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Accidental Landlord (and Tenant) Being Held To Ransom By Letting Agency

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APologies for a long post but I have actually tried to keep this brief!


In March last year, we had a leak reported in our roof, despite instructing the agency to repair, it took a complaint to the director and several months until it was fixed (in July).


At the end of October, we had a leak reported in exactly the same place, the agency called back the contractor who said the work was fine and he could see no problem. We were left to ask agent to find another contractor - it took a while for them to come out and do the repair - at one point I even phone the agency who told me the work had been done and the tenant had told them how happy they were - this was simply not true, when they did it didn't work and we were left weeks waiting for them to come back, they never did, despite repeat assurance from the agency that he was coming. (we refused to pay for this work).


Despite chasing the agency regularly and even sending photos of the damage that was getting worse there was no urgency on their part - they even sent us an email to say they had emailed 3 contractors ... no urgency despite the weather being terrible and the damage getting worse.


Eventually at the turn of the year we had to step in despite being 300 miles away and get the repair done ourselves. The problem was the ageing of the brick work so that when consistent rain, the chimney could only absorb so much and then began leaking through. There was no sign of any other leak either internally or externally - yet due to the time taken by the agency to fix the original repair ie not until summer, we could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the original repair was not uo to standard.


So we are left with costs, damage, an unhappy tenant at being messed around by the agency.


On a separate note, when it became legal requirement to have carbon monoxide alarms, they emailed to say they would be fitted when they came into stock - by January they had still not dealt with this and again we had to take action ourselves to rectify this. Our agent had left us in breach of the law and also potentially put our tenant at risk.


We gave notice of repudiatory breach of contract as we were now having to manage the property our selves, they had failed in their duty of care in numerous ways and neither us nor the tenant simply trust them to manage the property anymore.


They however of course have disputed this and stated that they expect the management fee to be paid until the end of the tenancy - ie we would have to evict our tenant.


I'm concerned as to the best way to go forward - the property ombudsman is incredibly slow and in past experience tend to side with the agents. I am considering the county court route but am then concerned that if they dispute this I will then have to incur serious legal costs to get this through with the potential cost of losing. I don't want to just stop paying them the fee and then risk a CCJ against my name either.


Does anyone have any experience of this kind of matter or can advise on the best options?

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Read terms of your Contract closely and seek advice from Solic.

Does it say you cannot cancel for duration of current T or whilst current T remains in occupation?

If the former, get T to serve due NTQ (1 month) with promise of consecutive new T.

The latter is prob an unfair Contract term or condition.

If you joined NLA/RLA you could get free prof advice,

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Unfortunately it's until the tenant vacates the property on a permanent basis.


I'll have a look at those sites. My question is as much general legal....If I raise county court claim it's low cost but if they dispute the claim there will then be a hearing and my costs could escalate?


That's the case isn't it?


Given the ins and outs of what has gone on I can't see how this can't be a repudiation breach but I can afford to take the risk of huge costs as this is the kind of agency that will do whatever they can just to make a point

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Claims heard on the small claims track, which yours almost certainly would be, generally have very limited costs other than the court costs, the other party would not, for example, be able to claim 1000s in solicitors costs, though they will almost certainly threaten to do so in order to put you off continuing.


Do your research, and write a letter before action detailing exactly what you are claiming and why, and then follow through. The small claims procedure itself is quite straightforward. If you're not prepared to follow through and do the work, then you're better off just dropping the claim now.


"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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My personal view is that you are mad to trust an agent to deal with potentially complicated leaks.


I'd be interested to know what your contract says about your agent's obligation.


On a separate note, when it became legal requirement to have carbon monoxide alarms...


It is a legal requirement if you have a solid fuel appliance (coal or wood).


It is not a legal requirement if you have gas.


You may know this. Some agents do not.

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