Here is a blog clinic question from Peter, who is a tenant
Please help. We are tenants with 3 year lease with a two year break clause and we have to leave due to an employment situation. We have 15 months left on the lease.
The Landlord has agreed to release us from the lease, and we have agreed to pay rent until new tenants are found.
However, the letting/managing agent wants to charge us £4,000 for commission. This is the commission cost for the remaining 15 months which has already been paid by the landlord, which presumably, goes back to the landlord.
When new tenants arrive the landlord is expected to pay the new commission costs for the full term of the new lease to the letting agent. However, the letting agent has told us no commission costs will be refunded back to us despite the landlord paying new commission costs at the beginning of a new leasehold tenancy with the new tenants.
The agency have also said that unless we pay this commission cost of £4k they are not willing to advertise the property to get new tenants. Where do we stand in this situation as landlord and ourselves are keen to to have new tenants rent the property? Also the non-refund of costs means the agent will be making almost double the commission costs(depending on gap between our termination of lease and new tenants lease). Is this legal?
This sounds very wrong to me. The commission is a matter between the landlord and the agent, and should not be charged to the tenant.
If the agent is a member of any regulatory body such as ARLA or RICS you could consider lodging a complaint, or if not, maybe with the local Trading Standards Office.
You may also get some help via the Office of Fair Trading. In their guidance on unfair terms, they said that any clause seeking to prevent a tenant from assigning his tenancy would be void unless the tenant could break the tenancy early.
So it may be that if you can find a replacement tenant yourself you could tell the landlord that you are going to assign it unless he agrees to release you and sign up the new tenants on a new agreement.
The agents couldn’t complain as they would get their commission.
It would be interesting to know what other agents think of this. Presumably it is not common practice.
If YOU have a problem, why not put it to the blog clinic? However there are a lot of questions submitted, so if you need an answer quickly remember that members of my Landlord Law service can ask me questions in the members forum area, and will normally get an answer with 24 hours.