Here is a question to the blog clinic from Julia who is a tenant:
I signed a contract with agency a short hold tenancy agreement. Unfortunately after I did all the works in the house spending roughly £2000, the agency got into a dispute with the landlord and the agency emailed me saying that everything must now be between me and the landlord.
Unfortunately they have broken the contract but in the contract it says that it cant be broken for at least 1 year and the agency have given the landlord my deposit to which I believe he hasn’t put into a deposit scheme. What are my rights and where do I stand? What should I do?
Julia, so far as I can see you should have nothing to worry about so far as the tenancy agreement is concerned.
If the agents were acting for a landlord all along, then your contract was always with the landlord anyway. Letting agents are just facilitators who arrange contracts for landlords. They are not themselves actually a party to the contract. So they were never your landlord.
The only thing that has changed is that they are no longer managing the tenancy, so you will need to deal direct with the landlord rather than through the agency.
Sometimes letting agents put their own name and address in a tenancy agreement as the landlord. This is not good practice as it can make them personally liable under the agreement. However (if this is the case with your agreement), even then, the fact that they have now ‘come out’ as an agent will not end your tenancy. They have not asked you to move out have they?
I am a bit worried to hear that you have spent £2,000 on the property It is not usually a good idea to spend your own money on works on someone else’s property. But as I don’t know the circumstances I won’t say any more here.
So far as the deposit issue is concerned, if you paid the money to the agency, then they are responsible jointly with the landlord for seeing that it is properly protected, so (whatever they say) you should be able to claim against them if you have a problem recovering your deposit when the time comes for you to vacate.
I have a separate website which explains how you can find out whether your deposit is protected or not, which you can find >> here.
If the deposit has been protected in the past but is not protected now, you will be able to bring a claim for the penalty, and your landlord will not be able to serve a valid section 21 notice on you while the deposit remains unprotected.