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LA Trying for more money from us...

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We moved into our current home back in April of this year, signing a 6 month AST, paying all the LAs fees, including ones that they forgot to mention until we came to sign etc etc. At the end of the 6 month AST period, we received the expected letter giving us the choice of signing up to a repeat of the old AST for a fee, getting a new contract negotiated for a larger fee, or allowing the tenancy to go into a statutory periodic tenancy. All as we were expecting as this was what we were told by the LA would occur.

 

Earlier today however we received a phone call from the LA, in which they stated that:-

 

"We have now brought in a new policy that ALL tenants must have a tenancy agreement. Our records show that you do not have one as it expired. As such in January you will be required to pay use £150 to draw up new contracts for you to sign in order to renew your tenancy agreement, or if you pay before December 20th we can do it for you for just £90..."

 

Now I have done a bit of research already before posting this, and it would appear that our tenancy agreement has NOT expired, all that has expired is our 6 month assured period, changing to a 1 month periodic tenancy, meaning that we DO still have a tenancy agreement as per the contract originally signed, just with a different period for notice given for quiting the property.

 

So, am I right in thinking that the LA is just trying it on here? Given that there reasons for basically demanding we pay for new contracts and sign a new agreement are that they "have a new policy"? If so, how should we proceed from here?

 

Thanks in advance for your help.

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I assume when you say “LA” you mean letting agent.

 

I’m a landlord of three properties.

At the moment I’m not using any letting agents. My experience is they charge both tenants and landlords too much and upset the tenants.

 

I don’t charge anything for tenancy agreements, inventories etc

 

You may have agreed the in advance with the letting agent that you will pay for new tenancy documents, but you say this is a “new policy” so hopefully you haven’t agreed.

 

I don’t know if many landlords insist on renewing the agreement. If you don’t renew it they could give you notice to leave, but I can’t imagine many landlords asking a tenant that’s looking after a property and paying the rent to leave.

Edited by Pat888

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Yes, this is entirely the letting agent.

 

We didn't agree to paying for new tenancy documents no, as you say this was purely the agents phoning us today and claiming they have a new policy taking effect. We haven't agreed to anything, I told them I would get back to them and refused to be drawn on when I would get back to them about it.

 

There's been no mention of the rent going up, or any hint that this has anything to do with the landlord at all, and seems to be entirely something the agents have decided to do in order to make money. As you say, odds are they are trying to get our landlord to pay out for this as well.

 

I'm thinking our next step is probably to write to the agents, with something along the lines of:-

 

////////////

Further to the phone call received on 11/12/2013, it is our understanding after seeking advice that the expiration of our 6 month assured shorthold tenancy does not also cause the expiry of our existing tenancy agreement, and is just a case of the tenancy period changing over to a statutory periodic tenancy (as per your previous communications). As such, this would suggest that the tenancy agreement signed previously is still effective, and as such is in line with your agencies new policies.

 

We do not currently wish to negotiate for a new assured shorthold tenancy period, however if this is not in line with the landlord's wishes we will happily enter into communication with the landlord regarding this.

//////////

 

Or words to this effect.

 

We have no intentions to upset our landlord etc, however I really don't feel that the agents trying to force us to pay another £150 on top of the £1000s we already paid to them (NOT including rent, this was just things like contract charges, credit check charges, gaurantor reference check charges, ok a large part of it was also a BIG deposit because we have pets, but it still came to a VERY big amount of money purely for charges) because of some new "policy" is at all fair. I am in fact quite sure that the landlord is probably none too happy about it either, odds are they're trying to bill him even more than they're trying to get out of us.

 

The agents so far however have been a total waste of space! We've been asking for permissions for ages, for things like getting rubble cleared from the back garden (paying for this ourselves, even though this rubble was there when we moved in), giving the place a lick of paint (again at our expense, inside and out as the outside paintwork is a total mess!), replacing broken fencing (broken before we moved in) even getting a socket repaired in the dininga area that hasn't worked since before we moved in (again offering to pay for this ourselves to be done professionally). The estate agents haven't even passed these request on to the landlord as far as we can tell, leaving us with a back 'garden' that is just a mass of weeds (and was when we moved in) as all we can do is keep strimming them down, and our plants that we brought with us from our old place sat in pots in the back yard and having to run extension cables from the kitchen into the dining area... I also suspect that the £150 will be double to £300 when the time comes, which they did when we first signed for this place as it's a joint tenancy, oh and then they may suddenly announce we need to pay for a new guarantors contract and yet another credit check (depsite the fact we haven't missed a single rent payment).

 

We're on benefits, so to be quite blunt it's just not on. Their timing leaves a lot to be desired too, I have 4 kids, paying them £90 5 days before Xmas day just isn't an option for us, and they know this.

 

Sorry to rant, but I really do believe that they're trying it on here. If they had come to us saying "the landlord wants a new assured shorthold tenancy period" I'd be more understanding, as this is a landlords right. Coming to use with "company policy has changed, sorry to drop it on you like this" however is a very different kettle of fish.

 

Oh and good on you for not using an agent! If our experiences so far are anythign to go by, that's a good choice.

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http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/renting_and_leasehold

 

Shelter might be able to advise - they dont just deal with homeless situations and have a pretty good data base in respect of peoples legal rights when renting :)


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As you surmise your AST became SPT on same T&Cs , so you do have a valid T Agreement in place until any valid LL Notice or Ts NTQ expires.

 

Do not respond to their phone call, wait until Jan 13 to see if they send you a letter.

In the meantiime, contact the LL direct and make him aware of this new 'policy', stating you are happy to continue with SPT, if he is happy.

If LA gets stroppy in Jan and tries to levy an extension charge, have letters ready to send to Trading Standards, OFT, any Reg body LA is affiliated to, local LL Assoc and local press, after LL has responded to you. Stay factual and moderate.

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Agree contact LL first and see what he says and what he wants to do about it.

dont do anything until you have done that. Agent works for LL!

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Well I phoned Shelter, and was basically told that I'd just have to pay the money, or risk been sent an S21 notice to quit... So they weren't too helpful. Their only other suggestion was to contact the landlord to discuss it in case he wasn't happy with the fees either, as he is the only one who could stop them from been able to go the S21 route if we refuse to sign up to a new AST.

 

My wife is very anti the idea of dealing direct with the landlord, she's heard too many horror stories of folks been left without heating etc (she doesn't get that the estate agents wouldn't make much difference to this, been just one more link in the chain). So she's ready to just throw in the towel and hand the agents the cash.

 

I still think it's garbage as you folks say, as we DO still have a tenancy agreemeent, that all that ran out was the minimum period AST. However Shelter reckon that unless we are willing to risk been asked to quit then we're just going to have to pay up and sign up. All I can say is, this is one bit of UK law that seriously needs examining, as what's to stop the agents increasing the amount in another 6 months and insisting we have new contracts again?

 

Anyway, looks like between my wife and the agents the best I can hope to do is to try to sort out a 12 month AST rather than a 2nd 6 month 1, at least then we know it will be another 6 months before they come again for their pound of flesh. If they refuse to try to negotiate this, then it will HAVE to be a case of getting direclty in touch with the landlord myself. Will be fun, as the agents have never actually given us his contact details, so here's hoping I don't have to point out their legal obligations for that... lol

 

Anyway, thanks for the advice. I'd be following it, if it wasn't for my wife not wanting to go that route...

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No! just contact the LL as by way enquiry regarding the contract etc.

If he is happy with the situation as it is then LL will instruct agent.

Most agents I know do not charge anything for renewing contracts and LL usually happy with pst with good tenants where there have been no problems; they want to keep them.

I am sure the LL would not be happy if agent tried to issue an S21 over a fee that the agent would get.

Its just a ruse on the part of the agent. You must check with LL.

Pressume deposit is protected and you have all the info.

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As I said, I'm in complete agreement, but my wife vetoed it, no point entering an argument with her about it. I know full well it's a ruse, but my wife just doesn't want to enter into yet another battle (we've already had battles with 2 housing associations and a home furnishings store).

 

I have however managed to negotiate a better deal with the agents. £180 fee for a 12 month AST. So we get a longer AST, they get their pound of flesh. They go away happy with their Christmas party money, the landlord and us go away happy with increased security. Oh and the peace of mind that they're not going to be phoning again in 6 months time demanding another fee out of us. The curious thing is, it would seem that the landlord isn't getting billed a fee or anything, as surely otherwise they would need to check with him before agreeing to a 12 month AST?

 

Oh and yes, our deposit is protected and we kept all of the paperwork. Only thing we don't have is ANY contact details for the landlord. Every time we want to ask permission or get a repair we have to phone the agents... Which is rubbish, as we've been waiting about 8 months now for permission for things as basic as repainting the place (the paint on the outside is actually peeling off....). Oh well, not a win, but not quite as big a loss either. I still can't believe how pessimistic the housing advisor on the shelter help line was... Guess that's just the law though, and her not wanting to give advice that would cause us grief. I'm a battler, but my wife prefers to avoid getting into wrangles. She has clinical depression though, so can't really blame her, and I do need to avoid her feeling too much stress (the idea of 12 month AST is actually comforting to her).

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understand, some things just not worth the stress and hassle ( live a bit longer ).

glad you are ok with the deal you have done.

As long as you have a uk contact address for the landlord, then thats legal.

LL must sign the contract, not agent.

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Thanks Raydetinu, yeah sometimes the fight hurts more than what you are fighting. lol

 

Can't say I am happy paying £180 for them to click print (their contracts are all ready made template ones...) but I guess that unless the government doesn't stop this practice it's just the way the agents are going to make more money.

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