Here is a question to the blog clinic from Beth who is a landlord
I rent my house through a letting agent. Two months ago I agreed to use their contractor to carry out some minor refurbishment including a new bathroom suite.
As per my contract, I transferred funds to them before the works started and they used this to pay the contractor. They also charged an additional 10% on top for the privilege.
I did not get a chance to see the finished work because new tenants moved in just a week later. They immediately reported that the new shower had no hot water.
I was then surprised to learn that the contractor would not return under guarantee because of unpaid fees relating to a different landlord who is another of the agent’s clients.
After this incident, several other episodes of poor workmanship came to light (eg the plumber blocked the stop tap with tiles and installed a towel rail too close the door so it did not open properly). I have paid another contractor to put it right – at considerable cost.
I have tried to seek reimbursement from the agent but they say I need to pursue the contractor directly.
If the work was done by the agent’s contractor and there is a dispute between them, doesn’t liability lie with the agent rather than the contractor?
I have also disputed the 10% charge
First of all, you need to read your agency agreement and see exactly what is said about this arrangement.
However, whatever the contractual provisions are, you have been left out of pocket and your tenants have been upset by this workman’s poor service. This looks like a breach of contract on the part of the agents.
Why are you paying a fee of 10% to the agent if this is not on the basis that the agents will employ someone suitably qualified for the work and will supervise the work (or at the very least inspect it after it is completed) to ensure that it has been done properly?
However, not only has the work not been done properly, the contractor has refused to honour his guarantee because of the agent’s failure to pay him on other jobs!
Under contract law, where there is a breach of contract, the injured party is entitled to compensation to put him in the position he would have been in, had the contract been performed properly, as intended.
You employed your agents to deal with the repair work and trusted them to use someone appropriate who would do a good job. If you have had to get another contractor to re-do the work then I think you are entitled to seek compensation from the agents of the extra costs you have incurred.
I also think that if you want to part company with these agents, this incident would justify you ending their agreement early on the basis of breach of contract.