My story is a bit long but please bear with me as the context is required. We recently looked up a property in rightmove listed for about 1275£ stating that a full redecoration will be done before move-in. We put an offer of 1200£ and also requested for full redecoration as advertised. The offer was accepted, we also paid a Fee of Intent of 500£ and an additional fee of about 17£ each for me and my wife for “Right to Rent” through a company called UKTenantData as per the letting agent’s instructions. The 500£ had some referncing costs as well as check in and rest would go towards deposit. We also made the mistake of signing an agreement which stated the below in the paragraphs:
Each applicant is required to fully complete a tenancy application form from which all referees will be contacted. There will be a referencing charge of £25.00 + VAT (£30.00) per application, £50.00 + VAT (£60.00) per company application and £25.00 + VAT (£30.00) per guarantor application, the cost of which will be deducted from the fee of intent. There will also be a charge of £16.00 + VAT (£19.20) per application, Immigration Act 2014 ‘Right to Rent’ check to conduct your residency validation (payable directly to the referencing company UK Tenant Data). The charges incurred for referencing & Immigration Act 2014 ‘Right to Rent’ check are non-refundable under any circumstances. If completed reference reports are not received within 7 days of submission the property will be made available to the open market.
I/we have paid a “Fee of Intent” in the sum of £500.00 and hereby agree to the above conditions and the non refundable referencing & Immigration Act 2014 ‘Right to Rent’ check charges outlined within. If I/we decide not to proceed with the tenancy, fail to declare relevant information or information significantly differs from that provided by me (on page 3 of this document), which results in my/our application being declined by the landlord, it is understood that the balance of the £500.00 “Fee of Intent” will not be refunded.
All our reference checks, “right to rent” checks went through fine and it was agreed that we move in end of Feb 2017. They said we could walk in with our passports anytime and get a tenancy agreement done before moving in date. We did not hurry with the tenancy agreement because we were waiting for my wife’s visa to be renewed (so the passport was stuck with home office). Suddenly, after a couple of weeks, the letting agent calls me and tells me that the Landlord cannot do a full redecoration and that a full decoration would mean a higher rent. I said, that is unacceptable and that was not our offer. He got back to me the next day and said the landlord is walking out and refunding the 500£ fee of intent. I indicated to him that along with that the 34£ should also be refunded as we had stuck to our side of the agreement and passed all reference checks. The agents went ahead and put the property on the market again before refunding me. I call them up and ask them about the timeline of my refund and get vague answers like “We can’t give you an exact timeline”. I stood ground and said that is unacceptable (This was today). Later, they send me a patronising email saying the Landlord was considerate to refund the entire 500£, and that the landlord could have held back referencing check fee as well. They claim to have refunded 500 to the card. And they are also saying the “Right to rent” fee will not be refunded. It seems grossly unfair that a greedy landlord can get away so easily and we ended up paying a fee for no reason(I know we were stupid enough to sign an agreement to screw us over :(). But is there a legal angle I can pursue where such one sided agreements are illegal? The money is not at all a concern for me, but it is a question of principle. I am just pissed that they can treat us this bad and then act as if they are doing me a favour. I really want to see the sorry face of the agent even if it means I spend a few days in court proceedings.