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HaX

Letting Agent Attempting to force rent increase and contract renewal

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Hello,

I've been renting a flat in Reading with my girlfriend. It's relatively low-end as I've been saving for a house deposit (£60K saved to date). Not keen on buying in Reading, though both of us enjoy our jobs so I think we'll be staying around for a while.

Each year our letting agent has attempted to increase our rent by £50 per month (5%) and get us to sign a new tenancy agreement. To date, I've always refused the rent increase, though signed a new TA (and paid the £250 fee) as a gesture of goodwill. The service we've received from both our LA and LL have been excellent, and repairs/maintenance, though the quarterly inspections we've had to endure have been a little intrusive.

This year they're trying again -  over two months ahead of my renewal date. I will be refusing again, and also insisting that my existing AST transition to statutory periodic. Last time I requested this they claimed that SPTs didn't even exist.

I'm keen to avoid being fleeced again, but am keen to avoid getting the dreaded S21. 

We have always been excellent tenants, scoring 5/5 each time our flat was inspected. Should I stand my ground, or am I playing with fire?

 

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15 hours ago, HaX said:

insisting that my existing AST transition to statutory periodic

I tried that and was Section 21'd. LAs don't want to acknowledge the existence of periodic tenancies as they are an annual payment from both tenant and landlord. They can easily fear-talk landlords into this way of thinking too. 

Be aware that the tenant fee ban doesn't apply to existing tenancies until next year, so you're likely to be stung with another, quite likely cost hiked, fee for their efforts. This is likely the motivation behind the early nagging. Interestingly they won't be able to fleece the next tenant if they did S21'd you so it might an empty threat - but you'll have to weigh up the potential impact on your life. S21 can be stopped - this is a standard threat mechanism the LA does: issue S21 then negotiate cancelation. Nasty thing to do and I told my LA to stick it when they offered, but I was ready to move out anyways. 

Oh, and quarterly inspections are beyond a joke. Hated annual inspections and when a new rental did 6-monthly i thought this was taking liberties. Four a year is worse than student halls of residence.    

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The best way to deal with this is to completely ignore them, don't write, don't phone just wait them out.

When theres only 2-3 weeks to go they will probably phone you in a panic to get the renewal - tell them "yeah thats fine I'll drop into the office to sign the paperwork", make an appointment thats only a few days before the contract end.

Dont turn up for the appointment, again wait for them to contact you - if they manage to phone you again before the contract actually expires sound apologetic say you were ill and offer to come in again on the last day of the contract - rinse repeat, don't turn up.

Once the contract has expired, it doesnt matter what they say: you are on a rolling contract and no more stupid fees to pay, they might serve a revenge eviction and give you 2 months to quit but they almost certaintly won't if you have been good tenants. It is the landord who would make that decision not the agents and the landlord couldn't care less if the agents don't get some small fee which has already been abolished for all new tenants anyway.

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The last advice is good, however, write to the landlord privately explaining that you would like to stay on and fully intend to continue being a good tenant. That way the LA can't invent some fake reason to tell the landlord.

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Last time this happened I responded to their Email stating that I wished to stay but would not be accepting a rent increase or signing a new TA. 

About two weeks before my contract was due to expire I received an Email saying that they had arranged for someone to go through the checkout process and collect the keys on the date my contract expired.

I contacted them and told the to cancel whatever process they had invoked and ended up signing a new TA. I queried the cost (£250), asking for a bill of materials. Predictably they fobbed me off, even saying that I was getting a good deal as the landlord also has to pay £250.

I suspect that I'm in a weak position. The property is fully managed by the LA. I've not had any communication with the landlord before (though do have their Email address).

I wonder if there is anyone I can report the LA to if they do screw me over. I think that some of their previous actions constitute harassment. 

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3 hours ago, HaX said:

I contacted them and told the to cancel whatever process they had invoked and ended up signing a new TA.

So if that happens again, you just promise them "yes of course I'll sign a new agreement, I'll be over next week", then you forget to go, book another appointment, don't turn up for it - before you know it the 2 weeks are up and "Oh dear I guess Im on a rolling contract now, oh well no need to that new fixed term contract after all"

They will hate you for it, but it's almost impossible for them to stop you - all the stuff about evicting you on the very last day is bluff.

When I did this they got in a huff and said they would no longer manage the property and I'd have to deal with the landlord direct going forward, like that was some kind of punishment - but it's been great - the landlord has been so much easier to deal with than the Agency Spivs.

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43 minutes ago, Habeas Domus said:

They will hate you for it, but it's almost impossible for them to stop you

They may not be able to do anything about it but they can (and do) retaliate with a S21. Landlords, especially absent landlords, value the relationship they have with their LA and they will usually go along with whatever action they suggest, and rarely see the vested interest the LA has. 

In the past I've taken on board all the good advice about writing to a landlord directly and ignoring the LA until it rolls over to a periodic. In my experience these tactics don't work in high tenant demand areas like London and, probably, Reading. In contrast, I moved up to Manchester a few years ago and found the tenant / agent power relationship completely reversed. Agents up here generally leave you alone and are just thankful to get the rent and not have the place stripped of pipework or turned into a grow house. 

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What have you got to lose really? Moving is a hassle, but do you want these subhumans to be in control of your life?

1. Email the landlord. "Hello, just to let you know, I am very happy with the flat and would like to stay in it."

2. Do the ignoring thing as above

3. Look at other properties you would be happy with. You will have a minimum of two months to get into something nice and the more positive you feel about the option of walking away, the more likely you are to stand your ground and come out on top.

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On 28/07/2019 at 18:30, Habeas Domus said:

The best way to deal with this is to completely ignore them, don't write, don't phone just wait them out.

When theres only 2-3 weeks to go they will probably phone you in a panic to get the renewal - tell them "yeah thats fine I'll drop into the office to sign the paperwork", make an appointment thats only a few days before the contract end.

Dont turn up for the appointment, again wait for them to contact you - if they manage to phone you again before the contract actually expires sound apologetic say you were ill and offer to come in again on the last day of the contract - rinse repeat, don't turn up.

Once the contract has expired, it doesnt matter what they say: you are on a rolling contract and no more stupid fees to pay, they might serve a revenge eviction and give you 2 months to quit but they almost certaintly won't if you have been good tenants. It is the landord who would make that decision not the agents and the landlord couldn't care less if the agents don't get some small fee which has already been abolished for all new tenants anyway.

Thats gold dust that advice. Cheers I'll remember that for the future.

Also if you know a LA are a joke, how can you usually find the landlord's details direct. The last place I had, I'm pretty sure the landord's details were c/o the LA.  Same for the current one

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1 hour ago, frye said:

Thats gold dust that advice. Cheers I'll remember that for the future.

Also if you know a LA are a joke, how can you usually find the landlord's details direct. The last place I had, I'm pretty sure the landord's details were c/o the LA.  Same for the current one

I think that legally the landlords full details have to be on the letting agreement - typically buried in 10 pages of small print, if not the agents have to supply a current address when requested in writing. criminal offence/£2,500 fine if they fail.

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They can provide another address (typically the letting agents) but you can then use that address to serve legal notices (e.g. when bring legal action against them)

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Just had the same treatment from the LA. Contacted the landlord and asked if he had asked them to start the process and he said no. Then asked if he was ok with moving to a rolling tenancy and he was happy to do so. He pointed out that its now probably illegal to charge the renewal fee if we wanted a 6 or 12 month fixed.

When I responded that they were able to charge he just said ****** em, I am happy to let it run.

I did enjoy writing the reply to the parasites :)

In short, get a good relationship with your LL and they are usually more than happy to let the status quo be. Why wouldn't they want a model tenant over a total unknown?

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Same thing happened to me. 3 months out, started being bombarded with calls and emails. Eventually just replied and said no thanks, happy to continue on periodic.

Agency came back with some stuff like 'your landlord is not prepared to agree to a periodic'.

Forwarded the landlord the email along with a link to their fees page (fees are less for a periodic than a contract).

He said he had no contact at all with agency and was happy to go periodic.

No further contact from the agency, there should be some rule against them telling lies.

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On 28/07/2019 at 19:25, HaX said:

About two weeks before my contract was due to expire I received an Email saying that they had arranged for someone to go through the checkout process and collect the keys on the date my contract expired.

Surely they should be giving you 2 months notice? You could challenge that eviction in court.

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On 28/07/2019 at 19:25, HaX said:

I contacted them and told the to cancel whatever process they had invoked and ended up signing a new TA. I queried the cost (£250), asking for a bill of materials. Predictably they fobbed me off, even saying that I was getting a good deal as the landlord also has to pay £250.

Another reason to contact the landlord, he might be glad of being shot of paying £250, after all what's the letting agency doing on his behalf for that money? Last place I rented the landlord gave up using an agency to get someone in and just knocked off the rent what he'd been paying them, he didn't lose anything and I gained.

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On 28/07/2019 at 19:25, HaX said:

I contacted them and told the to cancel whatever process they had invoked and ended up signing a new TA. I queried the cost (£250), asking for a bill of materials. Predictably they fobbed me off, even saying that I was getting a good deal as the landlord also has to pay £250.

I can't understand how we've just introduced legislation to ban this ripping off of tenants but letting agents have somehow found a way to continue doing it.

Why are you required to pay some third party a fee for the privilege of continuing to pay rent to another person. It's bonkers and I hope this is illegal now and will soon stop.

Edited by dugsbody

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1 hour ago, dugsbody said:

I can't understand how we've just introduced legislation to ban this ripping off of tenants but landlords have somehow found a way to continue doing it.

Why are you required to pay some third party a fee for the privilege of continuing to pay rent to another person. It's bonkers and I hope this is illegal now and will soon stop.

Bloody hell, we agree about something.

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