Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@.

Search
  • FIRST POST
    • AOneVS
    • By AOneVS 11th Sep 17, 9:43 PM
    • 82Posts
    • 51Thanks
    AOneVS
    Letting agent threatening legal action
    • #1
    • 11th Sep 17, 9:43 PM
    Letting agent threatening legal action 11th Sep 17 at 9:43 PM
    Hi, got a bit of a complicated one. My mum was renting a flat which started off all well and good. 4 months in, and for reasons out of her control, she had to end the tenancy agreement early.

    The agent and landlord agreed, but with conditions:
    You will be liable for the landlords set up costs for a new tenant, and all rent and bills until such time as a new tenant moves in.
    My mum agreed as it was the only way to start looking for a new rental. No figure was mentioned.

    A new tenant was quickly found and they also found my mum a new property to rent (charging extortionate fees for their services, including referencing again).

    She then received an invoice for the sum of £600 for the landlords fees for the previous property:

    Setup fee - £354
    Inventory fee - £150
    DPS transfer fee - £36
    Right to rent checks - £60

    My mum chose to ignore this (I had suggested she query the charges). They have now threatened legal action in small claims court if she doesn't pay in 48 hours.

    Any suggestions on how to proceed with this?

    Thanks in advance!
Page 1
    • Slithery
    • By Slithery 11th Sep 17, 9:55 PM
    • 285 Posts
    • 365 Thanks
    Slithery
    • #2
    • 11th Sep 17, 9:55 PM
    • #2
    • 11th Sep 17, 9:55 PM
    Those appear to be the setup costs for the new tenant that she agreed to pay.

    What is it that you don't understand?
    • da_rule
    • By da_rule 11th Sep 17, 10:01 PM
    • 2,503 Posts
    • 2,228 Thanks
    da_rule
    • #3
    • 11th Sep 17, 10:01 PM
    • #3
    • 11th Sep 17, 10:01 PM
    She agreed to pay the costs without asking for any sort of estimate. These costs don't seem unreasonable in terms of letting fee's.

    Her options are pay the amount or don't. If she doesn't then she could end up in court and wind up having to pay legal costs on top of the £600.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 11th Sep 17, 11:25 PM
    • 41,969 Posts
    • 48,572 Thanks
    G_M
    • #4
    • 11th Sep 17, 11:25 PM
    • #4
    • 11th Sep 17, 11:25 PM
    Hi, got a bit of a complicated one. ....

    My mum agreed as it was the only way to start looking for a new rental. No figure was mentioned.
    Originally posted by AOneVS
    As others have said, it does not appear to be "a bit of a complicated one". It appears straight-forward.

    You don't say what her tenancy terms were eg 6 months? 12?, and rent? which might have made a difference ie if paying rent till the end of her tenancy might have been cheaper than these fees.

    Nor do you say if the terms of this Early Surrender were agreed in writing, or verbally. I suppose if verbal, she could deny she had agreed, but this is pretty unlikely to succeed.

    She also might argue in court that the fees are unreasonable given that they were not fully specified in the Early Surrender. This might or might not sway a judge.

    But the bottom line is that

    * she was contractually bound by the original tenancy terms
    * she wanted to be released from that contract
    * the landlord agreed, subject to conditions and
    * she agreed those conditions.

    But as always (and as a warning to others) one should always get full details of any contract in writing. In this case, she agreed without getting the details specified in writing.

    She could wait to be sued, enter a defense, and hope for a sympathetic judge, but be prepared o end up paying the amount claimed plus court costs on top.

    Or she could pay up now.

    Or she could try negotiating - see if the landlord (it's the LL's decision, not the agent) will accept, say, £400 instead of £600. He might.
    • AOneVS
    • By AOneVS 12th Sep 17, 9:19 AM
    • 82 Posts
    • 51 Thanks
    AOneVS
    • #5
    • 12th Sep 17, 9:19 AM
    • #5
    • 12th Sep 17, 9:19 AM
    Or she could try negotiating - see if the landlord (it's the LL's decision, not the agent) will accept, say, £400 instead of £600. He might.
    Originally posted by G_M
    Thanks for the responses so far. I was thinking along these lines.

    Let me give some additional info. From what I can tell the conditions were agreed verbally over the phone, then confirmed by the agent in an email.

    My mum questioned the original invoice for £600, saying she thought the fees would've been around £300.

    The invoice was sent on 30th August.

    The original tenancy was for 6 months at £895 per month. She left 4 months in.

    The reasons for leaving... The flat was one of two in a small block above a shop. The other tenant had been extremely rude and confrontational to my mum. When my mum complained about the behavior to the letting agent, they took the side of the neighbor and told her to "grow up". My mum complained to the letting agent director, but they backed up the agent who said it.

    The flat is on two floors, was nice and modern. For some reason, the letting agent thought it would be OK to tell my mum that a previous tenant had hung themselves from the 2nd floor. This info, and the continued anti social behavior of the neighbor was too much for my mum to take.

    I've just seen the email from the agent threatening court action. Apparently they are really upset about this as they 'went above and beyond to help you break the tenancy and find you another lovely property, all in a very short time-frame, which we did not have to do'

    I think as a letting agent, being paid by a Landlord and Tenant, they are obliged to do just that.
    Last edited by AOneVS; 12-09-2017 at 9:39 AM.
    • Chappers27
    • By Chappers27 12th Sep 17, 9:21 AM
    • 56 Posts
    • 57 Thanks
    Chappers27
    • #6
    • 12th Sep 17, 9:21 AM
    • #6
    • 12th Sep 17, 9:21 AM
    When she signed the initital tenancy agreement, were those terms in the document? The only thing that matters is what is in the terms and conditions of anything she has signed.

    Alternatively she could leave now, take her things, and not leave a forwarding address. That's not my recommendation. She should NOT get a property through the same letting agent! Find a different place. I cannot quite believe they referenced her again after just four months.

    If it were me, I'd read the original tenancy agreement about termination.
    Last edited by Chappers27; 12-09-2017 at 9:28 AM.
    • AdrianC
    • By AdrianC 12th Sep 17, 9:31 AM
    • 15,483 Posts
    • 13,800 Thanks
    AdrianC
    • #7
    • 12th Sep 17, 9:31 AM
    • #7
    • 12th Sep 17, 9:31 AM
    The reasons for leaving... The flat was one of two in a small block above a shop. The other tenant had been extremely rude and confrontational to my mum. When my mum complained about the behavior to the letting agent, she was told to "grow up". My mum complained to the letting agent director, but they backed up the agent who said it
    ....
    For some reason, the letting agent thought it would be OK to tell my mum that a previous tenant had hung themselves from the 2nd floor. This info, and the continued anti social behavior of the neighbor was too much for my mum to take.
    Originally posted by AOneVS
    Oh. Well, there we go. That's life.

    It's very kind of the landlord to indulge her sensitivities...

    When she signed the initital tenancy agreement, were those terms in the document? The only thing that matters is what is in the terms and conditions of anything she has signed.
    Originally posted by Chappers27
    The tenancy she signed would have been quite clear about her not leaving before the six month fixed period was up. The landlord is being flexible in granting her the right to do that - in return for which, she agreed to cover his costs arising from that flexibility.

    If she insists on the letter of the tenancy, she owes the landlord two months rent @ £895/mo = £1790. The landlord is letting her cancel the tenancy if she covers the £600 of costs. I make that a saving of £1190 through his flexibility.

    She cannot have it both ways. This is not the time and place to be insisting the contract should be adhered to fully...

    Alternatively she could leave now, take her things, and not leave a forwarding address. That's not my recommendation. She should NOT get a property through the same letting agent! Find a different place.
    Mmm. Because a court judgement enforcing the debt is always a great idea. Substantial extra costs - and the problems arising from a CCJ if she doesn't take the hint when she inevitably loses...
    • Fosterdog
    • By Fosterdog 12th Sep 17, 9:35 AM
    • 3,357 Posts
    • 5,732 Thanks
    Fosterdog
    • #8
    • 12th Sep 17, 9:35 AM
    • #8
    • 12th Sep 17, 9:35 AM
    It may be worth her contacting the new tenant to see if they were also charged the fees. Technically if the agreement was that your mum would pay their fees, if they were then also charged the LA and landlord have been paid twice. Of course that doesn't stop your mum owing the money but the new tenant may well have a claim against them.
    • LandyAndy
    • By LandyAndy 12th Sep 17, 9:37 AM
    • 23,952 Posts
    • 50,684 Thanks
    LandyAndy
    • #9
    • 12th Sep 17, 9:37 AM
    • #9
    • 12th Sep 17, 9:37 AM

    A new tenant was quickly found and they also found my mum a new property to rent (charging extortionate fees for their services, including referencing again).
    Originally posted by AOneVS

    Alternatively she could leave now, take her things, and not leave a forwarding address. That's not my recommendation. She should NOT get a property through the same letting agent! Find a different place. I cannot quite believe they referenced her again after just four months.

    If it were me, I'd read the original tenancy agreement about termination.
    Originally posted by Chappers27

    Hopefully more closely than you read the original post
    • ThePants999
    • By ThePants999 12th Sep 17, 9:40 AM
    • 866 Posts
    • 1,013 Thanks
    ThePants999
    It may be worth her contacting the new tenant to see if they were also charged the fees. Technically if the agreement was that your mum would pay their fees, if they were then also charged the LA and landlord have been paid twice. Of course that doesn't stop your mum owing the money but the new tenant may well have a claim against them.
    Originally posted by Fosterdog
    These are the fees that would have been charged to the landlord, not the new tenant.

    ---

    OP, your mum really didn't need to move out, was very lucky to be offered an early surrender and has absolutely no grounds not to pay what she agreed. Tell her to pay up before this gets worse. Since she's breached the terms of the verbal agreement, she's lucky the landlord isn't considering the agreement null and void and chasing her for the £1,790 missing rent instead.
    • AOneVS
    • By AOneVS 12th Sep 17, 9:54 AM
    • 82 Posts
    • 51 Thanks
    AOneVS
    Ok, so far my mum has been charged £480 for first flat (references, setup, credit check etc) + deposit of £1340. The deposit was returned minus £300 (for painting and descaling shower!). The same £480 fees were charged for next property + deposit of £2480.

    It's an expensive business leaving a property early!

    I'm going to get her to reply saying that legal action is unnecessary and that she would be willing to come to some sort of arrangement.
    • Guest101
    • By Guest101 12th Sep 17, 9:54 AM
    • 15,118 Posts
    • 14,764 Thanks
    Guest101
    Thanks for the responses so far. I was thinking along these lines.

    Let me give some additional info. From what I can tell the conditions were agreed verbally over the phone, then confirmed by the agent in an email.

    My mum questioned the original invoice for £600, saying she thought the fees would've been around £300.

    The invoice was sent on 30th August.

    The original tenancy was for 6 months at £895 per month. She left 4 months in.

    The reasons for leaving... The flat was one of two in a small block above a shop. The other tenant had been extremely rude and confrontational to my mum. When my mum complained about the behavior to the letting agent, they took the side of the neighbor and told her to "grow up". My mum complained to the letting agent director, but they backed up the agent who said it.

    The flat is on two floors, was nice and modern. For some reason, the letting agent thought it would be OK to tell my mum that a previous tenant had hung themselves from the 2nd floor. This info, and the continued anti social behavior of the neighbor was too much for my mum to take.

    I've just seen the email from the agent threatening court action. Apparently they are really upset about this as they 'went above and beyond to help you break the tenancy and find you another lovely property, all in a very short time-frame, which we did not have to do'

    I think as a letting agent, being paid by a Landlord and Tenant, they are obliged to do just that.
    Originally posted by AOneVS
    No they aren't and yes she needs to grow up!


    Pay up or get a CCJ, that's basically it
    • Guest101
    • By Guest101 12th Sep 17, 9:57 AM
    • 15,118 Posts
    • 14,764 Thanks
    Guest101
    When she signed the initital tenancy agreement, were those terms in the document? The only thing that matters is what is in the terms and conditions of anything she has signed.

    Alternatively she could leave now, take her things, and not leave a forwarding address. That's not my recommendation. She should NOT get a property through the same letting agent! Find a different place. I cannot quite believe they referenced her again after just four months.

    If it were me, I'd read the original tenancy agreement about termination.
    Originally posted by Chappers27
    OR alternatively don't take this advice, as:


    1: its legally incorrect
    2: will end up costing a lot more
    • saajan_12
    • By saajan_12 12th Sep 17, 10:02 AM
    • 965 Posts
    • 655 Thanks
    saajan_12
    Thanks for the responses so far. I was thinking along these lines.

    Let me give some additional info. From what I can tell the conditions were agreed verbally over the phone, then confirmed by the agent in an email.- so there is written proof of the terms of the surrender, ie no denying the conversation ever happened.

    My mum questioned the original invoice for £600, saying she thought the fees would've been around £300.-
    she agreed to the fees though. What she thought is irrelevant.


    The invoice was sent on 30th August.

    The original tenancy was for 6 months at £895 per month. She left 4 months in. - so without the early surrender agreement, she owes rent for the remaining 2 months £1790

    The reasons for leaving... The flat was one of two in a small block above a shop. The other tenant had been extremely rude and confrontational to my mum. When my mum complained about the behavior to the letting agent, they took the side of the neighbor and told her to "grow up". My mum complained to the letting agent director, but they backed up the agent who said it.- Mum had a dispute with a neighbour, this has nothing to do with the agent (regardless if they happen to manage the other flat. So yes, grow up and stop complaining to the agent.


    The flat is on two floors, was nice and modern. For some reason, the letting agent thought it would be OK to tell my mum that a previous tenant had hung themselves from the 2nd floor. This info, and the continued anti social behavior of the neighbor was too much for my mum to take.- fair enough, that's Mum's choice for her own sanity. However no wrongdoing by the LL/agent and no grounds to terminate early.

    I've just seen the email from the agent threatening court action. Apparently they are really upset about this as they 'went above and beyond to help you break the tenancy and find you another lovely property, all in a very short time-frame, which we did not have to do'- well they did, they/LL doesn't have to agree to a termination at all.

    I think as a letting agent, being paid by a Landlord and Tenant, they are obliged to do just that.- No, they are obliged to if the LL tells them to, but neither has any obligation to the tenant to terminate the tenancy / find a new property.
    Originally posted by AOneVS
    Unfortunately the reasons for leaving are not enough to justify breaking the tenancy, so the starting position is Mum owes the remaining rent £1790. Mum and LL (via agent) can negotiate an early surrender, subject to whatever terms they agree. Mum agreed to pay the LL
    - rent until new tenant started
    - reletting fees.

    It was up to her to check she was comfortable with these before willingly agreeing. If she wishes to argue there was a misunderstanding and £600 was more than they expected, then she's back to no termination agreement, so owing £1790.

    Pay up, it's what she agreed and not worth the extra court fees if she tried to ignore it.
    • AdrianC
    • By AdrianC 12th Sep 17, 10:05 AM
    • 15,483 Posts
    • 13,800 Thanks
    AdrianC
    Ok, so far my mum has been charged £480 for first flat (references, setup, credit check etc) + deposit of £1340. The deposit was returned minus £300 (for painting and descaling shower!).
    Originally posted by AOneVS
    She had lived in the flat for only four months, and the flat needed £300 of rectification to be re-lettable...?!?

    The same £480 fees were charged for next property + deposit of £2480.
    Well, yes, of course. For all her new landlord knows, her credit status has plummeted in the last few months. The setup costs are the same as if she'd been in her last place four months or four decades.

    It's an expensive business leaving a property early!
    Yes, it is. If it's not expensive for the tenant, then it's expensive for her soon-to-be-ex landlord - who is the innocent party in this, and is actively going out of his way to do her the favour by pandering to her sensitivities.

    Perhaps she should have thought all of this through before deciding that she couldn't possibly continue to live in the old flat...?

    I'm going to get her to reply saying that legal action is unnecessary and that she would be willing to come to some sort of arrangement.
    Does that "arrangement" include paying what she agreed to pay, rather than attempting to renegotiate after gaining the agreement she wanted?
    • AOneVS
    • By AOneVS 12th Sep 17, 10:10 AM
    • 82 Posts
    • 51 Thanks
    AOneVS
    Some sage advice. I have to take issue with those saying that she should grow up. That could equally be said of the neighbor, who thinks it's ok to verbally abuse someone centimeters from their face. And perhaps of the agent for saying it in the first place. It's not generally how you speak to someone.

    Perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned it at all, seeing as it's had no bearing on the outcome

    Thanks all!
    • AdrianC
    • By AdrianC 12th Sep 17, 10:17 AM
    • 15,483 Posts
    • 13,800 Thanks
    AdrianC
    Some sage advice. I have to take issue with those saying that she should grow up. That could equally be said of the neighbor, who thinks it's ok to verbally abuse someone centimeters from their face. And perhaps of the agent for saying it in the first place. It's not generally how you speak to someone.
    Originally posted by AOneVS
    Nobody has said anything about the neighbour's behaviour being acceptable - because it clearly isn't. But I'm really not sure what you/she expects anybody to do about it...

    As for the agent... As far as I can see, his only fault is mentioning something that happened in the past, which is completely and utterly irrelevant to anything that could possibly affect your mother's life in that property. TBH, her apparent reaction to that nugget of information makes me wonder whether she's simply being melodramatic about the neighbour's alleged "abuse"...

    If she's going to throw her toys out of the pram any time anybody is anything but sweetness and light to her, then "grow up" does not seem inapposite advice.
    • Guest101
    • By Guest101 12th Sep 17, 10:19 AM
    • 15,118 Posts
    • 14,764 Thanks
    Guest101
    Some sage advice. I have to take issue with those saying that she should grow up. - Then you need to grow up too. Any property that isn't brand new has a chance that someone died there. It's not a big deal. Equally not getting on with your neighbour? Well tough, she could've just coped for 2 months. That could equally be said of the neighbor, who thinks it's ok to verbally abuse someone centimeters from their face. - And? Either report it to the police if you think it's a crime, or move on with your life. Just FYI sticks and stones... And perhaps of the agent for saying it in the first place. It's not generally how you speak to someone. - Does sensitivity run in the family? Crikey...

    Perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned it at all, seeing as it's had no bearing on the outcome

    Thanks all!
    Originally posted by AOneVS


    Just pay up and seriously don't get so bent out of shape, they're just words....
    • fairy lights
    • By fairy lights 12th Sep 17, 10:20 AM
    • 8,291 Posts
    • 27,809 Thanks
    fairy lights
    Ok, so far my mum has been charged £480 for first flat (references, setup, credit check etc) + deposit of £1340. The deposit was returned minus £300 (for painting and descaling shower!). The same £480 fees were charged for next property + deposit of £2480.

    It's an expensive business leaving a property early!

    I'm going to get her to reply saying that legal action is unnecessary and that she would be willing to come to some sort of arrangement.
    Originally posted by AOneVS
    She didn't need to rent her new property through the agency, she could have looked for a cheaper alternative elsewhere, and likewise she could have disputed the deposit deductions.
    • AOneVS
    • By AOneVS 12th Sep 17, 10:31 AM
    • 82 Posts
    • 51 Thanks
    AOneVS
    Someone seems to be looking for an argument

    I've taken what has been said on here regarding the fees and will make sure my mum pays them. It's better and cheaper than the alternative. I speak from experience of having successfully defended myself in the small claims court.
Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

34Posts Today

4,270Users online

Martin's Twitter