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jimmylad

Mistake On The New Tenancy Contract (In Our Favour)

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We were asked by our letting agents to go in & sign a new agreement down at the letting agents. When we signed we noticed that the amount had changed from £550 a month down to £435. We just assumed that because this was a 2 year agreement rather than the 6 month agreements we had been signing for the last 6 years & that we had recently decorated & put new carpets in we assumed that the new price was to reflecting the longer term and our improvements. We changed the direct debit accordingly & went away on holiday for 3 weeks.

When we came back we had really snotty letters about being in arrears & phone calls left on the answer machine. I pointed out to them that the payment was in accordance with the new agreement to which they went "Oh".

Now we have been sent a new backdated contract & a text saying please sign the new agreement ASAP otherwise our tenancy will become periodic.

Where do we stand.

Thanks in advance.

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If all the documents stack up and both parties have signed, it's their mistake and a legally binding contract. If you tr to hold them to it expect a section 21 at the first possible opportunity for them I. E. Break clauses etc. If you're prepared to move out, why not.

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Tell the agent to make up the shortfall with the landlord. After all its their mistake, i dont expect the landlord expected a rent cut lol. If its a new 6month contract you have 6 months for cheap. If the agent sends a S21, get in contact with the landlord and tell him you are a good tenant and dont wish to lose you home etc, and tell him to blame the agent.

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Lucky You!

As above if contract is a fully signed up AST and good they should have limited options. Could be worth a visit to citizens advice or shelter. I'd expect them to try and recover some of the costs from you when you next renew.

Let us know how you get on!

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I would say to the agent that you understood in the current market good tenants were getting rent reductions. You would not have signed at the old rate without looking around at options.

Their problem, their cost.

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If it's a 2 year AST then they can't put you on periodic for 2 years.

As another poster suggests, check for break clauses.

It's a fairly minor mistake as to the amount that should be paid made by a "professional" letting agent who should know better. It doesn't seem to me like the sort of mistake that could render a contract void, but it's a long time since I looked at contract law.

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Where would you like to stand?

Do you want a 2 year contract and if so, a break clause for you at some point? I am guessing that you want to stay because of the carpets and redecorating.

The LA will argue that the contract is void as the LL or the LL's agent didn't sign their part of it. You can however, argue that they draw up the contract and knew the contents.

It comes down to a battle of wills which may end in a Section 21 and a trip to court to fight eviction.

At the very least I would let your LL know that the agent has made this mistake and has acted badly (i.e. harassing telephone calls, threats etc)

Edited by Flopsy

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From the above, if you have the countersigned contract in your possession then there is not much they can do. If not, possibly try and improve the terms of the contract before signing.

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I will start by pointing out that I am not a lawyer before I give you two opposing points of view:

The first is that if they can show that you knew the rent figure in the contract was incorrect (this could be by an email, recorded phone call, previous agreement and so on) then I don't think that the contract is binding if you signed it in bad faith. That is to say that you knew is was wrong but signed it anyway thinking you would pull a fast one.

The second point of view is that (assuming there was no bad faith), making threats such as eviction if you don't sign a back dated contract, I believe, would be classified as extracting money by use of menaces. More commonly known as extortion, this is a criminal offence and you could make a report to the police.

I am not a lawyer - do your own research!

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Sorry, I meant to put this in last night as well: whatever you agree with the lettings agent, do bear in mind that moment you sign a back-dated agreement with a higher rent you will be in arrears. I would ensure that you are protected against this at the very least.

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Thanks for all the replies. For the last 6 years, we have had to sign a an 11 page AST every 6 or 12 months. I assumed that because the new agreement was for 2 years instead of the usual 6 months & the fact that we had spent quite a bit on new carpets & decorating since the last agreement was signed that the new lower price was a reflection of the longer term & our improvements.

This new agreement is a "Supplemental Agreement" to the last AST we signed and that "The terms and conditions of the the extended period shall be the same as in the principal Agreement except as amended by this agreement." The amendments are: a 2 year period & the new lower price (with the new dates) which is why I believed the lower price was for the extended period & offsetting the money we had spent. If the monies were the same why did list it as a change. Knowing this I signed it in good faith & changed the direct debit accordingly.

Once they had noticed that the payments had changed (Now assuming we are paying them short & now in rent arrears) they have been on to us none stop texting, calling & sending out letters insisting we sign the new contract with what they now deem is the correct amount & that the old amount was a mistake.

I have written back to them to tell them that we are now seeking legal advice & not to register us as being in rental arrears as we have done everything that has been asked of us & to what we have signed for.

The top & bottom is, they have realised their mistake & want a second chance to correct it. If the solicitor advises us to re sign the new contract & back pay the money owed then I will. If he doesn't then I wont.

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Out of interest, why did you do all the improvements without agreeing to the better trms first? Not saying you were wrong to do this, I've done the same in the past. There just seems to be a missing piece of the jigsaw.

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Two questions need asking:

1. Was the new agreement concluded?

We know the OP sent back a signed agreement. What often happens is that agents never get round to sending the tenant a copy signed by or on behalf of the landlord. That leaves the position in doubt since writing is not necessary. Without a copy signed by the landlord the circumstances need to be considered. It comes down to who said what in what order and also the actions of the parties after the signed contract was sent to the agent.

2. If the new agreement was concluded, what is the rent?

The position is not necessarily quite as straightforward as represented above. If a contract does not record what the parties thought they had agreed that does not make it void, but a mistake can be rectified. If the new terms were agreed on the basis that the rent would be the same as before, then that is what the rent has to be. Even if rent was not mentioned, I think it has to be implicit that the rent would not go down.

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