Question: I have been renting out a property via a letting agency for about five years. I don't find the service they offer necessary, and when I received a deduction for "contract renewal fee" I decided to terminate. I have requested a copy of their agreement with the tenant but haven't got it; I have enquired about the deposit but have had no reply — and now I need to view the property. Can I ask the tenant for a copy of his agreement? What's my best course of action?
© Merrily Harpur
Answer: When the tenancy was first created, a tenancy agreement between the landlord and the tenant would have been drawn up and the landlord and the tenant should each have signed a copy of that agreement. The landlord should have a copy signed by the tenant and the tenant should have a copy signed by the landlord.
The letting agency should certainly have copies of the tenancy agreement signed by both parties. The tenancy agreement will explain the situation regarding the deposit and your rights of access to inspect the property, and you do need to see it. If the tenancy commenced on or after April 6, 2007, the deposit should be protected under the tenancy deposit scheme.
Request a copy of the agreement or contract between you and the letting agency regarding the management of the tenancy, to see if they are actually entitled to charge you a tenancy renewal fee. Ask the tenant to see a copy of his tenancy agreement. Tell the letting agents you are terminating your contract. If they argue that you cannot do so, then they are likely to provide a copy of the agreement they have with you which they claim spells that out.
In the event that no one can produce any documents, the situation is complex and you will need to seek proper legal advice.
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Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP (www.thrings.com).
These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.