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danldn76

How long can a landlord delay signing the contract after receiving the payment? ** RESOLVED **

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Hello,

 

I am due to move into my new flat on 11 December. I made an offer for it over three weeks ago, which was accepted by the landlord on 18 October (3 weeks ago). I then went successfully through reference checking and all that, and on 25 October (16 days ago) I made the payment for the first month of rent and the six-week deposit, plus various fees (in total circa £4500).

 

The issue is that, as of today, the landlord has not yet signed the contract; the lettings agency say they are trying to get a hold of him but he is not returning their calls, the last time they spoke to him was "some time last week". they say they are sure he will sign eventually but cannot tell me when as they do not manage to speak to him.

 

I am concerned that something may be going wrong on the landlord's side and that he may not sign at all in the end, otherwise I see no reason for such a huge delay. As my move-out date is approaching and the lettings agency keeps telling me that they can't do anything but insist calling him, I am getting more and more worried and am thinking of looking for alternative solutions, i.e. considering finding another flat. But as they have my deposit I feel my hands are untied, at least until either he signs or he pulls back from the agreement.

 

The questions that I have are:

1) Does the landlord have an open-ended option to sign the lease whenever he wants, and possibly never sign? Can he basically keep me on hold until 11 December? Or is there such a thing as a "reasonable time" after which I can withdraw my offer without my incurring in any cost (i.e. I get everything back)?

2) Is the agency or the landlord to be considered liable for any of this? If I need to look for another flat, I will have again to take time off from work, go through the annoying and frustrating flat-hunting again, which I suspended because both of them agreed to signing a contract (as proved by offer acceptance letters, reference checking, deposit, etc.).

 

I am trying to put some pressure to the agency but they are a bit helpless (and useless).

 

Thanks,

 

Daniele

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How did you pay and who to?

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I paid everything to the agency via bank transfers.

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That's good news, at least you can't be dealing with a landlord who will take off with your money which can be a concern. You've paid the agency and if anything does go drastically wrong it's them who will have to pay you back. Unfortunately you are stuck between a rock and a hard place waiting for a contract. I know it can sometimes be the case that they're signed very close to move in date, even as you pick up the keys.

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Is there any action that I can take to get the agency to put some pressure on the landlord?

 

What happens if eventually he does not sign even the day before the move-in date? I guess I am getting everything back but then I will be home-less...

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There is an unwritten Contract to 'supply/occupy' on agreed date, evidenced by payments made, but not an AST until you sign/occupy.

If either renages before ASTactivated, the other is entitled to limited compensation.

Why did you pay so early?

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I paid so early because the add came on in mid October (for occupancy as of 11 December). Then it took about 10 days for the offer to be accepted and going through references, after which they asked to pay one month + 6 weeks for deposit + fees, which I did on 25 october.

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A while ago a friend nearly paid an agency a lot of money in advance without seeing a contract first.

 

In the process of investigation we visited several agents to ask them their policy and they all said they would not take large sums without first having a contract to sign. At most they would take their fees and a small holding deposit.

 

In this case the agent was suspect and incompetent, and refused point blank to provide a contract.

 

I suggest you review your agent - is it a sound company with a history? Have they given you an adequate receipt? Have they protected the deposit (they should protect the depost within 30 days of receiving the deposit, but there is no reason for delaying)? Have they actually done referencing?

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If things go to plan no harm has been done as this is all still in the future. However, if the agency go bust you are stuffed

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The agency they have 60 offices in london, I don't think they pose any default risk ATM. They actually requested a smaller holding deposit when the offer got accepted to take it off the market, then they went through referencing via an agency called home let, after which they asked me to pay the rest and said the contract should arrive within a matter of days. To be honest I tend to believe they are in good faith, what I find very suspicious is that they have been trying to contact the landlord for a week now and he is not returning any call.

Edited by Andyorch
removed Agency name

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LL could be on holiday abroad with no access to mobile or email.

Keep in touch with LA.

IMO LA should only have taken holding deposit before AST was signed.

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I spoke to the agency today. All the money I have paid is with them, so it is not in the hands of a yet-unknown landlord, in the worst case scenario it shouldn't be difficult to get it back, apart from maybe the holding deposit and admin fee.

 

As for the landlord being on holiday, I find it quite weird that he accepts the offer, signs the terms of business with the agency, and then does not mention that he is going to disappear for some time, with no access to email. Whatever the reason for his disappearance, if he does not sign in time i am screwed.

 

The question for me now is whether I should start seriously looking for alternatives. My landlord is happy to renew my tenancy but I need to confirm this by the end of next week. I think the most rational and less risky approach for me would be to try to pull out from this new tenancy and extend the old one, if the new landlord is not returning calls by mid next week. Otherwise it may happen that I will have to look for a flat in December and have very few days to do it, which is a nightmare to me...

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You need to read the separate Agreement you have with LA. If you withdraw your Application now, you may only get T deposit returned.

Have you formally given current LL your NTQ? When does it expire?

 

 

Please remove name of LA from your OP.

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The agreement with the LA does say that if I pull out I lose the holding deposit. I went in person this morning and discussed the issue. They said it never happened to them to have such a situation (i.e. landlord disappearing right before signing). I asked that they set a deadline for mid next week so that I can pull out without incurring into any cost. The guy took a note but not sure they are gonna let me do that, the Agreement unfortunately says if I pull out i will lose the holding deposit. However I made it clear that they are not providing the service I am paying for, i.e. mediating between myself and the landlord, and if they do not let me go without extra costs I will seek legal advice for compensation of any cost I would have to face if the landlord does not sign. I will write them an email regarding this to have this in writing. Not sure that works, I am not a lawyer, but for sure I will not let them force me to be in a situation whereby I could find myself homeless on 11 December.

 

The old tenancy expires on 13 December, there was no formal notification by either party, apart from email exchanges saying he would not renew. However, the managing agency has confirmed that I have until the end of next week to decide whether I want to stay in the old flat, that's why I am trying to get the LA to either break my contract, or get the landlord to sign.

 

 

(I don't know how to remove the name of the agency, from the old post, can't see an edit button.)

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Apologies, I forgot posters have only 10 mins to edit a post, but a senior mod has removed the name for you as site rules do not permit identifying Co's or individuals, for your own, and Forum, legal protection.

New LL only has to confirm or not his intention to LA, he does not have to sign anything in person on the day, LA can sign on his behalf.

The LA does not work for you, just the LL, but you can remind them that if property not avail to occupy on agreed date, you may sue LL for consequential expenses ie approx. 14 days in budget hotel/B&B, removal & storage costs for similar duration, additional application fees a LA may require & poss any increase in rent for similar property you may find.

Current LL cannot evict you without due notice, at end of fixed term, but you would be required to give him min 1 month NTQ after end of fixed term. Best solution - negotiate staying on with 1 mo rent paid on 13 Dec.

The choice is yours. Keep us updated.

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There is finally a happy ending to this. On Friday morning I went to the LA and made it clear that I wanted a deadline by the following week, after which I wanted to pull out at zero cost, otherwise I would have held them responsible for the costs incurred in case the letting had fallen through, and was going to seek legal advice in order to safeguard my interests. Then I rang in the afternoon, and they said "Ironically, the moment you walked out of the office, the landlord's wife called saying he'd been ill and working very long shifts, and apologised for not signing earlier" (BTW, typically when you are ill you work very long shifts, don't you?) Long story short, I got the signed contract in the evening. Not sure what happened there, I don't believe what they say, the only conclusion i can draw is that raising my voice was the the only way to make things proceed faster and obtain what was right.

 

Thanks everyone for you contribution!

Edited by danldn76

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Well done, I'm pleased you have a happy outcome. :)

 

I'll amend your thread title to reflect this.

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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not raising your voice but promising to take LA's money from them. The are supposed to work for the LL but many behave as though it is all theirs to do what they like with.

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