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Tenant wishes to contract with landlord not the agent

Agents boardsHere is a blog clinic question from Elliott (not his real name) who is a tenant

I have a contract with my agent (Foxtons) that will expire in 2 months time, however I’m willing to end my contract with them but remain in the house and create a new legal contract directly with the landlord himself.

I have spoken with the landlord and he has agreed to this condition, in fact he favours this proposal. Would this be possible?

The trouble is, Foxtons are not YOUR agents.  They are the landlord’s agents.  In reality you always HAVE been been contracting directly with the landlord, the agent is simply an intermediary who facilitated that.  For example if you wanted to bring a claim about the condition of the property this would be brought against the landlord not the agents.

There will be an agency agreement between Foxtons and the landlord and the landlord will undoubtedly be paying Foxtons an agency fee (probably a hefty agency fee) for finding you to be his tenant and then managing the property.

Foxton’s contract will almost certainly include a provision that the landlord continues to pay a commission for every year you remain in the property, probably up to a limit of two years (click here to see why).

So I am pretty sure your landlord woud be delighted to ditch Foxtons and deal with you direct – it will be a lot cheaper for him.  However Foxtons may have other ideas.

For example they may say that the landlord is in breach of contract and claim their fee from him anyway.  They are a robust firm, and don’t give up easily.  The OFT v. Foxtons litigation bears that out.

Mind you if the reason you want Foxtons out of the picture is because they have provided an appalling service then, if what they did (or didn’t do) was in breach of their agency agreement, it would give the landlord a reason to end his contract with them early.  But that is really a matter between the landlord and Foxtons.

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7 Responses to Tenant wishes to contract with landlord not the agent

  1. This is poorly outdated advice.

    If the contract is expiring naturally and you and your Landlord are happy to liaise then you can renew directly and tell the Agent that they are no longer needed. This will also mean no extra charges for you or your Landord.

    I hope the author brushes up on their working knowledge.

    David

  2. Hi David. Thanks for posting but not sure why you think the advice outdated. So far as I am aware the law of agency has not changed.

    The third party (tenant) does not, so far as I am aware, have any legal right to change the terms of the contract made between the landlord and the agent. However much they may want to do this.

  3. Thanks for the info. I am glad to learn the tenant has nothing to worry about in this kind of situation. However aside from the agent not providing the agreed quality of service, I think the tenant and the landlord can finally exclude the agent if the contract has already expired.

  4. The agent can be excluded, but under the contract he has already signed, the landlord may still be legally obligated to pay commission to the agent. If he fails to pay this he will be in breach of contract and the agent can sue him for it.

    The tenant has nothing to do with this as he is not a party to the agency agreement which is made between the landlord and agent before the property is offered for rent.

  5. In reality the contract IS with the landlord and not with the agent. Unless I suppose the property were sublet to the agent first.

    In most normal agency situations the agent is just that – an agent. He is not a contracting party, he just facilitates it.




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About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law. She runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 12th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google



The Landlord Law Blog from Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.


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