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I have let my house through a letting agent and the tenant is not paying the rent. I had expected the letting agent to carry out checks on the suitability of the tenant before recommending him to me. Can I complain about the letting agent?
For complaints that appear to relate to the handling of tenancy deposits, the Ombudsman will consider whether the agent has breached the terms of his contract with the landlord and/or the provisions of the TPO Code of Practice for Residential Letting Agents. However, the deposit is a matter between the landlord and the tenant and falls under the terms of the tenancy agreement. The Ombudsman is not in a position to adjudicate on the appropriate distribution of the deposit monies.
The Housing Act 2004, introduced tenancy deposit protection for all Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST), in England and Wales where a deposit was taken. From 6 April 2007, all deposits paid under an AST have to be protected via registration with an approved tenancy deposit protection scheme. If your dispute is about the return of a deposit or how it has been administered, you should contact the deposit scheme which is protecting your deposit. Your landlord will be able to give you details of the scheme assuming the landlord or letting agent has registered with one of them. Timescales apply and you should not delay in making contact.
The Deposit Protection Service
Tel: 0844 472 7000
MyDeposits (Tenancy Deposit Solutions Ltd)
Ground Floor, Kingmaker House
Tel: 0844 980 0290
Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)
PO Box 1255
Tel: 0845 226 7837
The Letting Protection Service Scotland
Tel: 0844 472 6666
Tel: 0845 634 5400
There is currently no requirement in Northern Ireland for deposits to be registered with a tenancy deposit scheme.
The simple answer is no they do not. However, should a claim against the deposit arise it would be difficult for the landlord or agent to justify a claim. Therefore, the tenant can state that the property or items within the property were in a certain condition at the start and end of the tenancy and there would be no opportunity to rebut later. It is therefore sensible to incur the cost of having a detailed check in and check out report completed on a property.
Reference to the check in and check out reports should confirm the state of the carpets at the beginning and end of the tenancy. If this was not done, it would be harder for the landlord/agent to claim against the deposit. Tenants should ensure that they receive a copy of the check in and check out reports.
Much will depend upon the contractual arrangements between your landlord and the letting agent. If the letting agent is contacted to manage the property on behalf of the landlord, in the first instance you should contact the letting agent. He should then arrange to obtain quotations for the repair and obtain agreement from the landlord to proceed with the repair. Most landlords will agree to a level of expenditure without the need for referral to them over minor repairs. If the agent is not contracted to manage the property, you will need to contact the landlord directly.
Under the TPO Code of Practice for Letting Agents, the agent is required to carry out referencing enquiries appropriate to the circumstances of the applicant or as instructed by the landlord. This could include using the services of a recognised referencing service provider, by direct application to third party referees, checking the Electoral Roll, viewing previous utility bills of the applicant, driving licence or passport or any combination of these. If the applicant provides his own references, the agent should take reasonable steps to validate their authenticity. Therefore if you believe that the agent has failed to comply with his obligations under the TPO Code of Practice, you should raise a complaint with the agent through his internal complaints procedure and if you remain dissatisfied with the outcome, you may refer your complaint to the Ombudsman.
A landlord may ask to see the references, but there may be some Data Protection issues. As the landlord has contracted a third party to undertake these checks and the tenant may have instructed the agent not to release their details to a third party, which is the landlord. Therefore, if a landlord requires sight of the references, this must be made clear at the start of the tenancy so that the applicant (potential tenant) is aware that their personal details may be shared with the landlord.
It would depend upon the terms and conditions of the landlord's agreement with the letter agent. It is not unusual for the agreement to state that the landlord gives permission for the agent to sign a tenancy agreement on the landlord's behalf.
Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, the agent is required to provide the tenant at commencement of the tenancy or within 21 days of a written request with an address in England and Wales for the tenant to serve notice should they need too. It cannot be a PO Box number. The agent does not have to provide telephone numbers. Details are normally contained within the tenancy agreement.