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Thomas
Thomas, Lawyer
Category: UK Law
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Experience:  BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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Hi. I just want to illustrate a situation I experienced in

Resolved Question:

Hi. I just want to illustrate a situation I experienced in my house in the Midlands of the UK. I live in the far east and use a letting agent to look after the house, which was fully furnished. During the tenancy, the letting agent stopped trading and passed the property management to another agency, only after consulting me. The tenant's rental payments were always erratic, but it became unsustainable at one point. When the agency finally investigated, it turned out that the house had been sublet by the tenant to a relative as he had moved abroad. At this point, as the payments didn't improve and the arrears became very large, a section 21 was issued. When the tenant vacated the property, I was told by the agent that the whole house needed repainting and two doors changing. Also, the garden was "so full of rubbish" (agent's words), that they had to hire a skip to remove it at a cost of £205 to me. The tenant's deposit was kept as it amounted to £895, whereas the expenses to return the house to a lettable state were around £1000. After the work was done, the letting agent advertised the property on their website and I was flabbergasted to see that not one stick of furniture was left in the house. The letting agent had clearly omitted to check the previous inventories and I was unable to follow the matter personally given that I live abroad. I am deducing that the "rubbish" in the garden was actually what was left of my furniture; if this was not the case, then the tenant effectively stole it. Could you advise me on my rights in this case please? Of course, I have difficulty in following court cases as I live in the far east. Thanks in advance.
Santo Prattico.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Thomas replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

Has the tenant's deposit been deducted in full?

How much out of pocket are you?

Have the agents accepted any responsibility for the missing items?

Were the previous inventories made available to the property management company?

What ideally would you like to happen?

Tom
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hello Thomas, thanks for the reply. Yes, the tenant's deposit of £895 was totally deducted. The total rental arrears is £1820 + the value of the furniture which runs into a few thousand pounds minus depreciation (one bed alone was worth £1100 when it was bought). The agent had all the inventories from the previous agent; they accepted some responsibility by apologising for not telling me that the furniture was missing and offering me £100 discount on the next tenancy. Ideally, I would like to think that a tenant is not allowed to leave the property and either totally trash/steal the furniture without going unpunished, and to know whether the agency can be made responsible for negligence somehow: the irony is that I probably had to pay over £200 for the skip to throw away my own furniture. I need to know if a landlord has any rights at all in these cases, otherwise I may as well sell the property.


 


Thanks


Santo

Expert:  Thomas replied 1 year ago.
Hi Santo

Thanks for your patience. The website has experienced technical difficulties which has meant that I have not been able to answer.

If there is damage to the property or the tenant has taken your furniture then this would be a clear breach of contract. You would be entitled to deduct the full amount of the deposit held and (if that did not cover it) sue the tenant for any further damages that you have suffered as a result of their breach.

If you have a contract on a full management basis with the agent then they should carry out their service in accordance with the express terms of their written agreement with you (check to see if they have breached any) but also with the implied term to carry out their service with a reasonable care and skill under Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 (s13).

The question is who is responsible for the loss of the items. As you say, if they had correct inventories listing the items from the old agent then they should have checked the tenant out with these. So, it certainly appears that the agent has not carried out the service with a care and skill in this regard.

If they arranged for the items to be placed in the skip then clearly this is also a breach of the implied term of care and skill.

Their offer to you is paltry. You need to express the terms of the contract, stating how you consider they have been breached by the company. Then state the financial loss that you have suffered and invite them to settle the amount with you otherwise you will issue a claim in county court for the monies on the basis of the breach of contract

Please remember to RATE my answer OK SERVICE, GOOD SERVICE OR EXCELLENT SERVICE or above if you are satisfied that you have received the correct legal advice (even if it is not the answer you wanted to hear), otherwise I do not receive any credit for answering your question.

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Kind regards,


Tom
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Dear XXXXX,


thanks for the reply. I guess I don't have much hope then, as both the agency and I have not been able to track down the tenant to sue them, even after employing a tracing agency. As I already mentioned, the deposit was £895 and more than that was spent on restoring the house's decor. Then there is the question of the £1820 arrears that the tenant had when they were evicted, and in addition, the value of the furniture. Also, even if I wanted to issue a claim to a county court against either the tenant, the agency or both, I would be unable to follow it up as I currently live in China. Thanks anyway.


 


Kind regards


Santo

Expert:  Thomas replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

If the tracing agency can't find the tenant then it's going to be difficult suing them. I would wait a few months then try a difference agency.

Pursuing the agency might be better way forward. If they don't respond to your letter then you can instruct a UK solicitor to write a letter before action to them from where you are. Posturing that you are going to sue them often takes you quite a long way if they believe you are minded to actaually issue a claim.

Please remember to rate my answer.

Tom
Thomas, Lawyer
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Experience: BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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