The landlord, Mrs H, entered into a guaranteed rent arrangement with the Agent. However, following a series of rental payments being missed, Mrs H instructed the Agent to regain possession of the property. After a number of months, Mrs H became concerned about the time being taken and, following a number of her letters not being responded to, raised a complaint.
The guaranteed rent arrangement was such that the Agent entered into a tenancy agreement as the tenant with Mrs H as the landlord. That tenancy agreement gave the Agent permission to sublet the property which they had done. However, following the sub-tenant withholding rent, the Agent stopped paying rent to Mrs H. I found no evidence to suggest that the Agent had sought to explain their reasons for doing so and, as the tenancy agreement confirmed that the Agent was the tenant, regardless of the subtenant’s actions, I considered the Agent liable to pay rent to Mrs H. Regarding the length of time taken to obtain possession, I found that over 12 months had passed since Mrs H gave notice to the Agent to regain possession of the property and that in that time the Agent had incorrectly served notice on the sub-tenant once and had failed to promptly act upon the expiry of a second notice. Finally, I found that the Agent had failed to respond to Mrs H’s letter of complaint or any correspondence thereafter despite the clear requirements of Section 15 of the TPO Code of Practice.
I considered that the Agent had failed to act in accordance with their obligations under Paragraph 11a of the TPO Code of Practice insofar as they had failed to correctly serve the appropriate notices on the sub-tenant. I also considered that the Agent was liable for the rent under the terms of the tenancy with Mrs H and, upon receiving my Review, the Agent agreed to release the rent. However, given the Agent’s complaint handling, notices failures and the time taken for matters to be resolved, I made a further award of £900.
It is imperative that Agents ensure that their staff are appropriately trained in order to correctly draft and serve legal notices, if such a service is not to be provided by a solicitor. Paragraph 1b of the TPO Code of Practice requires agency staff to be full conversant with all aspects of the TPO Code, their legal responsibilities and the relevant legislation.