Even if you use a Letting Agent to manage your properties, you can still be liable for breaking the law!!

Did you know that you are liable for things that your Agent does on your behalf?

Where an Agent is used, actions carried out by the Agent on the Landlord’s behalf are generally treated in law as if they had been done by the Landlord.  Landlords are bound by any Agreement or Contract made by their Agent on their behalf with a third party (i.e. a Tenant) providing the Agent is acting within the Authority they have been given.

If the Agent agrees to something which the Landlord has not authorised, the Agent will be liable to the Landlord and Tenant for any losses.  In this case the Landlord may not be bound by the Agent’s action, and the Tenant might therefore seek compensation from the Agent.

If the Agent is acting as Managing Agent for the property and fails to carry out a Statutory Duty, i.e. ensuring an annual gas safety inspection is carried out, the Landlord may be held liable for the failure as well.  A Landlord will also be ultimately liable to the Tenant for the return of the deposit, whether it is a deposit taken before 6th April 2007 or where the deposit is protected using a deposit protection scheme (such as DPS).

In view of this, Landlords should be very careful when choosing an Agent, making sure they choose one who will carry out their responsibilities properly.  The Landlord should also be very clear when giving Agents any special instructions (e.g. no pets, no smokers) to ensure that these are put in writing.

If the Agent has acted properly and in accordance with the Agreement with the Landlord, an Agent will not be liable for a Contract entered into on behalf of his Landlord.  If the Agent has acted contrary to instructions (for example allowing pets where the landlord specifically said ‘no pets’) it is likely that the Agent will be liable to the Landlord and/or the Tenant for any losses which may flow from this.  Liability may depend, amongst other things, on the precise instructions from the Landlord and subsequent correspondence or conversations – but remember the Agent is presumed to be authorised to do things that Agents ordinarily do – unless the Landlord instructs otherwise.

Before choosing an Agent, speak to more than one – it is worth trying to get a personal recommendation – most Agents will have testimonials and/or be willing to put you in contact with an existing customer.  Check how long the Agent has been in business, how many premises they manage, what training/qualifications their staff have received, and whether they are a member of a professional or trade organisation such as the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

Fees and costs for letting and property management services will vary and the cheapest is not always best if the Agent is not an expert in good management practice and housing law.  If the agent does not do the job well, this will reflect on the Landlord, and it can have potentially serious implications.  It is also important to choose an Agent who is familiar with the type of property (and that section of the market) that is being let or managed, so take a look at the other properties the Agent has on their books.

Of course we always advise that Landlords instruct an Independent Specialist Letting Agent such as The Letting Company as we believe a specialist Agent has the correct knowledge and expertise to advise and protect Landlords against legal issues.  Whilst the larger/national Agents who are attached to Estate Agents can sometimes offer lower fees or wider marketing campaigns, they do not necessarily have the specialist knowledge to support Landlords with effective property management.

At The Letting Company we have both ARLA qualifications and Legal Expertise as well as over twenty years experience in residential lettings.  We take care of all the legal aspects so you don’t need to worry about Landlord liability when instructing us.  Contact us today for advice on letting and managing your property/s.

Thelettingcompany.co is a website owned and managed by Richard Gibbs trading as The Letting Company and our VAT number is 876269571.
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