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Papa Lazarou

Rental Property Move In Date Keeps Getting Moved Back - Fees Paid.

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Hello fellow HPC'ers,

I am looking for some advice please. My girlfriend and I are in the process of renting a place together. We found one on Rightmove, with an available from “20th April”. We were shown round by the letting agent and the couple who own it. We liked the property and the couple. So after a group booking day we decided to put in the offer to rent it, and the landlord chose us from several others.

So as time got closer to the 20th April and much hassling of the LA because things didn’t seem to be moving, we were told that the landlord was still waiting for mortgage approval on another property that he was due to move into as they had to get a letter from the wife’s employer to show intention of her going back to work. We were given a new move in date of 29th May, with the LA saying it could be before but wanted to manage our expectations.

I have just got off the phone from the LA (he never replies to any of the emails I send – perhaps to cover himself I don’t know to be fair). This could all be a lie and we are being strung along, who knows, but the LA is now saying the landlord has had the mortgage approved by Halifax, subject to a survey. The survey is due to be carried out on 29th (our proposed move in date coincidentally), and has given a new ‘target move in date’ of 10th May.

Now here are the issues….

My girlfriend has had to move back to her parents as the contract on the flat she was renting with a friend expired 22nd, so she is living out of boxes with no room for her stuff. Needless to say she is very upset with the delays and I am getting an earful! I am also currently living at my parents.

We have paid money (about £450) for set up costs (references to be carried out, admin, <add other excuse to extort money here>). The price of the fee is what it is, that’s an argument for another day. The real issue is how to get a refund as the 10th May might get put back again and again and the day to move in never comes.

I have told the LA that this is taking too long, it isn’t what we agreed (his word against mine), and in the mean time we may have to look for another property to live in. If we find one in the meantime , then we would obviously want a refund on the setup costs. It got a bit heated at this point because he said he couldn’t guarantee we’d get any of it refunded, but he’d see what he could do; that we had signed a document that says no refund, and that it was subject to contract. We do have a ‘pre-contract’ letter from them detailing a proposed move in date of 29th April. It’s at home and I am at work, but no doubt that says subject to contract on it as well.

Now I don’t have much love for the letting agent as they constantly need to be chased for replies, but I did really like the landlord when I met him. My view is that he is a genuine person, with a wife and a small child who have mistimed how long it takes to get a mortgage through, and have advertised their property to let out, too soon. So this situation is down to them, and by proxy down to the Letting Agent.

Sorry for the essay, but wanted to provide the back story. My questions are….

1] can we get any refund on the ‘set up costs’. At what point does this whole thing become unreasonable!? If so, what is the legal side? Do I have any rights? Talking way ahead and it’s nowhere near this point, but should they refuse can I take them to court? Are there any people I can go to? Surely there should be some recourse for this sort of thing. If only they’d change the law soon….

2] How long would you estimate it would take from the date of the survey being carried out to them getting the keys to their place and being full moved out? Even the 10 day time frame the LA has now added on seems a bit optimistic to me? Best, average and worst case scenarios please!

Needless to say, I am being proactive and viewing another place on Saturday, but I would like the confidence to know that we can get the money back before I go somewhere else. Ultimately I want this all to work out and move into this current place, but something tells me this could just rumble on for a while and that’s just not going to cut it with my girlfriend.

I’d really appreciate any advice you can give me.

Thanks

Papa.

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Hello fellow HPC'ers,

I am looking for some advice please. My girlfriend and I are in the process of renting a place together. We found one on Rightmove, with an available from “20th April”. We were shown round by the letting agent and the couple who own it. We liked the property and the couple. So after a group booking day we decided to put in the offer to rent it, and the landlord chose us from several others.

So as time got closer to the 20th April and much hassling of the LA because things didn’t seem to be moving, we were told that the landlord was still waiting for mortgage approval on another property that he was due to move into as they had to get a letter from the wife’s employer to show intention of her going back to work. We were given a new move in date of 29th May, with the LA saying it could be before but wanted to manage our expectations.

I have just got off the phone from the LA (he never replies to any of the emails I send – perhaps to cover himself I don’t know to be fair). This could all be a lie and we are being strung along, who knows, but the LA is now saying the landlord has had the mortgage approved by Halifax, subject to a survey. The survey is due to be carried out on 29th (our proposed move in date coincidentally), and has given a new ‘target move in date’ of 10th May.

Now here are the issues….

My girlfriend has had to move back to her parents as the contract on the flat she was renting with a friend expired 22nd, so she is living out of boxes with no room for her stuff. Needless to say she is very upset with the delays and I am getting an earful! I am also currently living at my parents.

We have paid money (about £450) for set up costs (references to be carried out, admin, <add other excuse to extort money here>). The price of the fee is what it is, that’s an argument for another day. The real issue is how to get a refund as the 10th May might get put back again and again and the day to move in never comes.

I have told the LA that this is taking too long, it isn’t what we agreed (his word against mine), and in the mean time we may have to look for another property to live in. If we find one in the meantime , then we would obviously want a refund on the setup costs. It got a bit heated at this point because he said he couldn’t guarantee we’d get any of it refunded, but he’d see what he could do; that we had signed a document that says no refund, and that it was subject to contract. We do have a ‘pre-contract’ letter from them detailing a proposed move in date of 29th April. It’s at home and I am at work, but no doubt that says subject to contract on it as well.

Now I don’t have much love for the letting agent as they constantly need to be chased for replies, but I did really like the landlord when I met him. My view is that he is a genuine person, with a wife and a small child who have mistimed how long it takes to get a mortgage through, and have advertised their property to let out, too soon. So this situation is down to them, and by proxy down to the Letting Agent.

Sorry for the essay, but wanted to provide the back story. My questions are….

1] can we get any refund on the ‘set up costs’. At what point does this whole thing become unreasonable!? If so, what is the legal side? Do I have any rights? Talking way ahead and it’s nowhere near this point, but should they refuse can I take them to court? Are there any people I can go to? Surely there should be some recourse for this sort of thing. If only they’d change the law soon….

2] How long would you estimate it would take from the date of the survey being carried out to them getting the keys to their place and being full moved out? Even the 10 day time frame the LA has now added on seems a bit optimistic to me? Best, average and worst case scenarios please!

Needless to say, I am being proactive and viewing another place on Saturday, but I would like the confidence to know that we can get the money back before I go somewhere else. Ultimately I want this all to work out and move into this current place, but something tells me this could just rumble on for a while and that’s just not going to cut it with my girlfriend.

I’d really appreciate any advice you can give me.

Thanks

Papa.

Sounds horrid, best of luck. I don't have much in the way of useful advice but I'll be keen to see what your position is, especially since there is absolutely nowt you can do about it. If you had signed an AST, I'd say the problem is the owners to deal with, but if you've not then it's a bit trickier.

The reason you rent is (partly) to avoid being caught up in the sort of hassles that arise from buying and selling. The couple who own are being complete morons by trying to align a rental deal exactly with their purchasing decisions. The LA is not exactly too clever either for marketing this if they knew what the score was. All round feckwittery, it seems.

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Sounds horrid, best of luck. I don't have much in the way of useful advice but I'll be keen to see what your position is, especially since there is absolutely nowt you can do about it. If you had signed an AST, I'd say the problem is the owners to deal with, but if you've not then it's a bit trickier.

The reason you rent is (partly) to avoid being caught up in the sort of hassles that arise from buying and selling. The couple who own are being complete morons by trying to align a rental deal exactly with their purchasing decisions. The LA is not exactly too clever either for marketing this if they knew what the score was. All round feckwittery, it seems.

Thanks Cheeznbreed. Literally the only person not in the wrong here is me, yet they are charging me £480 for it. You are quite right, I don't need all this hassle and stress. I am merely a lowly tenant.

Does anyone else know the legalities? In the terms and conditions of the 'Tenancy Declaration form', number 4 states "If the application passed the credit check and the landlord does not proceed, a full refund of the advance payment will be made".

I think that is the line I am going to have to use, legally speaking. Although no AST has been signed, we did receive a second letter titled 'subject to contract' that includes the line "The following conditions / requirements agreed: [...] start of tenancy (30/04/13)....".

So I think by the us not being in the property by this agreed date then, referring back to number 4 of the terms and conditions ("landlord does not proceed" ) then surely the landlord has not proceeded with the agreement?

Otherwise, I could be waiting until September and they are saying 'just one more week'. I feel like I have a really strong case here for a full refund.

Is there anywhere I can go to? Trading Standards? It's a £500 claim, so it will cost more in legal fees - but I can't let them have the money, I just can't.

On the flip side and trying to remain positive, if anyone can provide experience or a rough guess of how long it takes to get the keys to a no chain property once the mortgage is approved in principle and the survey by the mortgage company is happening this coming Tuesday, that would be great. Am I right in thinking the 10 days the LA has added on to the potential move in date is outrageously optimistic - and I am being strung along bit by bit for a much longer wait? I guess the last thing the LA wants to have to do is re market the property again and do another open day!!!

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Have you got anything in writing?

Even if not, you might have good evidence: an advert showing a date, the date when you paid, the arrangements you made to move out of your previous place.

Might be worth taking advice from a lawyer or CAB, both on getting your money back and on claiming compensation for your trouble.

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Hopefully you have enough written evidence to cover all of this?

My feeling is that they have broken their side of the contract (or at least the LL has) and you are due a full refund.

Why not use the small claims court or at least the threat of the small claims court? I've found that this works for me in similar situations. It doesn't cost $500. Last time I used it was less than £100. You get that money back if you win the claim but just threatening agents with this has been enough for me in the past.

The agent would need to sue the LL for misleading them if they are out of pocket or to just absorb the costs if they still think it is worth to wait and see of the property ever becomes available.

We viewed a flat in London through an agent, paid over a deposit to them (including the credit checks etc) and then discovered that the LL had already let the flat to someone else. The agent dragged their feet about returning our deposit as they said they would find us another flat.

I wrote to them (a registered letter) and gave them 7 days to send a cheque for the deposit. When they did not respond I wrote again to let them know that I would start proceeding in the small claims court to recover the money if I did not recieve a cheque within another 7 days. I also explained that the costs of the court would be borne by them if I had to start proceeding plus any others costs incurred by me. This did the trick finally.

The reason that I did this is that with my earlier small claims court cases it had been apparant that my solid paper trail and being "reasonable" had helped to win the cases. The "reasonable" part is that I set out my case to the person who has my money, give them time to pay me or to respond and then warn them of the consequences if they don't pay me. Also give them a timeframe for how I intend to proceed.

If you don't feel comfortable with this then consider maybe writing to them and ask for your desposit to be returned pending the property becoming available. Tell them that if it does eventually get mortgaged etc then you would like to be first in line but that in the mean time you would like your money back and to look elsewhere.

Hope this helps. Good luck.

Edited by Flopsy

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We viewed a flat in London through an agent, paid over a deposit to them (including the credit checks etc) and then discovered that the LL had already let the flat to someone else.

That sounds more like downright fraud (albeit by the LL on the LA and thence on you as collateral), and you were on what looks to me like pretty solid ground reclaiming your money.

This story sounds a little different:

  1. There could be an argument that it's misunderstanding (of the firm date), not fraud. The landlord hasn't gone and withdrawn altogether.

  2. The tenant has incurred substantial extra trouble/expense over and above money paid to the agent (they quit previous homes and duly moved out), so there could potentially be a much bigger claim than merely a refund.

That makes it quite a lot more complex than your case, and I wouldn't care to hazard a guess as to what legal remedies might or might not be available.

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Thanks everyone. I do have a paper trail (I took a screenshot of the Rightmove advert, I have all my emails I sent to them chasing them up (though they never replied), and I have a letter from them that has the proposed agreed move in date on it, although he said that meant nothing as it was all "subject to contract" and that I had agreed no refund.

The even more insulting thing is that The Fee Description says the Set up fee of £480 is for "cost of referencing a tenant, part cost in drawing up the tenancy agreement, part cost of the inventory, check in and deposit registration". Out of all those things, the only one they have done or been able to do is the referencing checks. The referencing was carried out via email from a company called 'reference-my-tenant.com'. got their fee structure from their website. They charge agencies £20 a head for reference checks, so at most only £40 has actually been spent by the LA, which makes the £480 seem like extortion.

A friend of the family (also a LA in another part of the country!! ha ha), has suggested that I go and speak to the Landlord at their house to get to the bottom of the situation, so that we know what the real deal is. For all we know the landlord could be much further behind in the process of things than the LA is letting on. After 10 days pass, he could just add on another 10 days, indefinitely. The LA is managing the property, but might not be telling me the whole truth.

Would this be ok to do? Would one polite visit be ok to find out the truth from the horses mouth? or does that amount to harrassment? I will keep it all smiles and blame the LA, just wanted to see if you thought it was an ok thing to do?

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It all depends on whether there is a contract or not. From what you say it is difficult to offer an opinion.

If the basic terms (the property to be taken, the rent, the start date and length of term) were agreed on and it can be shown that there was an offer which was accepted, there is a contract. If there is a contract then the start date must be known and you are entitled to be let into occupation on that date. If the landlord fails to comply with the contract you are entitled to damages to cover any loss you sustain arising from the breach.

If there is no contract then you have no rights in respect of the property. If you were withdrawing simply because you had changed your mind, how much you can get back depends on what the payment was for and the conditions on which it was paid. Any condition that any sum paid is completely non-refundable can be disregarded and only such sum as is reasonable can be retained. Here though you are considering withdrawing because the goalposts have been moved - you are not getting what you thought you were getting when you paid the money over. Accordingly I suggest you are entitled to a full refund.

Edited by Damocles

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It all depends on whether there is a contract or not. From what you say it is difficult to offer an opinion.

If the basic terms (the property to be taken, the rent, the start date and length of term) were agreed on and it can be shown that there was an offer which was accepted, there is a contract. If there is a contract then the start date must be known and you are entitled to be let into occupation on that date. If the landlord fails to comply with the contract you are entitled to damages to cover any loss you sustain arising from the breach.

If there is no contract then you have no rights in respect of the property. If you were withdrawing simply because you had changed your mind, how much you can get back depends on what the payment was for and the conditions on which it was paid. Any condition that any sum paid is completely non-refundable can be disregarded and only such sum as is reasonable can be retained. Here though you are considering withdrawing because the goalposts have been moved - you are not getting what you thought you were getting when you paid the money over. Accordingly I suggest you are entitled to a full refund.

Yes. The goalpost have certainly been moved. Thank you to everyone for helping. I'll update the thread when there's an outcome!

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Hi all.

Just an update to tell you how this all panned out. They gave me back £180 and said that was all I would be getting from the total of £480 paid.

So I wrote a formal complaint to the regional manager of the company, detailing the chronological order of events and the grounds for which I was seeking redress, citing lots of stuff from the Property Ombudsman's code of practice. I informed them that as per the Ombudsman's advice, they had 8 weeks to reply to my complaint, after which I would be forwarding it to the Ombudsman if the resolution wasn't satisfactory.

I sent the complaint letter recorded delivery, and I had an email from the manager the very same day they got the complaint saying that I could have my money back and that they wished the matter could have been sorted internally before involving the Ombudsman. I told them that their local manager's "That's all you'll be getting" was pretty clear.

The balance of £300 arrived in my account this morning.

As at this time the landlord is still living in the property in question, so I am glad I pulled the plug as this could have carried on indefinitely.

I move into my new rental property on Saturday with a different company.

My advice to you from all this, other than Letting Agents are <insert abusive word here>, is never rent from a landlord who is currently living in the property that is being advertised, ensure they aren't in the process of trying to buy somewhere else to move into, and avoid any amateur landlords that are 'letting to buy' because they have no experience of how to handle the process and don't appreciate the problems the delays cause. Also because they have no experience they may offer you the world (such as letting you keep the sofas as part of the inventory, only to later realise they have to take them out because they have no fire stickers. that kind of thing).

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You may have let them off lightly, by failing to pursue them for damages over arrangements you'd made on the strength of your contract. As in,

My girlfriend has had to move back to her parents as the contract on the flat she was renting with a friend expired 22nd, so she is living out of boxes with no room for her stuff. Needless to say she is very upset with the delays and I am getting an earful! I am also currently living at my parents.

But IANAL. What I say is likely to be legally nonsense.

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to be honest I just wanted to get on with my life. If I threatened more they may not have given me the £300 into my account immediately and I'd get bogged down in something that would cost me more in stress and time than I'd likely get back.

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to be honest I just wanted to get on with my life. If I threatened more they may not have given me the £300 into my account immediately and I'd get bogged down in something that would cost me more in stress and time than I'd likely get back.

Glad to hear you got some satisfaction in the end, even if the hassle is not compensated for. What a bunch of utter loons(agents+owners).

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Interesting thread, and I'm glad the OP got his money back. It's just a shame your girlfriend had to go through the upheaval of moving out.

It highlights a whole host of problems with the private rented sector that many of us have encountered on multiple occasions.

1 - Moving in dates

When arranging to move into my current flat, I never got a clear confirmation of a moving in date until I was well and truly committed to moving out of my previous flat. There was no turning back for me, but I could have easily have failed a reference check or the LL could have taken a better offer. I would have been on my ****. I even emailed the LA asking if everything was totally confirmed, to which she responded with a vague and non committal "I think it's safe to assume a moving date of xxx now".

2 - Not enough choice

Whilst the OP suggests some excellent advice about which landlords to avoid (don't rent from a have a go landlord, don't rent from a landlord that is currently living in a property), many renters simply don't have that option to be picky, especially in an overheated rental market like the South East. Many private renters are desperate to move or even find a half decent place to live, and if they don't want a particular property, someone else will.

3 - Letting agents - turkeys voting for Christmas

Whenever I deal with letting agents, I usually notice that they are young (in their 20s). It is therefore fair to assume that they themselves are likely to be in private rented, or living at home with their parents. So why oh why do they choose to treat other fellow renters so badly? Why do they feel the need to get as much money from you, or, as in this case, prevent you from getting your money back despite being clearly the party at fault? Unless they will personally lose money from you getting a refund on your fees, I will never understand.

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3 - Letting agents - turkeys voting for Christmas

Whenever I deal with letting agents, I usually notice that they are young (in their 20s). It is therefore fair to assume that they themselves are likely to be in private rented, or living at home with their parents. So why oh why do they choose to treat other fellow renters so badly? Why do they feel the need to get as much money from you, or, as in this case, prevent you from getting your money back despite being clearly the party at fault? Unless they will personally lose money from you getting a refund on your fees, I will never understand.

It is odd, my guess is they generally live at home with their parents and simply believe they will never have to rent themselves, they probably think their family is rich based on some fantasy value of their parents property and look down their noses at renters for being such losers. As time goes on of course the attitude will change and is already changing, renting will become an indicator of youth more than anything else!

In general though letting agents are just terrible human beings, they lie and rip people off all day every day. If they weren't warped before they started that line of 'work' they will be after a short time of it. A lot of people are just nasty and vile, lettings agents necessarily have more than their share.

I usually feel sorry for them, what a job, what a life. When I have to deal with them I try and get it over as quickly as possible, its like scooping a poop when you walk the dog, nasty but necessary. They have to live in the dog cr4p bin so think yourself lucky and have some pity.

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  • 242 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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