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1. It is an actionable defamation to write an incorrect reference based on false information about a tenant to a prospective new landlord. So here, I would advise you to sue the estate agents for defamation. You should get yourself a solicitor and get the solicitor to write to the estate agents getting a full and proper reference for you and also damages for the defamation which has occurred. It is simply not good enough to become the meat in a sandwich between these estate agents and your landlord.
2. Essentially, the estate agents have acted unlawfully here. You can make a complaint to the Property Ombudsman Scheme about your estate agents as they must be a member of a complaints resolution scheme. Go to www.tpos.co.uk and make a complaint there.
3. However, there will be substantial damages for what the estate agents have done. There might be more money in this than simply getting a new correct reference. However, first you should get yourself a good solicitor and reach some fee agreement to take proceedings on your behalf.
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