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Is my letting agent allowed to do this? Please help

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Author Topic: Is my letting agent allowed to do this? Please help  (Read 193 times)
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« on: October 03, 2021, 10:14:46 PM »

Hi,

Thank you for reading this. I'm so anxious right now and I don't know what to do.

In September I was hospitalized with Covid 19. Because of this I missed a lot of work and I'm only now getting back on track financially. I emailed my letting agent when I was in hospital stating this, my rent is 695 per month, I payed 300 that day. I was then asked to pay Octobers rent early (which I did) and that I could pay the rent arrears over the subsequent two or three months. I emailed the agent to confirm the dates, she did not reply but I assumed it would begin from my Novembers rent.

Then, a couple of days ago, I began to receive emails and calls from the letting agent (as did my gaurontor) demanding that I pay the full rent arrears now. The agent also told my guarontor that I have refused to pay the arrears and that I am ignoring there phone calls (not true, also I have all emails and call logs saved).

I contacted the agent and stated how we had an arangmemt. She again, stated that I need to pay something right now (also please note that Octobers rent isn't even due yet). She said that she had told me what to do and replied to my emails (she did not). I asked to talk to somebody else I felt like she wasn't being professional- (the lying, the demanding money etc and it's difficult to convey here but she talks to me as if she despises me). She said that I need to stop with the attitude, that no one else can deal with me and that I will have an inspection visit this week.

I replied to her stating that I'm not happy with the communication, that we had an agreement for the rent arrears, however I can try and pay the full 395 that is owed by the 24th of October- hopefully sooner but I couldn't that day.

She then responded to me saying that she has spoken to my landlord who doesn't like my attitude about this (I have never been in contact with my landlord), and if I do not pay the 395 now, then eviction papers will be sent later this week.

I don't know what to do, any help would be appreciated. I am a single parent, I work so much and I've never been late with rent before. It's so expensive to move house and my children go to school here. I just don't know what to do.
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« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2021, 12:59:26 AM »

Bear in mind it's not your letting agent: it's the landlord's agent. They're not obliged to act in your best interests. In theory, an agent should act in the landlord's best interests. In practice, they have a habit of acting in their own best interests. If you're a good tenant who looks after the property and has always paid the rent on time apart from this one occasion, I can't see how it would be in the landlord's interests to evict you - unless they think they can get a new tenant in at a substantially higher rent.

That aside, whether your landlord can legally evict you at this point would depend on where you are in your tenancy. If you're still within a fixed term, i.e. you have a tenancy agreement for say six or twelve months, then the landlord would need to issue a Section 8 notice, giving one or more Grounds for eviction. Realistically, that one's never going to fly unless you're two or more months in arrears at the time the notice is served. If you're coming to the end of your fixed term, or you've passed it and you're in what's called a Statutory Periodic Tenancy (effectively a rolling tenancy), your landlord could serve a Section 21 "no fault" eviction notice, giving four months' notice to leave. If the notice is served correctly (and the landlord has complied with various rules regarding deposit protection, gas safety, Prescribed Information, etc) then there's no defence against it.

That said, I still don't see why it would be in your landlord's interests to do so. In theory I could serve my tenants a Section 21 tomorrow. In theory I could also slam my balls in the kitchen drawer. Both would be pointlessly detrimental to my well-being. If you were my tenant and you'd missed a payment under the circumstances you describe, for sure I'd keep an eye on you to make sure it didn't turn into a regular thing, but I wouldn't be throwing my toys out of the pram at this stage. It smells to me like the agent has either not spoken to the landlord at all, or has put the worst possible spin on it, and probably omitted to mention that you've paid October early. It may just be that they're incompetent and are getting you mixed up with another tenant. Under GDPR you have a right to a copy of the information they hold about you, including their communications with the landlord. However, you may not want to rock the boat on that one just yet.
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« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2021, 07:56:02 AM »

Things will not move quickly in relation to eviction, so maybe reduce your anxiety.

Can an Agent /  Landlord commence eviction proceedings against you? Sure. Assuming you're not in a fixed term. Whatever route they take it will not be quick. You can let us know what you receive, if anything. But please provide details of your tenancy. Including Deposit.

Remember that Landlords are people too, and are under the same pressures. It could be that a missing £400 is also causing them severe anxiety and making them act emotively. It is much more likely the Agent is in the middle, causing strife. Chinese Whispers comes to mind.

I'd get the arrears cleared as planned / agreed and see what transpires. If the relationship has now broken-down beyond repair I'd have little reason to stay in the property. Easier said than done, but I'd not want to stay somewhere I wasn't wanted.
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« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2021, 12:46:45 PM »

I thought the notice time for 21 was reverting back to 2 months this month,has that changed?
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« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2021, 01:43:40 PM »

I thought the notice time for 21 was reverting back to 2 months this month,has that changed?

I lost track some time ago: I could barely tell you what month it is anyway! Gov.uk still has 4 months but that's no guarantee of anything...
https://www.gov.uk/evicting-tenants/section-21-and-section-8-notices
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« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2021, 07:03:36 PM »

Hi,

Thank you for replies.

The person from the letting agent, who I had asked not to contact me, dropped off a section 21 notice today.

I ended up leaving a negative review on Google, and one of the owners just called me, demanding that I take it down or he will call the police. I called the police after and they read what I said and stated that it was fine.

The owner also stated that my complaints are not true and they have evidence to prove otherwise (I asked to see this, and he ignored that bit).

He also stated that he will not give me the landlords contact details because they're on the tenancy (they are not) and the landlord doesn't want me to have them.

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« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2021, 07:08:25 PM »

Me again,

Just read the replies. Thank you, I really appreciate it.

I feel awful that the landlord hasn't received the 400 pounds yet. I don't know if they are aware I payed Octobers rent early. I have two months left of my 1 year contract exactly today (and today is when I received the notice).

I don't know why the landlord doesn't want me to contact him, I'm not a bad person, I've never even spoken to him but the letting agents seem to hate me. I feel they really believe that I'm causing problems over nothing buts it's not nothing to me.
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« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2021, 07:09:32 PM »

And also, my deposit is in a deposit scheme. Although I anticipate some difficulties with getting that back.
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« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2021, 10:41:51 PM »

First, check who is listed as the landlord on your tenancy agreement.

Assuming it's not who you thought of as the agent, then you can paid a few quid to the Land Registry who see who's the owner of the property. That may give you the landlord's address assuming they're not idiotic enough to leave it as the property you're in.

You can annoy the agent a bit by making a written request under s1 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 for landlord's name and address, kindly pointing out that failure to supply the landlord's name and address within 21 days following your request is a criminal offence.
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« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2021, 01:33:03 AM »

And also, my deposit is in a deposit scheme. Although I anticipate some difficulties with getting that back.
Obviously there is little point in getting worried before it happens.  But if the agent tries deducting money unfairly remember you have free help and adjudication through the Deposit Scheme if required.
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« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2021, 09:23:07 AM »

The person from the letting agent, who I had asked not to contact me, dropped off a section 21 notice today.

I ended up leaving a negative review on Google, and one of the owners just called me, demanding that I take it down or he will call the police. I called the police after and they read what I said and stated that it was fine.

This is unnecessary escalation.

Tenancies come to an end all the time. Tenants come and Tenants go and both Landlords and Tenants have good and bad experiences. You are obviously currently living somewhere you can tell you're not wanted. Whether that be because of arrears or attitude... that doesn't really matter... what matters is that you expend your efforts in finding somewhere else suitable for you and your family to live (long-term if that is what you want)... not in writing reviews and calling the Police.

This is not productive (for you). Getting the Landlord's details and making direct contact might have a small chance of turning the situation around... but you can't count on that. The Landlord is obviously happy having an Agent manage the property for them... while they might listen to your side of the story, they are just as likely to side with their Agent, against you. So, again, your next steps... what they must focus on is the future... not the present or the past.

I think finding a new place might be quite tough, I am unsure you can count on a positive Reference unless the Letting Agent plays a game, so rather than digging your heels in and holding on for dear life, I would be on RightMove about now... looking for opportunities.

Now... regarding your Section 21... what information does it have on it? What dates? Always remember, despite what I've said, that date on the Section 21, and the date your fixed term comes to an end, is not the date you must be out of the door... right? Yes, it is a [sad?] fact that you can cause a lot of angst for the Other Side now. Especially if they start lining-up viewings and are looking for a new Tenant to take on the property as soon as you've gone... things can get messy for them if they try that quick "one-out-one-in".

There are no lines for us to read between here... but like others have alluded to, I suspect the Landlord is probably relaxed. I suspect the Agent is in the middle, causing trouble, presenting you as a bad case, a bad risk to increase your arrears, scaring the Landlord, possibly looking for new tenancy setup fees... instead of it moving onto SPT... there are bad eggs in this industry. However... I cannot help but think this wouldn't have arisen if there were no arrears... sometimes it really is that simple and even though you feel like a casualty of the situation... the fact that you have arrears means others also become casualties. It's a problem many of us have had to face in the last year or so. Thankfully the Government has told us all that we Landlords can actually shoulder the burden quite well.
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« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2021, 09:42:01 AM »

I am assuming that your job does not provide sick pay,but are there any other benefits you could be entitled to, to cover the period when you were ill? Is there a relative or friend who could lend you the money, so that you can at least ask the landlord to suspend s21,buy some time  while you look at your options in a calmer state of mind ? I understand that you feel let -down by the agent,but it really is making matters worse to post bad reviews while you are still living there.It does sound as if relations have broken down,so you will be better off finding another place to live.
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« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2021, 05:14:16 PM »

In my previous experience as a property manager, the general feeling was landlords hated it when tenants contacted them directly. They have hired an agent to manage their property so they don't have to put in the time and effort to manage it themselves.  They also get to distance themselves from any conflict.

The fact that the agent is handing in notice. The police have been called and negative reviews are being written suggests the relationship has broken down.  No one needs the hassle of this level of conflict.  My suggestion would be to move out and deal with your deposit properly to ensure you get it back. Basically, just move on.
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« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2021, 08:31:12 AM »

If I can add my experience I had with a landlord for a property I used to rent years ago.

End of tenancy inspection carried out with the letting agent, I was said I will have the deposit returned in full very next day. 10 days after I still didnít have my deposit, all my calls have been completely ignored by the agency, DPS informed me that the agency is the issue.

I was lucky to know that the landlord is moving back into the property. It was easy for me to contact him as I moved only 3 houses away. So I went to his door to speak to the guy. I met a very nice person who was so frustrated that the agency was treating me like that (he even thank me for the way I have left his property and for the improvements I have added) and called them in front of me asking them to pay my deposit that day, otherwise their business relation is ended. 2 minutes after I left the guy, my deposit was returned in full with an apology.

So, I would contact the landlord :) You have nothing to lose as it seems.
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