings, taking their rent), as well as making us cover our own bills. (Even though we did not agree to any of this in the initial contract). He is getting one of us to be in charge of the rent and we all pay rent to the person in charge , if that makes sense.
 The owner / landlord has not given us any legal documentation, informed us of our legal rights or even given us a contact for him or his full name, nothing. He basically just came to the flat and said right guys you need to start paying rent to me. The whole thing is bothering me.

Can he legally do this and what are my rights? Can't find much info online.

Also to add that the agent still has our deposit , and did not insure it or anything. I paid rent to the agent 4-week in advance 2 days before they served us the termination letter. They allowed me to pay rent knowing that it would not be passed on to the owner. There's many other flats in the block and some of them knew of this issue and haven't been paying rent for months, which seems unfair that I have been.

Any advice would be really helpful!
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« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2020, 10:35:38 AM »

This seems messy. Does the Landlord acknowledge and accept you've been paying your rent since the tenancy started? If so that is one less headache. Can the terms and conditions of a tenancy be changed mid-way? No, unless by agreement... and you may find you need to give something if you want to stay in the property, which I'm assuming you do. Not paying your rent isn't really a road anyone should recommend you go down... but also, having a guy turn up claiming to be the Landlord and imposing new requirements on you shouldn't be treated at face value, I think.

It's not the Landlord's responsibility to inform you of any legal rights you may have... but they should disclose their identity correctly to you and you should be confident they own the property and they are the Landlord - otherwise you would normally continue paying who you paid to now, in the absence of anything formalised advising you who your Landlord is (the issues between Agent and Landlord are none of your concern)... but that seems very unlikely for obvious reasons.

Initially I would advise the guy visiting (who I presume really is the Landlord) that your contract stands... at least for the fixed term (3 months left?) and that to change who you pay your rent to will require formal documents from him... you aren't just going to start paying anyone who turns-up and says they're the Landlord. If back rent is mentioned ensure you have proof of your rent payments. Remember that the Agent is the Agent of the Landlord - they elected to use them, not you. You can't be held responsible for whatever they may or may not have done.

Lastly, I would start looking for somewhere else and I would scarper.
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