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Letting Agent passing Debt onto DCA's


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Hi,

 

Im in a dispute over an invoice for a locksmith. I tried to access my property but the locks had been changed and had been given no written warning to say this was going to happen or a new set of keys. The letting agent did not have keys either so a locksmith was called out and paid for by the letting agent. The letting agent has now tried to charge me for this service but will not show me the invoice for the locksmith, only an invoice they have created. I have refused to pay and they have passed it on to a DCA who have sent me a letter (the first of many i presume).

 

I have contacted The Property Ombudsman (TPO) and sent the Letting Agent a formal complaint which they have 21 days to respond to. If they dont respond, what ways can TPO help?

 

Ive read some of the threads and templates which will come in handy but wondered what to do next? Will they have to take me to court to get the money? Will they try and deduct it from my deposit when i move out?

 

Thanks In Advance

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Your not responsible for your locks being changed your landlord is unless the damage was yours in the first place that caused the locks to be changed, and if thats the case then yes you are responsible for the locksmith, your letting agents can only act on what your landlord has requested, and if it was the landlord that changed the locks and not the agents then you have grounds to complain. Your Landlord cannot come along and just change the locks willy nilly and has to give you at least 24 hours notice before coming round and doing anything like this as with the agent.. what does your contract state about this.

and Im sure im right in saying this but if you are disputing this then it shouldnt go to a debt collector

Please some one correct me if I am wrong

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it was the landlord. not that i will pay for the locksmith but am i legally entitled to see the original invoice?

If i was your landlord then he certainly should not have done this without notifying you, why you are being charged for this I have no idea, it certainly IS NOT down to you to be charged for this, but the bill should have been sent to the landlord.

 

something for you to read.

The landlord or the agent may change the door locks when the tenant's rents are delinquent, but must give written notice by posting it on the front door of the rented premises. In the case of a residential tenancy, the notice must state (1) an on-site location where the tenant may go 24 hours a day to obtain the new key or a telephone number that is answered 24 hours a day that the tenant may call to have a key delivered within two hours after calling the number; (2) the fact that the landlord must provide the new key to the tenant at any hour, regardless of whether or not the tenant pays any of the delinquent rent; and (3) the amount of rent and other charges for which the tenant is delinquent. The requirements relating to changing locks on residences may still apply in the case of a space leased for both residential and business purposes, and despite the fact that the occupant has a homestead elsewhere.

In the case of a commercial tenancy, the notice must state the name and address or telephone number of the individual or company where the new key may be obtained. The new key must be provided only during the tenant's regular business hours, and only if the tenant pays the delinquent rent.

A residential landlord may not intentionally prevent a tenant from entering the leased premises by changing the locks unless the tenant is delinquent in paying all or part of the rent. Additionally, the landlord must give proper notice, locally mailing the notice not later than the fifth calendar day before the locks are changed. The notice may also be hand-delivered to the tenant or posted on the inside of the main entry door of the tenant's dwelling not later than the third calendar day before the lock changing date. The notice must specify the earliest date that the landlord proposes to change the door locks, the amount of rent the tenant must pay to prevent changing of the door locks, and give the name and street address of the individual to whom, or the location of the on-site management office at which, the delinquent rent may be paid during the landlord's normal business hours.

Furthermore, a landlord may not change the locks on the door of a tenant's dwelling on a day, or on a day immediately before a day, on which the landlord or other designated individual is not available, or on which any on-site management office is not open, for the tenant to tender the delinquent rent. A landlord who makes use of the right to change locks must still provide the tenant with a key to the changed lock on the dwelling without regard to whether the tenant pays the delinquent rent. If a landlord arrives at the dwelling in a timely manner in response to a tenant's telephone call, and the tenant is not present to receive the key to the changed lock, the landlord must leave a notice on the front door of the dwelling stating the time the landlord arrived with the key and the street address to which the tenant may go to obtain the key during the landlord's normal office hours.

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I would write to both the agency and the landlord stating that you are not responsible for payment with regards to the changing of the locks, and that you should have been given prior notice or at least been given keys via the agency where the landlord should have dropped them off so you could gain access to your home. Like I have said your landlord cannot change the locks willy nilly when he feels like it, there has to be good reason. I am presuming that because the locksmith had to be recalled out to change the locks again so that you had keys to get in that this is what they are trying to charge you for. Well they cannot charge you for this and the bill should have been sent to the landlord. As much as I would agree with discod on other occasions, I would suggest that you maybe email the DCA stating that this debt is being disputed and ask that they place it on hold until it has been fully resolved by your agents and Landlord. What ever you do dont call them they will just give a load of garb at you.

 

have a look here and maybe have a chat with these people they may be able to provide further info about this. you could also have a word with your local housing officer at the council who may also be able to give you advice on what to do next, they may write to your landlord on your behalf stating that what he has done was wrong, maybe not so much illegal as he wasnt trying to evict you but may straighten out a few things that he should know. Your agents included

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Letting agent got back to me and their reason for not having keys to access the property is as follows:

 

When builders take on a job that requires an excess amount of working days and which the tenants agree upon, then the keys are signed out and held by the builder until the completion of the work. In this case, the keys were with the builder who was working on fixing the outstanding items in the XXX property, in and around the Christmas / New Year period. The XXX office was closed during this period, however I, by chance, was in the office for administration purposes and responded to your call- subsequently assisting you in entering into the property.

 

Their reason for not showing me an invoice from the actual locksmith company is as follows:

 

You requested a service to be provided on your behalf through XXX (the agency). This is the reason why an invoice has been produced by XXX. The company that provides / brokers a service on behalf of the client, invoices the client.

 

Are these both legitimate reasons??

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