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Is the letting agent liable to the landlord for damage done by tenants?

flatsHere is a question to the blog clinic from Sarah who is a landlord

I have a property that is fully let managed by a letting agent. They have not done the correct background checks on the Tenant. She moved in last May, it turned out that she and her boyfriend who lives there but is not on the tenancy agreement are convicted criminals.

My letting agent will not accept responsibility for this are simply saying that it’s all down to bad luck.

The tenants have been evicted now and the house has been robbed and ransacked. They have taken all white goods, oven & hob, shower along with door handles and a door. They maliciously damaged the staircase and stopped paying rent in October. The damage to the staircase was repaired by the letting agents contractor and I was charged £1000.

There was no credit check or employment check done. no payslips supplied and the Letting Agent want me to get the property back to a lettable state.

In this case Sarah, they may well be.  For an agent to be liable to you for damage done by a tenant you need essentially to show

  • that they are in breach of their agency agreement with you and
  • that the damage / loss to you occurred as a result of that breach

So first you need to look at the agency agreement and see what they agreed to do.

However I would have thought that in ANY agency agreement , where the agent sources a tenant for the landlord it must be implied in that agreement that the agent will do SOME checking.  Otherwise why is the agent being used?


  • the problem with the tenant must have been something which a proper check would have revealed

So if the normal reference checks which a proper agent would have done, would have shown that these tenants are likely to cause you damage, then you should have a case.

What you CAN”T do however is just say “these tenants are terrible and have caused me financial loss – my agent must be liable for this”

It is not the fact that the tenants are terrible that will make the agents liable – it is the fact that the  damage was caused to you because they did not do their job properly.

Note that if you are thinking of getting rid of your agent, you may find the online guide on my Landlord Law site >> here useful.

(See also the comments area below and >> click here to read our terms of use and comments policy)

Important note. If you are reading an old post, remember that the law may have changed since it was written.

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About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th 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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