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What does taking a rented property ‘as seen’ mean?

Let as seen?Here is a question to the blog clinic from Frances (not her real name) who works for a letting agency

As a follower of your excellent blog, I have a question about taking a property ‘as seen’.

I work for a high street letting agent, recently a young lady came to us needing a property in a hurry but the only place we had in her budget needed redecorating and new carpets.

The tenant said she would move in anyway as long as the work was done later, which to my knowledge was agreed but only in a conversation in the branch and never in writing.

The tenant has moved in and the work has yet to be done, but the landlord has decided not to proceed and the lettings manger has told her that because she took the property ‘as seen’ then she will have to do the work herself.

This has happened a couple of times before, it seems that the ‘taken as seen’ argument in an unfair and dishonest way of securing tenants.

Does the landlord have to do this work and is there anything that the tenant can do?

I agree that it does seem dishonest and unfair, certainly from the tenants point of view.

I can understand it also from the landlords point of view though – for example its always more difficult getting work done when there is a tenant in occupation. There is also no real incentive – as it is not as if they are trying to find a new tenant – they already have one.

Letting as seen

Taking a property as seen, means that you accept it as it is, with any problems that there might be which you may not have noticed.

So far as rented properties are concerned however, this cannot get the landlord out of  doing repairs which fall under his statutory repairing duties.  For example repairs to the roof, plumbing problems, and any repair work required for gas appliances.

So any contract clause which provides for a property to be taken ‘as seen’ will probably be void under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations.

However here the items at issues are redecoration and carpets which do not really fall within that category.

In any event, I don’t think this property was let ‘as seen’.  The agent said that re-decoration works were going to be done and new carpets laid.  The tenant signed the tenancy on that basis.

Problems in practice

However, although the landlord will be bound by the agents agreement with the tenant, it may be difficult realistically, for her to do much about it.

For example if it was never put in writing, there is the question of proving that the conversation ever took place.

If she were to make a claim for compensation, even if her claim were successful, I also don’t think any compensation awarded would be very much – so it would not really be worth the bother.

Reputational damage

However long term, I do not think doing this sort of thing on a regular basis is a good idea. It could get the agency a bad name.

After all we have the internet and social media now.  There are plenty of ways a tenant can make public her dissatisfaction with her experience.

Alternative solutions

The obvious solution is to offer the property to the tenant at a slightly lower rent, but I suspect the agent would get into trouble with the landlord if he did that.

Probably the best and most honest way to deal with it, would be to make it clear from the outset that the tenant would have to pay for any redecorating work herself.  It would make the property less attractive – but if there is a lack of suitable properties around she would probably have taken it anyway.

And you would then be spared the problem of dealing with a justly aggrieved tenant.

If you are a tenant reading this – always make sure agreements like this are put in writing.

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3 Responses to What does taking a rented property ‘as seen’ mean?

  1. If the agent is a member of an ombudsman system then that may be an option. The agent has not acted well in this case as the tenant was allowed to believe it would be decorated whatever may have been in the formal agreement.

    I expect any action against the landlord will just lead to a S21 whatever the outcome is.

  2. If that was one of our landlords I’d simply disinstruct them immediately. Our reputation is too important.

    By refusing to do the works they have broken a contract and made it impossible for you to act on their behalf without lying, so you would be entitled to end your agreement.

    I very concerned that you’re still agreeing this sort of thing verbally, especially as you said it has happend a few times now!



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

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

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